I am lucky enough to have been raised by an op shop loving mother and grandmother, who taught me that it's easy to look like a million bucks dressed entirely by the $2 rack at Vinnies. These women are also hoarders who kept most of their wardrobes from the 70s and 80s, and as a child, my mum pulling out a box of her beautiful old clothes was better than Christmas.
All creatives trying to survive in contemporary Australia wear many hats… and also have an assortment of skills. I am primarily an actor, with a passion for musical theatre and comedy - naturally this led to a love of costumes, and I pride myself on my gigantic wardrobe which allows me to quickly disguise myself as almost any character. Since I was a teen I have been toying with the idea of having my own vintage clothing business, and in 2018 I met Jen Laycock, a fellow comedy actor who shares my passion for vintage fashion and runs instagram based business Fetch Vintage alongside her sister Alex. It was during an op shopping spree in Morayfield in mid 2020 that Jen encouraged me to start @grandmasjunk, as my beloved Grandma “Nen” was in the process of moving house and giving me more homewares than I had room for. I also expressed to Jen that I’d been thinking of upcycling old oil paintings for a long time… this was the birth of #nudescapes. @grandmasjunk officially launched on instagram on the 16th of August, 2020. I am so grateful to Jen for her initial and ongoing support.
My first big sale - the Mushroom bowl that started it all.
On the 22nd of August, I listed a 70s Mushroom bowl for $40, which skyrocketed the popularity of my page. Ten people were willing to buy it, which also boosted my confidence as an entrepreneur (my younger sister studies business, I have always been the creative one who is rubbish with finances). On the 28th of August, I posted 3 #nudescapes - oil paintings onto which I insert a (usually candid) shot of a bikini clad celebrity into as a way of recontextualising “beauty”.
Two of my first three #nudescapes.
I have always been bemused by Womens’ magazines which go to great lengths to capture every flaw in a bikini-clad celebrity’s body, which they mandate that the everyday woman should want to pore over and criticise... in order to feel better about her own body, I guess? Meanwhile, stunning oil paintings of Australian landscapes gather dust in op shops, which turned cogs in my mind - would people realise and understand the beauty of these “imperfect” bodies if the backdrop were not a tabloid, but a tableau? Initially, I created three #nudescapes, (with the support of my friend Karmen, who was over for a mooovie night at the time in our matching cow print op shop pyjamas) as a bit of a joke - and lo and behold, all three sold within the hour. I was stunned that my creative vision had found an audience, and since then have sold many more (even branching out into a personalised #nudescape of a customer on the beach with the Brangelina family!).
Although I enjoy selling second hand homewares, the success of the #nudescapes inspired me to create another personalised upcycled product - enter VHS: Very Hot Sleepovers.. For years I have been using empty VHS cases as clutch purses (they are the perfect size for phone/keys/card/lipstick) and I decided to keep in line with my sex positive branding to create something of a “dick appointment” kit - something to keep in your car or grab while running out the door to meet someone for casual sex, providing makeup wipes, lip balm, a hair tie, a toothbrush and a condom, in case you end up staying the night. These aren’t confined to the hetero normative narrative - they can be used by anyone for any last minute sleepover, and are a fun way to break the ice on arrival: “VHS and chill?”
My very first batch of 'VHS - Very Hot Sleepovers'.
By far the best part of starting my own business, other than the economic power it afforded me as a recently divorced woman, was the outpouring of love and support from my network of friends/customers. My cousin and his wife have a room in their house almost entirely decorated by my items, and everyone from close friends to acquaintances have been quick to purchase my wares and leave encouraging comments on my store. A bit off topic, but the last couple of years haven’t been easy for me emotionally, and experiencing others celebrating and sharing my love of upcycled vintage homewares has been life-affirming to say the least.
I worked at Arkive Vintage for 3 months in 2018 and was thrilled to have been part of such an admirable, cool af business, even for a short time. When Arkive offered to help me sell @grandmasjunk homewares in their store in December 2020, I was gobsmacked (I still am) that such a high end vintage retailer would want to associate themselves with my emerging business. Their faith in me boosts my faith in myself.
And here we are! I wrote this article from the cheap hotel room where I am stayed at for 5 weeks, debuting my one woman cabaret show SAME PENIS FOREVER in Adelaide Fringe Festival (creative professional - many hats!). As I rehearsed my show, @grandmasjunk was temporarily less of a priority, and I am so lucky to have been able to leave my wares in the capable hands of Arkive Vintage while I was away. You can catch my show SAME PENIS FOREVER at Back Dock Arts in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane on the 7th & 8th of September! If you'd like to stay updated with what I'm getting up to you can follow my Instagram or follow Grandmas Junk for more Vintage Homewares!