After years of going off social media because my Facebook feed became a banal, non-chronological place that made me feel lonely, I found Instagram and now my life can be seen as little bite sized chunks of square, contrasty goodness. I know life’s not really like that (though I seem to come across countless ‘8 Reasons Why’ type articles that tell their horrified readers that Instagram is not people’s real life – well, der). So when I see an awesome Instagram feed and then decide to fly across the country and meet the square maker, I’m under no illusions that we all experience life’s less neatly packaged parts, which nobody posts. In Magali Gentric’s case, on the day I drove to Kyneton, she was mourning the sudden death of a family pet from the night before. But because of my crazy schedule and the quirks of running your own business, the shoot went on and Stockroom Kyneton opened it’s doors with a radiant and welcoming smile. Magali is a mum, like me, so she knows how to put on a brave face, albeit with the grace that only a French woman can carry. I also had the added bonus of meeting her partner, artist Jason Waterhouse and getting a tour of his studio out the back of his store next door (how cute is that!). It’s a pretty sweet family business on the coolest street in Kyneton, a beautiful town in the Central Highlands of Victoria, dubbed ‘North Northcote’ for it’s burgeoning population of ex-Melbournites. (I hereby declare my Denmark as ‘South South Freo’ – you heard it here first!).
Stockroom is in a beautiful old butter factory (not the only one in this hood if you’re a regular reader!) – and is filled with Magali’s collection of vintage objects, home wares, clothing and accessories – with an art gallery that weaves in and out of the store. I think it’s hard to pull off this kind of combination, but it’s all tied together with Magali’s strong visual aesthetic and warm inclusive style. It’s really a fun place to meander in and I was very happy to whip out my credit card and forget my excess luggage woes, by buying things made of concrete and some really heavy antique gold crucibles (photo below). I managed to get all of my family presents there, kids, bloke – the lot! Also, I tend to give myself a little something, as a pat on the back for thinking of others whilst shopping, because it’s really very nice of me.
If the tyranny of distance finds you a long way east, west, south or really north of North Northcote, you can always shop online at Stockroom!
The building you’re in is amazing, how did you come to be in there?
We had a little art and design shop in Hepburn Springs called Wolf at the Door, and my partner (Jason) and I were both teachers in Art and Design at Swinburne University. Jason stumbled upon the derelict Kyneton Butter Factory, which had just come up for lease and in a moment of insanity we decided to take the project on.
We had no intention to move, or start another business but the opportunity seemed to good to let pass, so without any start up funds we applied for the lease on the building. Over the past 5 years we have, stage by stage, developed the 1000 square metre building into what it is today. We have developed the premises on a tight budget with respect to the buildings history and texture. We reused and recycled wherever possible. Stockroom icons like our wool barrel lights are a prime example. The building came with heaps of old polypropylene wool barrels that we bought from the owner, with no idea what to do with them. After workshopping a heap of ideas we came up with the concept of inverting them and using them as shades as a main feature of the store. They are one of the loved and much talked about parts of Stockroom, and can be also found in places like Chin Chin.
What are the opportunities and challenges of having a retail and arts space in a regional area?
We have to be innovative, remained engaging and ahead of the game to keep people making the drive up. We are also privileged to be part of the greater Piper St community in Kyneton, which is a renowned food and retail strip. Marketing is also high on our agenda and we remain active on social media platforms. We also have an online shop and website. It’s a whole heap of work.
What’s the creative scene like in Kyneton?
Kyneton has a great community of creatives and is well known for it. So many people from inner city Melbourne have made the change to Kyneton and surrounds because its commutable, cheap, community based and has great shops and cafes. When people come up for a visit they are always blown away by the creative vibe in the district. We could not do what we do in Melbourne. Imagine what a 1000 square metre 140 year old building would set you back in town!