people retail spaces

Five minutes with Kim Stark of Northcote’s The Botanical Store

When I saw the most glorious pastel-coloured space pop up in my Instagram feed, and just down the road from me, I had to know more! And boy, is Northcote, Melbourne, a lucky ‘hood!

Opening the doors just last month is The Botanical Store – a concept created by Kim Stark (also of Wheatbags Love) and Hannah Dupree from Storm in a Teacup.

The entrepreneurial ladies designed and fitted out the dreamy space themselves based on a very clear vision, despite being told it wasn’t possible. They only called on a shop fitter, By Salim Nemer, to build the tables and cabinets.

The result is a unique destination store thoughtfully filled with pure plant-based skincare and specialty teas, where you are not only allowed, but encouraged, to play with the products.

Walk in, and the team will guide you through the ‘blending stations’, where you’ll start by choosing your favourite jar or bottle, followed by organic creams and, lastly, your most-loved essential oils. The idea is to let your nose and intuition guide the way, then voila – you have the perfect blend for you!

I spoke with Kim to find out more…

How did The Botanical Store come about?

The idea to have a store where you can mix and blend your own skincare came to me about two years ago and I’ve been working on it slowly since then, mostly just working out how it would all work in my mind and waiting for the right time to put everything into action.

Then in July I decided I was finally in a place where I could make it happen and I had planned to do a little pop up shop in a studio space I was running (also in Northcote). Everything was flowing nicely and falling into place and then I noticed the shop for lease across the road…

Within two weeks I’d taken on the lease and opened a full time shop! It’s just been a beautiful progression of everything arriving just as I need it.

Tell us who is involved in the business?

The customised skincare side of The Botanical Store is the realisation of my idea from two years ago and one of the most wonderful things that came about with taking the lease for the bigger shop was joining forces with Hannah Dupree from Storm in a Teacup.

Together we’ve created a store where you can feed the body from the inside with beautiful (and delicious) specialty teas and feed the outside with nourishing organic skincare.

Working with us is a team of lovely staff who are as passionate about skincare and tea as we are.

What was the inspiration behind the interior?

The colour theme was what I came up with first as that would dictate everything from there. I knew I wanted a millennial pink and mint combo from the beginning with accents of navy blue and darker pink.

I wanted to create a feel that was fresh, friendly but still modern. The pink floor came about due to the space itself. When we moved in it was a dark grey concrete floor but the shop had these beautiful white walls already in place that we felt didn’t need to change.

So to get colour in the space it was a choice of painting the back wall (which was an existing dark blue that we painted mint) and the floor. I just knew the floor had to be pink. I knew it would make a big impact and totally transform the feel of the space. But I now have a love hate relationship with this floor because I love the final result but it took a lot to get there!

A lot of people who I sought advice from said I couldn’t do it or at least not without using diamond drillers to strip the floor back and other crazy things. I was so determined to have a pink floor that I just went ahead and gave it a crack.

[We started] just using a floor sander with the aim to take the buff off the existing paint and then paint over that. I had no idea if it would work so it was an interesting few days.

The large floor sander we hired did a gallant effort but in the end Hannah and I just got in there on hands and knees and used an orbital sander, changing the sanding pad every few minutes. Then 4 coats of paint, 2 coats of sealer and a lot of arm power later we had a beautiful, robust, shining pink floor!

Then because we did have lots of colour in the store with the floor and back walls I wanted to keep everything else neutral to give that light fresh feel. Our display tables are all made from Birch plywood because it has that lovely blond timber look and our display items are a combination of white and birch.

How do you want people to feel in the store?

I wanted people to feel like they were entering a magical, serene wonderland where they get to play and smell and taste amazing things. So far we’ve had the most beautiful comments about the space.

People come in and tell us they feel like they just stepped into another world, that it’s a place where you can take a deep breath, that if feels like somewhere in New York, another said she could imagine it in Berlin and my favourite comments are the ones saying it’s like something out of a Wes Anderson film.

You have only just opened your doors, but what are your big hopes for the store in the future?

We hope we can be a destination store that people love coming into to get an experience you can’t get anywhere else. And everything we sell also happen to be natural, organic products that are good for you.

We’d love to continue to teach people how to look after themselves the natural and simple way, knowing that you don’t need expensive chemical based products to feel good as nature has everything we need to look and feel good!

Is there anything exciting coming up for The Botanical Store?

We’ll be starting up our workshop series soon with the first one being a Chocolate Making workshop on December 5th. We’ll be learning how to make 4 types of chocolate that you can replicate at home for Christmas presents and also going through how to use the same ingredients for DIY facial products! It’ll be a lot of fun. Other workshops we’ll be doing will be how to make your own essential oil blends, tea for beginners and a how to make your own skincare products.

Follow The Botanical Store, 70 High Street, Northcote on Instagram and Facebook and pop in to experience this special concept yourself!

 

 Images courtesy of The Botanical Store with photography by Adam Dunnet of Fox & Bean and Sophie Argiriou

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