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The She Club – a new co-retail space owned and operated by migrant women in Fitzroy

The She Club features four retail spaces under one roof, highlighting products with roots in India and Latin America. One of those is El Boske Botanico, also a retailer at the Made by Many Hands online marketplace, run by Migrant Woman in Business Brenda Gil …

When you step off of the busy intersection of Gertrude and Smith streets and enter the She Club, it feels as though you’ve been whisked away to a beautiful faraway place. That was the goal of migrant entrepreneurs Ridhima Sachdeva, Karin Rosacolles, Brenda Gil and Alejandra Laiton, who have collaborated to create this brand new co-retail space in Fitzroy.

The founders met through different co-retail spaces and despite each hailing from different countries, they soon realised that while they had many differences, they also had a lot of similarities. They decided to create their own community space together, and the idea for the She Club was born.

“We started the lease in July, and then we ended up being in lockdown until November,” says Sachdeva. “It was actually a blessing in disguise. We used the time to add beauty to the space, and we all really supported each other through the process.”

From the outside, it’s impossible to conceive how much is going on inside of the space. The first business you see when you enter is Sachdeva’s embroidery experimental lab called Hemera Labs. The walls are covered in gorgeous beaded and embroidered wall arts, scarves, headbands, jewellery and more that have been designed and curated in Melbourne and then produced by a select few artisan families in Asia.

Just down the hallway and in the next room, you’ll find Latina Styles. This fashion enterprise is the brainchild of Karin Rosales, who was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. The shop offers high-quality activewear, swimwear and fashion accessories that have been ethically sourced from well-respected Latino designers. Some of the swimwear is even made from recycled plastics and materials from the ocean.

At the back of the building is El Boske Botanico, which translates to ‘the botanical forest’. Run by Brenda Gil, an urban green designer, the idea was to create a local enchanted garden inspired by Latin American culture. Here, you’ll find eco-friendly, reusable and sustainable products, and you her wares continue out through the back into the nursery where you’ll find indoor and outdoor plants, traditional handmade pots, wind chimes and more.

“All of the terracotta that I have is handmade by artisans in Colombia,” says Brenda. “We are not just sharing our cultures here in Melbourne but also backing our cultures back at home. It’s a way to keep our culture and traditions alive.”

The courtyard space feels incredibly peaceful and cut off from the business of Fitzroy, and there are seating areas where you can relax and take in the serenity. If you feel like a cuppa, you can enjoy a selection of chai from the Chai Shai Cafe run by Sachdeva and her partner Sahil.

All of the spices used to make the chai are sourced directly from the gardens of Assam and the mountains of Darjeeling, and the hope is to give an authentic chai experience like you would have on the streets of India.

The shop also has an upstairs workshop where the collective is hoping to run a series of masterclasses and workshops, including a succulent arrangement class, a macramé workshop and a facial oils class.

The She Club is located at 69 Smith Street in Fitzroy.

Hear Radio 3CR’s ‘The She Club’ interview [from 53m]

[Source: article by Adena Maier, Time Out Melbourne, 2/12/21]

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