Our latest Rummage introduction is with our Co Founder and Director, Daniele. Sometimes she gets a little squeamish talking about herself here, which is why its taken us so long to get this interview out of her! It’s full of useful recycling tips, her dreams for Rummage and tackling other worldly problems. But really, it’s just nice to hear a little more about what this lass does when she’s not setting up a market somewhere!
Can you tell us a little bit about your sweet self? My name is Daniele and I am an artist, art therapist and co founder of Suitcase Rummage. I enjoy thrifting for second hand goods, getting chatty with friends over a peppermint tea and bush walking. I also try to make art projects centred around sharing stories, sharing vulnerability; and showing the humanness in all of us.
What do you like to do to keep your toes tapping and the neurons in your brain firing? i.e. What do you do in your spare time? I love to move, dance, sway, stretch, walk, and I find that if I don’t do that regularly enough I start to get a little fiery, frustrated and stuck! I joined a pottery studio about two years ago now and while I haven’t been able to attend lately (too much travel and work!), I do find it to be the best balance of creativity, community and meditation. When I am on the wheel it seems that all the thoughts swimming around my head start to swim around with the clay. Sometimes they stick, other times they end up in the bowl, sometimes they leave altogether which is always the best. Suffice to say, it’s very mindful and meditative and I don’t know what the heck I was doing before I joined Clay School! The added bonus is I now have my very own pottery collection of odds and ends, warped bowls, misshapen mugs and I love every darn one of them. The appreciation is real!
Is your creative process rigid, fluid, sporadic? And how do you stay in the groove? Ooh, this is tricky. I think it changes! I suppose it’s a combination of all of the above. I do find a structure and routine helps, otherwise I can become easily distracted by other looming deadlines and ‘things that need to get done’. Working from home can be a blessing and a curse. I’ll just put a load of washing on in between this email or after this song and then there’s an hour of my creative time gone! I have noticed more recently that my best thinking is done walking and I really don’t enjoy being cooped in a room or in front of a computer (unless I need to be), so if there is a way I can structure some nature time around my creative projects it’s really fantastic. Also, collaborators. Working alongside other artists and creatives is where the best feelings are and where my best work has come from. They often challenge my need for structure and bring a little more spontaneity in.
What are your hopes, dreams and fantasies? They are ever changing. At the moment my hopes and dreams include travelling with my Father to Greece (to the island where his Father, my Grandfather was born) and seeing the house he grew up in. My Dad was born and grew up in Australia, but his Greek heritage and history is strong and it’s something I feel very grateful to have shared with me over the years. I’d like to learn more, eat good food and hear him speak Greek with some locals! Also on the travel list is to take my Mum to Portugal. Both of my parents love to travel, but rarely take time out to do it. I’m trying to be a gentle persuader. I have big dreams for Suitcase Rummage ~ an online shop, rubbish walks and collections with our community, setting it up overseas (imagine a Rummage in Japan!), and so many others. It can be really challenging running a small business and it’s not something I ever set out to do. It’s constant learning and a balancing act between the day to day tasks that need to get done (to keep everything in motion) and trying to start new ventures on top of things. We are getting there, slowly but surely! I also have much bigger dreams for society and the world we live in. Often that’s where my mind drifts, to trying to solve the big problems inside my mandarin sized mind. Wanting to change our attitudes towards recycling and consumption, refugees seeking a new home in our country, becoming more okay with sharing vulnerability… I usually try to solve the problems through dreaming up some giant art project or deciding to start a political party. It’s nice, but sometimes can feel a little futile. I’m a big believer in dreaming, but also, I really like action. So, the two sometimes have to wrestle it out.
What’s the best and/or the worst advice you’ve ever received? “It’s only temporary” – It’s true! Everything is temporary. While this is as equally destabilising as it is reassuring, it’s one of my go to’s when things aren’t falling into place, when I’m rushing or when I’m feeling anxious. Things change all the time, our thoughts, feelings, situations. I find it useful to remember that – and I think it also makes the good times feel even more sacred. I can’t think of any bad advice, but I am sure there has been plenty! Perhaps it’s good thing if none of it has stuck?!
Who would you have over for your dream dinner party and what would you serve up? I always love having a dinner party with my family and friends, so it just wouldn’t be right if they weren’t invited, particularly if I get to extend the invitation to include some celebs! For me, a winning dinner party is all about good food and hearty conversation. I would like it to be set in a garden, we would gather all our ingredients from a local farmers market earlier that day and we would make the food together. I like the idea of making something that takes time, so we all eat, make and talk together. My special guests would be: Patti Smith, Deepak Chopra, Bruce Chatwin, Arundhati Roy, Deborah Mailman, Aziz Ansari, David Letterman and Yotam Ottolenghi. I tried really hard to make that list as short as possible!
What do you like about working for Suitcase Rummage? I often wonder how I got to where I am and have moments of disbelief that Suitcase Rummage still exists. It really was a wild idea and never something I thought would have grown as it has. I feel quite chuffed that I get to work for something I believe in and what keeps me going is the hope that we are making a difference. That we are diverting clothing from landfill, that we are changing habits and generating more awareness about our environmental impacts and the production chain. But it’s challenging, that’s for sure! I think a lot of small businesses are misrepresented as much bigger than what they are. It’s a double edged sword because you want to seem proficient and professional and like you can take on anything! But, the reality is I work from home and manage a freelance career on the side because neither one of them make enough to pay the rent!
More than the flexibility and the supreme vintage finds I’ve scored over the years – it’s the people that make it worthwhile. Over the last eight years I have had the pleasure of meeting some truly lovely people, having great conversations, picking up some well loved treasures – and that is what I love about markets. You are meeting the person you are buying from, whether that is the maker or the collector, everything has a story and you get a little glimpse into its life and where it has been, before you take it home and continue the story.
What tips can you share about being aware of your impacts on the world? I think we all need to take more personal responsibility for our impacts on the world. Whether it is environmental, ethical, emotional. We all contribute and I think it’s about time we recognise that we do – and that small actions do make a difference. I think some things are really clear and simple – but they get really complicated because we don’t have great systems in place. Take recycling for example! Recycling in general has been getting a lot more coverage lately with things like War on Waste taking it to the masses (yes!). Unfortunately though, for some of the big companies it is still unclear where these recycled products go at the end of the line or inconsistent at best. In Australia, we have a lot of work to do to get our recycling policies and procedures up to standard. Each local council should have a public policy and guide to recycling in their city or town, so I recommend looking that up as a starting point for recycling general items from home. Such simple things like emptying water bottles or taking lids off (which can’t be put in the current recycling) really help the process. Also, check what you’re throwing in the bin!! So often it doesn’t need to go in there… There are some fantastic initiatives like The Bower in Sydney and Reverse Garbage in Brisbane and Sydney that accept donations of all kinds of products. Fabric scraps, tiles, plastics, broken mechanics all get reused and repurposed in these places. There is no need for them to end up in your garbage bin. I know that throwing something in the bin is most convenient thing to do – but we need to take more responsibility personally for how we dispose of our waste. If you don’t want to feel guilty about throwing something out, consider where it will end up before you buy it.
Start a compost! Take your soft plastics to a designated drop off point! Take your old clothes to a charity store or sell them at a Rummage! Host a clothes swap! Say no to straws and tell the restaurant or bar or cafe why they shouldn’t stock straws anymore! Buy recycled toilet paper! Use chemical free washing products!
I really believe there are no good excuses anymore for not being more active in our communities and just living with more consideration and care. There is so much information out there (and I know, sometimes it can be overwhelming). I just feel that the impacts our actions are having on the world are not visible enough in our day to day, in our workplaces, in our neighbourhoods, at our parks, at our beaches. We need to change our attitudes and habits and realise that it is a global problem and it affects all of us. Australia is up there as one of the biggest polluters in the world and we have the resources, education and communication tools to change it. Sadly, we don’t. I don’t mean to get all doom and gloom! I do believe it’s possible to change and there are some incredible people, NFP’s and businesses all doing it. Let’s just get better at supporting them and share your good tips with others!
Which artists/thinkers/creatives are you obsessed with at the moment? I think my intake of creative material these days is highly affected by how much screen time I need for work. So, while I am a sucker like the rest of us on social media, I have been trying to take greater care with who I follow, why and what my brain and heart get out of it. It’s always a balancing act and a challenge not to get too deep into the abyss of instagram! Having said that, these are a couple of my current favourites: Mrs Press (Clare Press) – sustainable fashion advocate and hosts the podcast ‘Wardrobe Crisis’. The Travelling Light – travel writer and photographer (full of whimsy and light). Miranda July – long time favourite artist. Writer, Film Maker and just all round quirky, honest and brave woman.
When I manage to sit down and read, I love to flick through the latest edition of Womankind, New Philosopher or Dumbo Feather and make collages from my old magazines. When I manage to leave the house I love to go for a bush walk, a swim, watch the sunset and visit art galleries. I think these by far are my greatest motivators, sources of wonder and inspiration. It beats anything on my phone or laptop screen! And I do enjoy a podcast from time to time, especially when I am travelling. Favourites include: On Being, You Made it Weird and Longform.
What are your favourite things to do in your city? I am a little in between cities and places at the moment, so I thought I would list something for all the places we currently rummage in. Unsurprisingly I list mostly food, art and walking tracks!
Brisbane: Breakfast at West End Coffee House, bush walks in Mt Cootha, bagels at Scout, a swim at sunset at Enoggera Resevoir.
Melbourne: Pies and cakes from Babka, vintage shopping along Brunswick Street and Gertrude Street (Fitzroy), visit NGV and if you can, visit the Heidi Gallery!
Canberra: Watch the hot air balloons at sunrise and take a walk around Lake Burley Griffin, breakfast at Mocan + Green Grout, visit the Portrait Gallery and see James Turrell light works at NGA.
Sydney: Get out of the city and go for a swim at one of the many beautiful beaches! And, it goes without saying, you must try the chocolate tarts from Bourke Street Bakery. MCA is always worth a visit too!
Where can we find your work? For all my art projects you can take a gander on my website: danieleconstance.squarespace.com You can follow my personal instagram account over @danieleconstance