Trove: One of Canberra’s Best-Kept Secrets

A trove is defined as a ‘store of valuable or delightful things’. Showcasing 19 handcraft designers from around the ACT region, Canberra’s very own Trove certainly lives up to this definition.

Trove has always been a local shopping hotspot for me. On the second floor of Garema place, it is in my mind, one of Canberra’s best-kept secrets. The products on display range from jewellery, to calendars, to retro-themed cooking attire. In early December of last year, I had the pleasure of attending one of Trove’s regular after-hours events where I was able to browse their treasures with the added sustenance of cheese and crackers. What makes these events particularly special, however, is not the added allure of nibbles, but the presence of so many of the makers. The value of handmade goods lies in the personality, quality and thought that goes into their production – and this was reverently on display on this December night.

When you buy local goods you are not just buying a product; you are engaging with the story that lives behind it. More often than not the journey of the maker is one from sideline hobby to fully-fledged business, and each story brings an extra level of personality and heart to your shopping experience.

Take, for example, Sharon Grant: the founder of ATP Creative Designs – a company that produces a variety of reusable lifestyle products. As I spoke Grant about her business, I discovered that the idea started when she found herself hand-making a reusable calendar out of paint-chips as a creative outlet when a family member fell ill. Fast-forward three years and Sharon has undertaken a diploma in graphic design and expanded her range of organisational tools to include calendars, message boards, and study and semester planners. All of the products are designed by Sharon and feature a whiteboard finish, plus a high-quality liquid-chalk pen. I would highly recommend the message board for any share house as a perfect fit for dividing up household chores.

One of my favourite brands is Mischief Monday – a local business started by a mother-daughter duo which sells retro styled cooking and baking apparel. The idea for the business was born from daughter Vanessa’s love for baking and desire to learn her mother’s seamstress abilities. Now, despite Vanessa’s interstate move to Canberra, their love for quirky new experiments in cooking attire has lead to their success at Trove.

The thing that I love about handmade products is the way in which their makers are not only concerned with the quality of their product, but also with how it affects and reflects the community they are part of. This aspect was apparent in every conversation I had on that December night.

I found particularly that this is reflected in the designs and manufacture of Sovata Millinery Designs. Owner Jade, who studied millinery and fashion design in Canberra, started from the principle that designers have a responsibility to minimise their waste production. Minimising her impact has led Jade to think outside of the box in how she uses material, which is evident in how she has manipulated and artfully curved the leather in her flower headpieces and headbands.

Listening and talking to everyone at this event further instilled my appreciation for local hotspots such as Trove, as they give me the opportunity to really value what I buy. This appreciation is by no means lost on the makers whose products are displayed there. For many who work other jobs either part or full-time, Trove means they are able to showcase their creative outlets without the stress of going at it alone. Most of all, every designer I spoke to stressed that the artistic support provided by the Trove community was irreplaceable. By the end of the night, I was not only overjoyed in stories I’d heard and the quality I’d seen but extremely proud of this city I have come to call home, for supporting local products and handmade goods, and allowing stores like Trove to flourish.

If you haven’t popped into Trove to browse the shelves, I urge you to do so. They are at Shop 13, Level 1 Garema Centre, 70 Bunda Street, Canberra City.

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