Along with most people, my business was hit during Covid, so I seized the opportunity to create a new venture. My primary activity is set design and construction, which I still love after thirty five years but about fifteen years ago, I diversified into commercial refurbishing, graphic design, and manufacturing aluminium custom screens. I have also dragged a few more hats into the arena to offer my clients as part of my overall design services.
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A few years ago, through life’s circumstances I arrived in a picturesque tiny village called Gundaroo. This is the home of Sally Paskins’ Store. It is south of Sydney and only a hop skip and jump from Australia’s capital, Canberra. The daily life here is nothing short of quaint and not much has changed in over a hundred years.
Sally Paskins’ Store is a little story book “slab hut”, as we Australians call them. It is a sort of two - bedroom cottage constructed from original local timbers. It’s well known in the region and remains almost unaltered since 1886. It sits in Cork St Gundaroo which is the main street. It’s also part of the wonderful world I live in.
The little store was originally run by Sarah (Sally) Paskins. Sarah, pregnant with their first child, sailed from England with her husband, bound for the Palmer River gold fields in North Queensland, Australia. She was only 16 years old and her remarkable story is still unfolding to me. After many adventures, she also settled in Gundaroo and opened her general store, where her beloved white cockatoo was a much - loved feature, as it often kept her company sitting on her counter. It was loved by the younger generation, who would frequent the shop to collect their lollies whenever they could.
The store has operated intermittently over the last century but for some time now it had been asleep. I would often go in there and just stand and stare at the daily newspapers that still adorn the walls. The old floorboards are still there too and a pesky possum would sometimes look down at me from the dusty rafters, rather put out when the lights went on as I had intruded on its quiet private sleeping space.
So, during Covid, I decided to dust off the rafters and set to work to bring back Sarah’s dream. I have such a strong connection with her history and also felt a sense of responsibility to do something with her store and story. I must admit it was a wonderful excuse to direct this passion of mine, which was feeling a bit dried up due to current circumstances. I guess like a lot of us creatives, I’ve used the time Covid had given to finally create a little line of homewares that is Sally’s very own. After 140 years Sally has her very own label. I have secretly wanted to produce a home-line and now had found the perfect time and opportunity to do just that. It felt right.
I began by creating a range of high - quality linen tea towels and aprons with a country theme, opening on weekends, initially on the verandah due to Covid restrictions. (We still had to find a way to provide the possumns with alternate accommodation). After designing interiors and large sets for so many productions, I welcomed the opportunity to finally create Sally’s label with a purpose and history behind it.  I’m excited to have the chance to present many unique designs under Sally’s watchful eye.
Now I wait patiently, like an excited kid, for the truck to finally pull up outside my store window.  I run out and wait for my brown boxes to appear and be handed to me. I sign for them and run inside and can’t wait to open them and see Sally’s newest designs spilling out onto the floor.
Sally Paskins’ Store is open every weekend. I would love you to visit Sarah’s store and experience another little world.
Best wishes