From Small Beginnings
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From Small Beginnings

“Our expectations weren’t too grand, it just kind of happened,” Joel Cooper, one of the owners behind East Geelong giftware store Frank & Dolly’s, tells me of how the store came to be.

After spotting the small and peculiar storefront on Moorabool street, Joel Cooper and his partner Rachel made the jump from market stalls and dabbling in wholesale to curating their own space.

The leap into owning a business paid off in full, and now seven and a half years later the couple, along with Rachel’s mother Jane, have since moved to a bigger location on Garden Street and created a community of like-minded people around them.

“We had this really beautiful, natural start and we’ve always been the maker and the creator and curated our space to exactly how we’ve wanted it. And I think that’s really spoken for us,” he says.

“We’re a lot more interested in working with people rather than being competitive; collaborating and creating a space where people can come in and feel really comfortable to spend five minutes or an hour.”

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With many years experience under their belt, the space is slowly making its way towards the owners’ dreams of having a shop filled with products almost entirely their own.

Many of the garments on the racks are lovingly created at home, with new additions featuring hand painted strips of fabric as a feature on the garment and others with reverse printed marble dying.

Leather bags designed by the team hang proudly adjacent to their clothing line as does their own jewellery brand, featuring hand crafted pieces made from hammered brass. The phrases ‘pieces made with love’ (and one that’s shared on their site) comes to mind with each and every item.

“It’s still very natural and the process never feels like we’re on the clock,” Joel says of creating the items seen on the shelves.

“All this range is our hand panted range and it’s kind of this range that really took us to the next level in a way,” he says as he touches the popular Colour Eclipse maxi dress.

“Our biggest thing is to keep progressing, pushing and developing our own creative boundaries. Once we realised that we actually can make whatever we want to make, having that realisation was so exciting, because we were like, ‘Hang on, let’s paint garments’. Then when you see people respond to it, love it and actually buy it, you just want to keep stretching yourself and offer something that hasn’t been offered before.”

While the goal is to create a store that represents Joel, Rachel and Jane through their own products, there will also be space to showcase fellow local and international creatives – some of which have held a spot on their shelves from the first day of operation.

“We’re really thorough with the other stock we get in store so that it compliments our philosophy for making and producing. And ethically making as well which is a huge thing for us,” he says.

“We know every single person that makes every single product, whether that’s a locally made item like Ernest and Joe or an international maker like Datter Industries.”

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Beyond stocking local designers, Joel even takes time to give encouragement to those starting out. He’s taken a few small businesses under his wing and in the past has been involved with the Big Hearted Business program – further enforcing the idea that Frank & Dolly’s really are about collaborating, sharing ideas and creating a successful community as a whole.

With a background in dance, theatre and a lifetime of making between the three owners, there’s no denying that Frank & Dolly’s will continue to grow while maintaining the heart and soul behind everything they do.

“It feels like our dream is really expanding and growing and just really us. We walk in here and it feels like exactly what we’ve hoped,” he says.

Where: 72a Garden Street, East Geelong
When: Mon-Fri 10am-5.30pm; Sat 10am-4pm
Ph: 0422 154 211
Site: www.frankanddollys.com
Instagram: @frankanddollys

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