In June 2015, we stumbled upon a post from a place called 'Renew Adelaide' advertising rent free spaces just off Rundle Mall. By this stage, we were nearly 2 years into running ODS, had been to every market in Adelaide and had an online store. We had been discussing the next step, which for us, was opening a retail store but we really weren't sure we'd every be able to afford it. At the time, we were handcrafting everything from our 3 bedroom rental in Netley, and Sharni had just quit her job as chef at a local cafe to focus on growing ODS. We are big believers of 'everything happens for a reason' and thought the universe must have put that post in front of us for a reason, so we applied! We had to put together a 'mood board' to show off our plans and discuss our future goals etc. Nervous as heck we arrived and sat down to a room full of people and talked passionately about what we had planned for the store and ODS and how far we thought we could take it. Within a week, we had received a phone call to say we had been accepted into the program and that we had a month to fit out the store as they were going to throw a massive grand opening party for us and the other stores on the program.
One month.. 30 short days to learn about retail and how to fit a shop out, PLUS handcraft enough products for not only online but also to fill an entire store! Sharni would wake up extra early and start product prep and I (Nikki) would get up early and go to my full-time job as a Project Manager for a Commerical landscape company. Once I'd finish at work, I'd ride Sharni's moped into the city (she'd have my car to pick up ingredients) and start the shop fit out. We used a lot of Ikea furniture and secondhand shelves and boxes that we found on gumtree as we weren't sure how long the store would last through the program. We spent every single cent we had on the fit out and signage to try and turn our dreams into reality. The end product at the time was perfect, looking back now it could have been better.. haha!
We opened our doors in July 2015 and severed over 50.. FIFTY!? people in the first hour. We'd never seen so many people in such a small space. We had prizes and games, gave lots of freebies away and raised money for a greyhound rescue charity. We had the best and most stressful time of our lives. We'd been to markets nearly every weekend but that wasn't our own store, this hit different.
In that time we kept making at our rental in Netley but on the odd occasion, Sharni would bring her mixers and piping bags into the store and make in there whilst serving customers. We set up a bakery style cabinet where you could choose a bubble bath and we'd add Bubbly Icing to it right in front of you. Sharni worked there every weekday and on Friday nights, I'd catch the tram in from my full-time job to work until close and I'd work all day Saturday, to give Sharni a chance to do nothing but focus on prep. We'd pack orders in the store and put a 'back in 10' sign up so we could run down to the post office on Rundle Mall to send off our online orders. It was so full on and we LOVED it.
We stayed on the Renew Adelaide Program for just under a year. In that time we released new products, learnt A LOT about retail, hired staff AND I was even able to quit my job.. not because the store was making us a lot of money but because I was so unhappy working for someone else when my whole passion was ODS.
Just before the year was up, our 'dream' store in Regent Arcade became available - remember the whole 'everything happens for a reason' thing.. well, the program generally only allowed a max 12 month rent free period before you had to move onto a Commerical lease or move out and at the 12 month mark, shop 26 became available! So, we stressed a lot and I mean A LOT, negotiated the rates and signed our first official Commerical lease....