My apologies to overseas and interstate readers – this story isn’t going to be much help to you, but I couldn’t resist this one. It’s so hard these days to find original, quirky and PRICE FRIENDLY gift ideas, that when I stumbled across RED PROJECTS, I knew I had to do write a story. Especially with Valentine’s Day around the corner.
For those who might be able to make it to St Kilda, it’s definitely worth a visit. I was walking down Acland Street – deliberately to buy one of those amazing sugar-free yoghurt treats I mentioned on Tuesday – when I stopped to read some amusing metal signs featuring astrology traits, which were sitting outside a shop.
In fact, it was the Aries description that caught my eye, (you can buy both negative and positive versions for each star sign) because that’s supposed to be about Fletch. Which clearly it isn’t. Self-centred? Bossy? Never. There’s only one word that applies and that’s probably Too Much Information. (guesses welcome in the comments section)
Next to the star signs was a canvas that also appealed. I was looking for something masculine and neutral for Tom’s bedroom, and wondered whether the Melbourne locations board might suit. At a sale price of just $75, I thought that was pretty good value so decided to check out what else was inside the store.
And there I met Carolin, who said she’s had Red Projects for about seven years. She started up in Port Melbourne but moved to St Kilda when the rent became too steep.
‘It’s a smaller space,’ said Carolin.’ But I live in St Kilda and I love it here, so it’s great to live and work in the same suburb.’
The shop might be small, but it’s jam packed with hidden treasures. Carolin says she never buys anything for the shop that she wouldn’t buy herself.
Her love of St Kilda is reflected in the shop’s wall mural, painted by local artist Greg Irvine, which highlights all the local landmarks.
Given Valentine’s Day is just next week, I asked Carolin what her best suggestions were for gifts. There’s plenty of jewellery to pick from – an appropriate piece for next week being these sterling silver heart pendants – designed by Carolin herself.
Carolin says she loves being in the gift business. ‘ I love to shop. It’s great because I get to go to the trade fairs and it’s like shopping for myself, except I get to buy multiples in every colour!’
These bells are also a popular gift, (and very economical!!) but Carolin says they don’t come with guaranteed results.
I asked Carolin how she deals with difficult customers who don’t know what they’re looking for.
‘It is a challenge and it’s difficult,’ she said. ‘But if I really can’t find something for the customer myself, I leave them to look on their own and generally they always find something.’
FOR THE WALL…
It would be hard NOT to find something that suits. Carolin is also big on SIGNS. There are signs everywhere – wooden, metal, big small – all featuring quirky sayings or pearls of wisdom. One set of smaller wooden signs comes from a couple that live in the country and make them by hand. Mostly they’re about pets.
There are also canvases of all descriptions featuring photographs. My favourite is the black and white ‘Bathing Beauties’ from a 1950s snap.
If you’re after an original art piece, these hand-made butterfly pictures come in all types of patterns, and each one is unique.
I could write forever about the number of home-wares in Red Project, but here are two that caught the eye – both bargains!
As for QUIRKY, there’s plenty that fits the bill here… How about a Phrenology head or china palm-reading hand???
But the weirdest ones of all are the Vegetable Pets. I’m not sure who would actually buy them, but there are fascinating… and quite ugly. I mean, a Cauliflower dog? Seriously? At least they’re cheap…
Carolin is also keen on vintage designs. If you’re looking for extra special gift cards, these classics are priceless. Made by an artist in Byron Bay, they feature vintage images on balsa wood, which is then pasted to the card. Beautiful!
FOR THE KIDS
For the kids, my fave are these plush microwaveable soft toys that act as bed warmers. So cute and cuddly! I’m sure I’m not too old to have one…
But no. I need to grow up. Learn the great lessons of life and bestow that wisdom upon my children. Luckily there are dozens of different wise owls hanging around Carolin’s shop so I browsed and I browsed….
…and I settled on this pair. They now live happily in our sunroom. I can feel the wisdom. It’s coming….
If you’d like to visit RED PROJECTS, head to 112 Acland Street, St Kilda.
For enquiries, phone (03) 9525 5255