Maya Brasnovic – Made:Here
Visiting Liverpool you could easily think the main parts of the city are Westfield and Liverpool Mall, however the locals know it’s the lively lanes that connect the city from North to South where real life is being lived. Each lane has its own personality from music schools, to wedding planners, barbers and seamstresses. If you want to truly experience Liverpool, ducking down a laneway is the way to do it.
Identifying an opportunity to encourage a creative retail hub at the south end of the CBD, Liverpool Council has recently launched The Liverpool Pop Up campaign offering vacant shop fronts in Northumberland Street Arcade to start-ups, social enterprises, community groups or artists to set up a temporary retail shop.
The Westies chatted with Maya Brasnovic who has set up her shop Made:Here selling art and design pieces created by local artists, designers, crafters and makers about her inspiration for opening the shop and where she hopes it will lead.
I feel people in Liverpool deserve nice things too.
The Westies : What inspired you to open a pop-up shop in Liverpool?
Maya: The council put out an expression of interest request and I had, had this idea for a while. I lived in London for a little bit and where I was living, these kind of shops were on every street with stationary, giftware and art. Every few weeks a different artist would be displayed, and I loved that. I would always go in and buy something. When I came back to Sydney, I was a little bit sad. Sydney just didn’t seem as vibrant [as London] As part of the application, I had to make a business plan. When I was doing the research, trying to find shops like this in Sydney – there were only three or four that stood out. I thought it’s a good idea to set up my own shop. I put an application in and they said yes, and then the real work started.
The Westies : What has the Liverpool Council given to you, what was the agreement?
Maya: It’s the space, at a peppercorn rate (a very small payment) and also support from a business adviser for four free sessions, which is extremely helpful for someone who’s never run a business or anything. The council check up on us to make sure we’re on track with our business plan, which I had to write as part of the application. Liverpool Council advertise the shop, send out press releases and help with networking through all their connections, which is fantastic. The council have been great. If I go to them with an idea, they go and try to make it happen.
The Westies : You studied at design Western Sydney University, is that right? What did you study?
Maya: Yep. Visual communications (design). Now I’m a graphic designer/illustrator. Before I went to London, I worked at Fairfield RSL. I was there for five years, I was their designer and looking after everything. That was a really good experience, because I got to do a wide range of things, they gave me a lot of freedom. I learned a lot there. In London I worked freelance, that was really amazing because you get to meet new people all the time, do different work and see every part of London there is to see.
The Westies : What do you think this initiative of making spaces available to artists and creatives at affordable rent means for somewhere like Liverpool?
Maya: Liverpool is changing, with new high-rise buildings, University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University buildings, the hospital and TAFE. There are going to be a lot more people using the entire city, not just Westfield. Having shops like Made:Here, will give them something to do and see.
I see a lot of people, they are scared to come into the shop, they say it’s “too nice”,and that “Liverpool doesn’t do this”. Hopefully we can encourage a little shift in people’s thinking. I feel people in Liverpool deserve nice things too.
The Westies : You have the lease on the shop for six months, what would you like to achieve in that time?
Maya: If I can have six exhibits from six different artists and if they sell their work, and I make the money back that I’ve put in, I’m happy. That’s enough for me; but on a bigger level, I would like for people who are not into art, to come and buy art and feel comfortable with it. I want buying art to be a normal part of life – that’s what I felt in London. You go buy the groceries, and then you stop by a shop to look at some art, maybe you buy something and then you go home. That’s just a normal day.
Interview: Katrina James
Photos: Katrina James