You know those people who hit the milestones early in the game, proving that forward thinking, ambition and hard work lead to epic journeys? Meet Fenwick Common’s Toby O’Keeffe.
Not yet a year out of high school, Toby has been feeding his entrepreneurial talent for quite some time. Utilising the basic marketing skills grasped from his product design studies, he built and operated his own small business and brand, SmoothTrim, from January 2017, selling online throughout his final year of high school.
Toby opened his first small pop-up at Fremantle’s MANY 2.0 for the Christmas period shorty after graduating. Soon realising the benefits of having a physical retail space, he established Fenwick Common in March 2018 and the rest, as they say, is history.
What has been the public’s reception to Fenwick Common so far?
We have had a positive response from the public both online and in store. Many have noted that the opportunity for brands to set up their own ‘customised’ space without the commitments of full time staffing and overheads is unique. On social media, some have noted the benefits of being able to experience a tangible product, which just simply isn’t possible whilst shopping online.
What kind of products will visitors find at Fenwick Common?
The cooperative is directed towards men’s fashion and style. With nine independent Australian brands onboard at current, one may find bamboo fibre shirts, Viking-inspired apparel, ‘future vintage’ jackets and westerns, and minimalist lifestyle clothing. We also have two Western Australian artists onboard, both of whom have a large established following: Wildergrim and Hella Good Studio stock a range of prints and other art products. Finally, our two specialised brands, Pulp Flicktion and SmoothTrim, stock a wide array of indie magazines and wooden fashion accessories respectively.
How do you go about finding and choosing the brands you stock?
At the moment we are taking on independent Australian brands from both WA and the East Coast. At first we were approaching brands by email, finding out which brands may be a potential fit through personal recommendations and existing connections. However, I began to realise that Instagram was an invaluable tool in both finding and connecting with potential brands. With our current brands involved we now have the ability to curate remaining spots to create an even more balanced and dynamic mix of products.
What does it mean to you to be able to create a physical platform for brands that might otherwise not be able to showcase their products?
It means a lot to me, both having my own physical space for my brand but also to be supporting other brands like mine in their similar pursuits. Perhaps I didn’t quite expect the project that would grant me this opportunity to fall under my own management! Creating this physical platform has reaffirmed my belief that the time is ripe for Australians to create their own brand or business, and that there are so many people and support networks emerging that can help you to achieve your goals. I hope that Fenwick Common can become one of these.
What’s it like to be surrounded by like-minded creative people at MANY 2.0?
Through organising this project I have come in to contact with a whole host of amazing and talented individuals at a range of different stages in their lives and careers. From students, lecturers, graduates, or just people trying something new. The one thing that all of these people have in common is creative ambition. Not one person is lacking in originality or ‘get up and go’. This is a trait that I think can be mutually beneficial to those involved in any project. By teaming up, we can harness this potential in a way that exceeds the general expectations of a retail store. With events and workshops in planning there will undoubtedly be a lot more to come from the team at Fenwick Common. I have already learnt so much from the brand owners involved and I look forward to gaining so much more in the months to come!
Any events or new projects in the works?
Our next event is coming up on Saturday the 5th of May 2018, a kind of official opening party for Fenwick Common. This event will be open to friends of Fenwick Common and MANY 2.0 and will include drinks, nibbles and of course an amazing range of unique Australian products for purchase! If you would like to ‘get an invite,’ just keep up to date on Instagram or Facebook. Looking to the future we have some ideas planned out for the rest of the year. Workshops or Artist in Residence sessions are a likely arrangement going forward with screen-printing, engraving and graphic design all possibilities. We would also love to involve other WA creatives in the space, whether it be photographers or film makers in another evening event.
MANY 2.0 – 52 Adelaide St, Fremantle