Meet OAK Magazine's number one stockist Rebecca Haack from Portia & Co.
Portia & Co is a beautiful space in Maldon, Victoria, to find something unique and special. Opened in 2018, this carefully curated store includes work from over 100 Australian designers, makers and artists.
Maldon is a historical gold mining region between the larger centres of Castlemaine and Bendigo, and just over a 90 minute drive from Melbourne.
It is a charming historic town with an added pinch of the arts, fine accommodation and niche retail experiences to add a little sophistication to the country feel. Wander past old weatherboard homes, solid stone buildings and decorative shop fronts in this lovingly preserved Australian gold mining town.
For a deeper dive into Rebecca's business story and everything you need to know about Maldon, listen to our special Take Me Somewhere podcast episode.
Tell us about your business and how it started?
Portia & Co started on a whim and a wild idea to open a retail space to showcase Australian artists, designers and makers.
My husband and I were visiting from Melbourne when we saw a 'for lease' sign on a vacant building along the main street.
It had big walls, big windows, very industrial and historic. I looked in [through a window] and thought that would look great with art hanging on the walls. I half jokingly said to my husband, 'I could open a shop there and run it part time'. He said sure and I did.
I quit my job. I was experiencing severe burnout from over 30 years working in community services and became a retailer. As a complete departure from my career in community services, I have learnt about retail along the way and really enjoy using my creativity.
What is your business personality – and who is your customer?
The offering is eclectic and contemporary - a wide range of art, homewares and gifts. I am grateful for the support of the community of Maldon as well as the passing tourists and visitors.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business?
It's very rewarding to be supporting so many small creative businesses - over 100 at last count. To find something unique and build a relationship with the maker or owner is just wonderful.
Who are your business besties?
With over 100 Australian makers, it's hard to pick a bestie! I'm very grateful to the artists who entrust me with their work and I love the way we all support and promote each other.
What are three business tools you cannot live without?
Lightspeed inventory and POS; Instagram for easy promotion and Xero for accounting and payroll.
Tell us something exciting that you have planned for your business in the next 12 months?
I think I've have taken my biggest risks already and that is opening in the first place - it was wild - and committing to being open seven days per week from the end of 2019 was HUGE. I would be excited if the next 12 months see a more consistent and sustainable growth. Then I could make some bigger plans.
Daily routines and every day store life
What routine or ritual helps to get your day started?
Just opening the doors of the shop in the morning still gives me a boost and feeling of pleasure. A quick spin around the shop to cast my eye over the variety and gorgeousness is a great way to start the day.
What music will we find on your store's playlist?
It is a carefully crafted, broad and eclectic playlist with a strong Indi folk rock vibe (Hollow Coves, First Aid Kit, Boy & Bear, Iron & Wine, etc) with a heavy sprinkling of Indi covers of classics.
What labels do you stock and how do you choose them?
I'm always on the look out for Australian small batch businesses that can offer something of quality and different. My priority is Australian owned and designed with Australian and hand made being the ideal. I try to keep ahead of my loyal customers so that I can keep bringing in new things for them.
What is special about where you live?
Maldon was established in the 1850's as a gold rush town and it has retained an intact historic streetscape set within natural hills and vistas. It is less than two hours drive from Melbourne. Maldon is good for a day trip but better for a longer stay. Book a cottage, dairy or church with Maldon Getaways for a relaxing and memorable holiday.
What other places are a must visit in your town?
Where can we get the best coffee in Maldon?
Le Sel is a French inspired cafe in Maldon with top notch coffee.
Spend time browsing interesting contemporary art, jewellery, homewares and gifts at Portia & Co, 34-36 Main Street, Maldon, Victoria.