To wear, to give, to keep: Brown's General Store

Brown's General Store is an ethical shopping gem in the heart of Brisbane. I sat down with owners (and cutest family ever) Cate, Nick and little Eddie.

With a combined background in retail, galleries, curation and IT, Brown's General Store owners Cate and Nick were never going to create a standard bricks and mortar shop.

"Our belief is we want to make our livelihood by supporting other people," Cate says.

"The goal is for us to have a lifestyle that reflects our values, that allows other people to make a living with what they do too."

The moment you walk into this little store on Brisbane's Latrobe Terrace you can see Cate's long-time love for all things handcrafted, local and ethically made.

Cate worked in iconic Brisbane fashion store La La Latrobe for her uni years before landing her first post-grad gig with Craft Queensland - now Artisan. And the hand crafted love affair began.

"I just fell in love with the handmade, locally made storytelling behind everything," Cate says.

"It was around the time Frankie Magazine first started, it wasn't really on the radar of many people and craft was still seen as a bit daggy and fuddy duddy."

She went on to curate her own "Craft Revolution" exhibition at QUT's Art Museum as an intern, looking at the movement away from the traditional view of craft to the concept of 'craft as activism'.

But it wasn't until a working holiday to New York with husband Nick - where their visas prevented them from doing any 'skilled work' - that Cate knew she wanted to open her own store.

"I got a job in a shop - Pink Olive - and that inspired me, I just thought 'this is awesome,'" Cate says.

Nick and Cate did up a business plan - and sat on it.

It was a family trip to Japan most recently that really pushed the pair to take the plunge and open something of their own.

Ethical fashion racks in Brown's General Store - Frank and Dolly's, Bon Label, Flaex Design

"In Japan I fell in love with the culture of enjoying everything and not needing a lot," Cate says.

"I love everything and I love everyone that we represent - it's just lovely being here everyday."

Though the real experience is inside this little bricks and mortar store, Cate and Nick have put equal weight behind the technology side of their business, balancing slow and handmade with convenience.

Nick built the online store into the business from the start and the pair continue to take an innovative approach to their offering.

They've launched a 'speed racer service' so people can pre-order online, pull up out the front and have their purchases ready to go, and they're looking to offer an annual gift scheduling and delivery service.

Co-owner Cate (right) in her newly-opened Brown's General Store

"We're seeing that people want the convenience of shopping online but they want the experience of coming into a store," Nick says.

"I find all this stuff really exciting because it's just a little shop but there are new technologies and new ways of communicating that make it easier."

If you're in Brisbane, keep an eye out for Brown's first in-store exhibition in December - showcasing local, handmade of course!


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