Keeping it real in our City

C+Co - The local creatives home

I remember the Freo markets of my childhood. Stuffed koalas, plastic flags, fake Akubra hats, fairy floss and fresh produce and the shoulder-to-shoulder hum of tourists both local and international. As a “grown up”, I’m pleased to see how the markets have evolved and with the arrival of boutique businesses like C+Co, it’s definitely growing in the right direction (don’t worry it still has the koala toys though!).

The first thing that strikes you in conversation with Claire Tincey, the owner of C+Co and one of its artists, is her enthusiasm and passion. With a background in Interior Architecture, a keen eye for good design, and being a talented artist herself, Claire found herself moving on from the construction & design industry and into something with a little more “heart and soul”.

Claire began, as most handcraft artisans do, on the Perth market circuit. Waking up at obscene-o’clock on the weekend to drive to a new location, unpack boxes and displays of products, was a necessary part of her journey but one she was happy to see end with the leasing of her ongoing Fremantle Market space last year. A space of her own has enabled her to collaborate as a co-op with other designers and handcrafters, hold higher stock levels, and showcase her suppliers in days like ‘Meet The Maker’.

The premise of C+Co is simple and quite clearly effective (judging by the sheer number of people who perused and purchased in my short time there). All the products in stock are handmade locally or designed and assembled in Perth, featuring the handiwork of Perth-based creatives and artisans, many of whom have businesses operating from their own homes or have businesses that started from a hobby and the simple desire to create beautiful things.

Furthermore, many of the products in stock are unique one-offs, or can be customised on request, and can not be found elsewhere in the Fremantle markets. There are brands you might recognise (such as Claire Tincey design, Made By Pearl, and Koko and Dama) and new ones like Sarah Pollit Resin Art and Ruby Lights.

I was also re-educated about the affordability of handmade items. I, like many people, often associate artisan products with hefty price tags and C+Co has set out to rectify that misconception. Yes, we can expect them to be more expensive than Kmart, but what I noticed was that the average price point in C+Co was $30 – locally created products don’t have to be expensive.

In fact, I walked away with a stunning new pair of semi-precious stone earrings from Blanke and a divine diffuser from Ruby Lights for less than $50 (yes, these are the “perils” of checking out rad local businesses!).

C+Co also creates pop-up stores which run periodically outside of the Fremantle Markets to reach new areas of the community, especially in the central & northern suburbs. These pop up stalls run for weeks at a time and are usually generous in space, which means Claire can bring in more local products to showcase to the shoppers of Perth, test the popularity of new ranges or designers, and broaden the variety of homewares and gifts in stock.

Her last pop up at Watertown in the CBD at Christmas was met with much support, both from shoppers and local artisans alike, so we can expect to see more of these across Perth in the future. Claire also encourages non-competitiveness between the creatives, ensuring that she’s not stocking multiple businesses of the same products, such as candles, resin art, or dreamcatchers, which means that a designer or artists knows that their product has prime position to be noticed (and loved).

But the thing I adore most about the ethos of C+Co, is Claire’s positive relationship with her suppliers and collaborators and how particular she is about bringing new products on board. As I browsed the adorable collections, from baby presents, to memorable tourist items, to the perfect Mothers Day gifts, Claire was able to tell me a little about each designers style, method, their name, and even the families and children supported by their work.

And that’s such an important thing to remember, that while corporations like Kmart have their place (Claire and I both agreed we had a fondness for Kmart homewares!) buying locally designed and handcrafted items not only adds a layer of integrity and uniqueness to a collectable piece, but the money from that sale goes directly to the artists and handcrafters, their kids, and their community.

Instagram: candco_perth

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