Introducing Rory and Olivia from The Unknown Project!
Rory and Olivia, are the two lovely women behind a new Brisbane based initiative called the
Unknown Project. It sounds a bit mysterious, and it is! The duo take good quality second-hand books, wrap them in brown paper and add clues about the book’s content. The buyer is essentially getting a lucky dip. And the best part? All proceeds go towards providing school resources to children from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds in Brisbane.
Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
The Unknown Project was started by the two of us, Rory and Olivia. We are best buds and study
Law/Economics together. This is the ‘blind date with a book’ concept, based on the adage ‘don’t judge a book by its cover. And we think the concept has a greater social message. Partnered with The Romero Centre, we purchase school packs from the proceeds.
Why do you do what you do?
The refugee crisis is such a topical and divisive issue in Australia. We saw a huge gap in these debates around effective settlement and community engagement with new arrivals in cultural exchange. With that in mind, we hope to facilitate, in this small way, access to the incredible educational opportunities that we were lucky enough to have. We hope the effect here is two-fold—that these kids have less barriers to access, and consequently, have greater community involvement that has the potential to flow on to their families and their broader school community.
Who are some other artists, crafters, creatives that you love? And why?
Some other Brisbane based social enterprises that we love are: Words With Heart and EcoPads.
Words with Heart is an environmentally responsible stationery and print service funding women’s and girl’s education projects. We are currently looking to partner with them to get Unknown Project
things printed. Exciting! EcoPads Australia operates on a one-for- one social enterprise model. They
offer cloth sanitary pads and with every purchase send one to a woman in need.
Both of us find great inspiration from the female social entrepreneurs that started both organisations.We both really look up to these ladies and are so excited to see where they head!
What excites you?
We are excited by other passionate people. It’s very easy to indulge in a culture of apathy, in
becoming a kind of victim of ignorance in these tumultuous times. But it’s very empowering to meet,
or get to work with people who are so actively ‘for’ something, and work so incredibly hard for that. I
think that’s why we are such good friends, and partners in this project, because our passion
complements each other’s, and we are constantly using each other as a sounding board.
We think of a rummage stall as a mini shopfront, how do you make your rummage stall your own?
Our stall is already a little bit different because unlike a lot of other people at Suitcase Rummage,
we’re only selling one product. We try to differentiate ourselves with simplicity – we think the plain
brown paper for the books and our signs draws the eye. At the last Rummage, we brought along some pot plants and throws to liven up the space a little bit.
Can you offer any tips on setting up a rummage stall?
The visual impact of your stall is so important – you want people to notice you as they walk by. We
try to make ours organised but not too boring. It’s also really important for people to be able to have a ‘rummage’ through your products – make it easy for people to see what you’ve got. If you have a
tonne of stuff to sell, maybe don’t have it all out at once, it’s hard to keep neat and people might find
it a little bit overwhelming.
What is the next step for you? What does the future hold?
We are currently in the throngs of packing our first set of ‘school packs’, and look to be able to make
up about 20-25 of these. We have also recently partnered with The Footpath Library, an organisation that collects donated books from the public and publishers and gives them to those without access to good quality reading material. They have generously donated many boxes of books, ready for us to wrap them up for our next Suitcase Rummage! We are currently investigating establishing a presence at the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week, a partnership with the Lord Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and sponsoring literacy workshops and Brisbane City Council Library homework clubs.
What’s your favourite place or thing to do in your city?
We love to have a boogie in the Valley. The live music scene in Brisbane is really cool at the moment.
There’s heaps of bars and restaurants popping up (but our favourite spot will always be the Brunno).
What do you like about attending Suitcase Rummage?
We love selling at Suitcase Rummage because we get so much positive feedback. So many people
walk past and have a look at our books and our sign and love the idea. They may not buy a book but it’s so encouraging to know people are getting behind the concept. And we love having a shop while we’re at it too. Suitcase Rummage has pretty much everything! And there’s a real feel-good element to it too, because almost everything is recycled.
Where we can we find and follow you?
Our Instagram: @unknownprojectaustralia
Our Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theunknownprojectaustralia/
We will be at the next Suitcase Rummage in West End this Sunday!