Rachel DiMauro and Belinda Miller, co-owners of Far Fetched Designs, met by doing what they do best – making things.
“We both love to sew and make and tap into our creative sides. For many years we had side hustles – Belinda with Mr Moo and me with Orcwood – and we kept having adjoining stalls at different handmade craft markets around Melbourne,” laughs Rachel.
But it didn’t take long for them to grow tired of the market scene. Rachel describes one particularly gruelling market day: “It was winter and dragging stuff in the rain and the wind and setting up was a nightmare.”
That was the moment that the pair developed the idea for Far Fetched Designs.
“We thought maybe we could do a pop up shop, get everybody to work together, pitching in to pay the rent, and then we could sell the products of a whole plethora of makers in one place.”
Before they knew it, their first pop-up was up and running, packed with vendors and makers they knew from their market days. It was so successful that within two years they had successfully hosted four pop-ups in the inner west and Brunswick.
In 2016 they were ready to move into their permanent Seddon store.
Why Seddon? Rachel’s fond memories of their launch party puts it perfectly.
“This was the first time where we felt really embraced by the community. The people who run the businesses in Seddon also tend to be the owners. There were lots of different traders out the front sharing a drink with us, saying hello and welcoming us to the neighbourhood. And that was just a really lovely vibe.”
Their vibrant, colourful Charles Street store now stocks wares from fifty makers, with a vision to include up to seventy makers in the future. Each stockist pays a rental fee and a commission on sales and can choose to feature whatever products they like in the store, enabling makers to easily test out new products.
It also ensures that every time you visit the store there is something fresh and new to catch your eye, from the spectacular earring wall to the colourful upcycled lamps.
Belinda and Rachel have a rigorous selection process to ensure that each product at Far Fetched Designs is not easily found elsewhere, fits in with the current product mix and is something that their customers will love.
“Plus, every piece has a story – and quite often we know that story. When you visit Far Fetched Designs, the person who will most likely greet you is one of us. We are still in the store most days,” explains Rachel. “Customers love knowing where something has come from and how it is made; and because we have such intimate working relationships with all of our stockists, we’re often able to tell the story of each object, and even arrange customised products made to order.”
Though they are both makers with impressive work ethics, in all other ways Belinda and Rachel couldn’t be more different.
As Belinda puts it “I am a bit of a perfectionist,” whereas Rachel is all about progress over perfection. “Just call me quickstart,” she remarks when recalling the ten-hour shifts they put into their first-ever shop, scrubbing stickers off windows and chewing gum off the floor.
It’s this balance that has helped them thrive over the last eight years as business owners. They haven’t fought once since they joined forces, and after all this time their love for their work hasn’t faded.
When asked what she most enjoys about her job, Belinda says “I love anything new that comes in and seeing how creative other people can be. But my favourite part about coming to work is our customers,” with Rachel adding an emphatic “We are so lucky!” in agreement.
“We have been able to call Far Fetched Designs our ‘real’ jobs for eight years. It’s a lot of hard work, but so rewarding. We love what we do, our community and most of all our customers. I want to still be doing what we’re doing when we’ve got grandkids!”