Emile 7 years old PHOTOGRAPHER Amelia Stanwix The Galerie
I was fortunate to spend the morning perched amongst the trees in poster heaven, The Galerie. As I embark on exploring artwork for my daughters bedroom and our child friendly spaces, I knew a visit to the newly launched The Galerie’s Fitzroy showroom was a must.
Arriving at the unassuming door and entry revealed a collection rich in colour, timeless posters and a vibrancy that appeals to both young and old alike. Owner of The Galerie, Shelley Collins – Trbuhovich and manager Michelle greeted me to show me their extensive collection and the beautiful new space which is perfect for the poster novus, enthusiast and collector and perfectly suited to adorn the walls of little ones spaces.
Please join us on the journey of The Galerie and read on to learn more about their up-and-coming family friendly morning teas.
How did The Galerie come to be?
The Galerie Fitzroy started life as Galerie Montmartre founded by Shelley Collins Trbuhovich and Stephan Trbuhovich in October 2002. We began as an online gallery, showing our collection out of a local storage facility and nationally at vintage and trade fairs. We opened a retail space in 2007.
Stephan and I saw original vintage posters for the first time while living in the USA in the mid-1990s. We were hooked from our initial purchases and after years of collecting, set about a plan to make our passion our business when we returned from Australia. And here we are re-branded, in our beautiful new gallery and HQ all these years later.
Who makes up The Galerie team?
The Galerie team consist of Shelley, owner/Director/crazy maker and Michelle Clarke, Manager and go-to girl. The Galerie is assisted by Humming group, Jo for design work, Todd for tech and DD our book-keeper and Brendan our accountant.
What are your career backgrounds?
Shelley : I was a casual employee for a clothing chain, worked around the state in their stores, moved to part-time role in head office, became full-time window dresser and visual merchandiser. After graduating with a Bachelor of Education (primary) in 1994, I moved to the U.S. (San Francisco and New York) managing the immigration department for an Australian based computer consulting company. On returning to Melbourne in 2001 I taught grade 1 and 2 at Montmorency Primary School while building Galerie Montmartre after hours.
Michelle: I worked the usual fashion retail jobs while studying a Bachelor of Arts with an Art History major at Melbourne University. After a chance meeting with Stephan in Brunswick Street, and subsequently falling in love with posters, I took on a part-time role at Galerie Montmartre in 2008, while juggling casual retail work and a Honors year of Art History. After graduating in 2008 Galerie Montmartre took me on as full time, and I’ve been here since!
What inspires you creatively and personally?
Shelley: interiors / fashion / Renegade Collective magazines; business and personal growth books; instagram and blogs; the ocean; connecting with other business owners; visiting galleries and retail spaces; sharing food and conversation with my tribe of loved ones; personal / professional stories of others; journaling; travelling; day trips and holidays.
Michelle:my family and friends; long talks with women who are really making it in their chosen space, be it business or creative pursuits; books – fiction, non-fiction, coffee table, all types! Travel – Europe never fails to blow my mind with its beauty, history, people, sounds and tastes. My annual poster buying trip to France in May has become something I look forward eagerly, and I’m like a sponge when there, trying to savour every last piece of the experience. Melbourne – no place I would rather live. Sure I can’t stand the cold but this city has so much happening, no matter what your style. We embrace an event like no other city, we build little communities of like-minded tribes, we support art and sport and alike.
Tell us about the process of choosing posters.
We are constantly on the lookout for posters. Constantly! We have built a number of wonderful contacts worldwide, and now, thanks to the wonders of the internet and email, communication is pretty much non-stop. However, a trip to Europe and/or the USA remains a vital line to maintaining relationships and building new ones. Actually being there comes with bonus offers, on the spot discoveries, unearthing something wonderful and generally just renews our lust for posters.
It is difficult to not select what we love, however for both Shelley and I our poster-love is fairly wide and deep, so there’s not much we would turn away from. We have an exceedingly loyal client base, they let us know quickly what they like, and even better they trust our judgement. As much as we take into consideration client requests, we also love to introduce people to new posters, artists and styles. It’s a constant two-way conversation.
What are some great tips for parents choosing posters for their child’s spaces?
Go for something you love as much for yourself as for your child, something you can picture living in more than one space in your home. Often the art we choose for our children moves to various locations in the house as they grow. It is a beautiful reminder of a special time that passes all too quickly, so let it be something that delights you to look at.
What are your goals for The Galerie in 2015 and beyond?
We have so many! We are focused on getting our HQ schmick and ready for classes, events and exhibitions. We are working to build The Galerie Fitzroy brand by honing our social media presence, starting Shelley’s blog and building our various online communities whilst of course expanding our poster collections.
We want to make The Galerie Fitzroy as accessible as possible with open days, morning and afternoon teas and corporate events.
We hope to develop our art delivery and hanging service which is already an important part of our offering, but we want to enhance this.
Shelley: How do you balance family time? Who is your village?
Oh far out, I don’t know even where to begin with this! I have been both sole parenting and directing the business since June 2010, when tragedy struck our family. The boys were 2 and 4 years old at the time, so I honestly feel I am only now coming out of a whirlwind of ‘managing’, as opposed to ‘balancing’, personal and professional time.
Long story short : Once we’d opened our retail space, we soon recognised the demands of two children under the age of 2 and running a small business. So we began building a strong Galerie team with the eventual plan of extricating ourselves from the everyday nitty gritty of running the gallery, work more behind the scenes and try and gain some sort of balance between family and work. The lines between both are so blurred when you have your own venture that you tend to adopt a haphazard way of operating, ie. an enthusiastic, passionate, knowledgeable mess, fly by the seat of your pants, move where the opportunities lead, expect the unexpected, ensure minimum output, maximum effort … all while being readily available to two tiny, little, needy human beings. So by the time Stephan suffered his massive brain bleed and subsequent brain injury, The Galerie team were very used to working in a self-sufficient, pro-active type manner. Michelle stepped into management. We survived on minimal meetings, but regular contact, trust and faith in each other, a love for our business, self-belief, just one foot in front of the other, continuing the vision and culture that Stephan and I envisioned.
Micro-management is not my thing, nor was it Stef’s. I try to make my big picture and preferences clear, then allow Team Galerie to play their strengths and develop roles that are meaningful to them within that framework. It’s not for everyone, and there’s the odd testing issue here and there, but on the whole it seems to work for us. And what I’ve realised in retrospect is that this very style of running a business has allowed me to balance putting my little blokes and our well-being first, which is paramount, if I am to effectively lead our family and The Galerie Fitzroy.
These days my village consists of my parents who are the boys carers after me. I cannot praise them enough, they live in the next suburb and drop everything anytime to support us.
My personal tribe – they fill all the gaps emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically for the three of us – they’re vital.
Clifton Hill – I often say it’s like living in the middle of a great big warm hug, the boys go to the local school, there are old kinder and school parents who help out in a heartbeat. They along with school staff have a real compassion for my boys… can’t put a price on that.
My brother often plays advisor, keeps me sane and grounded.
Michelle-Belle – manager extraordinaire. She listens to me waffle on, loyal, patient and consistent, she understands the need for me to be available to the boys first and foremost without once shaming me. All my small business contemporaries ask me how they can find ‘a Michelle’.
What has been the best thing about being your own boss?
The flexibility to work around my families needs., no day ever looks the same. I also get a kick out of watching ideas come to life, tax write-offs for work related books and materials, and, depending on my mood, I love that the buck stops with me.
How are your days structured around your children and family?
On weekdays, I wake between 5.30 and 7 am, allows me time for myself, sit with a cuppa and focus on what needs doing, journal and make lists. Then it’s waking the boys at 8 am, school run and home duties.
My ‘contact time’, so to speak, is from 10 am – 3 pm Monday – Thursday. I squeeze in as much as possible – meetings, visits, emails, phone calls, decisions, writing, thinking, reading, poster sorting, gallery zhushing, poster pricing, lunches, texts, social media, schmoozing, storage, strategising, occasional hop girl, bills and banking.
Then it’s school pick-up and hang with the little blokes. Everything else, unless desperately needed, waits until after dinner. I usually put in an hour at night on the stuff that doesn’t need too much mental energy, only more if it’s absolutely necessary.
On Fridays I play domestic goddess.
I love working in the retail space, covering staff holidays and time out. That’s when my village really comes to the fore. I feel like superwoman when I manage those weeks being in The Galerie as shop girl – Tuesday to Saturday 10 am 5 pm. Getting the kids to school, leaving a tidy house, looking as close to a million bucks as I can, making healthy home cooked meals daily and no one getting harmed in the process.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Professionally – Years ago I read a little book called ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ by Richard Carlson. One of the chapters stated that ‘the in-box is never empty’… simple, but true. I also love saying ‘cut off the dead wood’, which I translated into Oz-speak while working in the US – ‘life is too short to deal with d*ckheads’ … whoa, did I just say that aloud?!
Personally – In reference to making it all work (work vs parenting) I can’t actually remember being given any advice here, I’ve just bumbled along. However, being thrown in to chaotic, unexpected circumstances five years ago certainly shed perspective on work vs parenting, as I had to step up in both roles. I have learnt to simply control what I can, be kinder to myself in terms of self-expectation, my daily goal is to two big things per day from my to-do list, then a few smaller ones, if there’s time. I’ve discovered less done well is best … if I manage this I feel really good about myself and that translates to me being a better parent and work colleague.
Shelley’s Petite Edit
How you spend your Sunday mornings?
My blokes loooove being home, so most Sunday mornings that’s where you’ll find us. I lay around with a cuppa reading, they hang out with their technology or the tv, we eventually wander down the street and grab ‘supplies’ (papers for me, sweet treat for them), come home and eat breakfast. If I’m in supermum mode I’ll whip up some pancakes – thanks to pancake parlour mix – just add milk!!
Best spot for a family getaway?
Only one? Either of our Peninsulas, only an hour down the road and you’ll feel like you’re in another world. I must admit I’m partial to the Mornington Peninsula these days, but spent years on the Barwon River.
What is your go-to resource?
Merri Creek or Quarries Park, both 5 minutes walk away. If the boys are getting feral, that’s where I ‘run them’ – HA! That and Vodka.
What is your favourite childrens fashion range?
My two would wear undies on their heads and nothing else if I left it to them – they do not care, so I no longer look for cool labels. Rock your Baby was a fave back in the day.
Give a shout out to another inspiring business ran by parents?
Kylie Lewis and Belinda Langler – Of Kin, teaching us how to build our social media muscle. They seem to juggle young children and their business with honesty and transparency. And my old kinder mum mate Peta Cleary – she’s just taken over the Moppit & Co. store in Queens Pde, North Fitzroy. I have no doubt she’ll blitz it there.
The Galerie will soon announce some wonderful new events, we are particularly excited about the family/child friendly morning teas aimed at introducing art to parents and children alike. To express your interest to learn more about these up-and coming workshops please email Michelle firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit The Galerie :Level 1, 274 Brunswick Street Fitzroy
View the online kids edit here
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