Hello Polly Interview

Hello Polly is the home of unique, beautiful artwork and design from independent artists. ​Calan from PrintTogether took a little time out to catch up for a chat with Sarah Kelk - owner of the inspirational online design store.

Can you tell us a little about how Hello Polly came about?
Behind the scenes of Hello Polly is me, a cup of tea and pot plant loving, mother of two who loves the challenge of juggling a creative business. I grew up in New Zealand and studied both Art History and Design. I worked in various gallery and design spaces in New Zealand, as well as some time spent working as an Interior Designer. In 2002 my husband and I decided to travel the world, and after 2 years, ran out of money in Edinburgh, which is where we were to live for the next 7 years.
     Whilst in Edinburgh, I was fortunate enough to help establish The Red Door Gallery, dealing with talented artists and designers till early 2011. My husband and I had always hoped to end up in Melbourne at some point, to be closer to friends and family. When he was offered a job in Melbourne early 2011, it made our decision to leave Edinburgh that bit easier.
     We had initially started looking for a physical shop space, as we were passionate about continuing a creative business here in Australia, but decided to test the waters by beginning with an online store. Being primarily an online business, we love how we can share our unique product around Australia and the rest of the world. We also love the creative outlook that Melbourne as a city has, and are thrilled to be able to add something to that, in our own way.
How does the Melbourne art scene compare to Edinburgh?
Good question and one which to be honest, I haven’t really reflected on since being here is Melbourne. The emerging art and design scene is so strong in Melbourne (and Australia wide), and a scene that is really flourishing at the moment due to such strong public support. You only have to visit markets such as Finders Keepres, Markit@Fed Square or The Big Design Market to see the wealth of talent on offer, as well as the quality of what is being produced. Its wonderful for artists and designers to have outlets such as this as it carries on feeding into the art scene in Melbourne as a whole.
     The scene in Edinburgh or the United Kingdom seems to feel that bit more traditional in the way it filters down. The main source of emerging artists and designers there comes from the Art Schools and Illustration courses, and there is nowhere near as much support in the community. Markets and creative retail spaces are not as common as here in Melbourne (although Edinburgh is a lot smaller). There’s some strong talent in Edinburgh, it’s just a bit harder to come across.
It’s also a bit of a generalization, but I think the work in Australia is a lot more colourful, although I suspect that it may have something to do with the weather!

One of the things I like most about working at PrintTogether is seeing the vast amount of different designs that come through the door. Is it the same for you at Hello Polly?
We agree completely, it constantly amazes me what some people can produce and we feel really lucky to be able to showcase their work to the public.

Are there advantages / disadvantages to just being online?
We’re really glad we made the decision to start Hello Polly online. I felt that when I first arrived in Melbourne, I needed to figure out the city before jumping in boots and all to a bricks and mortar retail space. Being online also makes things a lot easier with a young family and after 7 years running a physical space in Edinburgh, it was a nice change to be solely online.
     In saying that, I really do miss the face-to-face interaction with customers. It’s something that’s impossible to achieve online and being a people person, I really enjoy chatting to customers about the products, the weather and the usual everyday chitchat. We try to do at least 6 markets or pop-ups a year, which is great for that people fix. We are still on the look out for a bricks and mortar space and if the perfect spot came up, we’d probably jump at it.

Without being completely bias, are there any new artists coming through that you think really stand out?
OOoooh – there’s too many to choose from. We just started stocking some really awesome leather clutches and wallets from Falconwright, a duo based in Toronto, Canada. They make their products with bright colours and bold patterns that we’re totally coveting at the moment.
If there are artists / designers reading this that would like to sell on Hello Polly, how do they go about that?
We love hearing from artists and designers (regardless of whether they are established or emerging) and really appreciate people taking the time to submit work for consideration. If anyone out there has been creating something special they would like to get into a retail space, then send us an email (info@hellopolly.com.au) telling us about yourself and what you do. If we like what you create, and think it fits with the other Hello Polly stock, then we might just give it a go. It’s as simple as that!
If you had some friends coming from overseas just for the weekend, what would your tour of Melbourne consist of?
Oh man, that’s such a tough one - where to start! Although we’re based North side I usually start a tour of Melbourne in the City. Fed Square followed by a wander along the Yarra is a great way to give a visitor an overview of the Melbourne skyline. We love the Botanical Gardens, NGV and Melbourne War Memorial as the views up Swanston Street are stunning and always worth the walk. A meander through the laneways, grabbing food and coffee as we go is also a sure fire way to get anyone hooked on the city of Melbourne.
    There’s also nothing better than an afternoon wandering what we like to call ‘The Fitzroy Circuit’ – Brunswick St, Gertrude Street, Smith Street and back. To us, it encompasses lots of things we love about Melbourne, plus it has lots of great eating and drinking spots along the way.
Sunday would either start with a morning walk or a bike ride on the capital city trail, brunch along the way followed by an afternoon spent on a picnic rug with friends, food and a footy ball in Edinburgh gardens.

Any exiting plans or new products for the future?
We’re planning to launch a small range of Hello Polly products prior to Christmas and then expanding these into 2014. I can’t give away too much yet, but they are set to be stunning. We’ll hopefully be using Print Together to help us achieve some of these products too!

To keep an eye on Hello Polly visit: https://hellopolly.com.au
Print Together - fast printing service in Melbourne and whole Australia
Created: 12/07/2013