Sam Burchett from Cocoon
Recently Amy and Diana caught up with Sam Burchett from Cocoon. Cocoon Store and Studio is a place where local designers, artists and artisans are working together alongside the Hospice Op-shop to create a unique shopping experience. Vintage treasures, handcrafted homewares, up-cycled fashion and designer donations are on offer. Their stated mission is to raise money and awareness for the local community hospice through fashion, art and design.
Lincolns have had a long history with Albany Community Hospice since its establishment in 1990. Many Lincolns employees have been or are actively involved on the Board of Management over the years. Hospice is a not for profit organisation that is licensed as a private hospital to deliver inpatient palliative care.
How did Cocoon begin?
Being someone who is in the industry of recycled design, I am in Op Shops a lot. Having a friend who passed away at Hospice a few years ago I came up with the idea. When my friend passed away I had a couple of thoughts of doing something for him and the Hospice, involving art and design. At the time I hadn’t actually pieced together that Butterflies (the Op Shop on Middleton Loop) was for the Hospice, even though there are butterflies everywhere at Hospice!
A lot of people think that design is making things look nice whereas I see it as Form Follows Function, so I just saw how op shops in general could function a lot better. I wanted to work with a local organisation, this ruled out everybody other than Butterflies which tied in with my friend who passed away.
I went to the Hospice Board and offered my design services, but it was focussed on the existing business Butterflies. I love doing window displays and interior design and I could see how this would help Butterflies. My concept was to add value to the garments which were already there; adding value by knowing the brands and fixing, repairing, upcycling the donations. Charities spend $3 million each year Australia wide disposing of their rubbish so there was a need to create an environment where people think about what they are gifting. Flip the mentality so that people are happy to give and open to gifting to the Op Shop knowing how it will be treated.
Over the last few months there has been a massive push to rid yourself of clutter with the Marie Kondo Challenge. Op Shops throughout Albany (and no doubt the world) are being inundated with clutter, (including a bit of rubbish).
Introducing Butterfly Baskets
Unlike other Op Shops, Butterflies does not have donation bins all over town. Instead of relying on people’s faceless dumping of clutter, we introduced Butterfly Baskets. Placing them in businesses, whether it be an office or a gym, so you become responsible for what you place in the baskets. People will see what you donate and it makes you accountable.
My idea did spark joy with the Hospice Board although they did not want to change Butterflies as it was already a profitable and well-run business. Shortly after, a space became available next door to Butterflies which provided the perfect opportunity for the Hospice to test out the new Op Shop/Upcycle notion.
Cocoon was formed
Cocoon being a nurturing space for young to grow and change. It does have some relevance to Butterflies although scientifically not quite correct.
In three weeks, we were able to build a cool and funky space using mostly recycled cardboard rolls (destined for the tip) and stock it. We are very thankful the Albany community have embraced Cocoon since we opened the doors on 1 December 2018.
Cocoon is run like any modern business is; card preferred and paperless, receipts are emailed to customers. We also have an online store through Etsy and eBay. In running the business, we collect as much data as we can, when do people shop, how much do they spend. This gives us the edge with marketing.
By establishing the new business, we are able to bridge the gap between the Op Shop receiving donations and the artisans and designers needing materials to work with. Cocoon now has nine upcyclers who sell their creations in store on consignment but also volunteer their time in the store or run the odd market in town. It is a great place for new upcoming designers to see how their products sell and gain some retail experience. We are lucky our upcyclers have substantial followings on Instagram which has helped with our own following and marketing.
In the future we would like to see Cocoon form mentoring relationships with design students from high school and TAFE. We hope this will give the students, further insight into the design industry also helping us to stay connected with the younger generation. It is interesting to see the new generation coming through, they don’t want brands, or necessarily new, they want texture, colour.
Is there much cross over between Butterflies & Cocoon?
There is some crossover between Butterflies & Cocoon. Some of the volunteers are interested in the merchandising and want to learn the computerised system. The volunteers from Butterflies are always keeping their eyes open for things that we might like in Cocoon or the upcyclers might like. We are helping to revamp Butterflies with painting the exterior and maybe some interior design in the near future.
Cocoon has also become an inviting space for friends of Hospice to come and connect with other people. People who have lost loved ones are able to donate their belongings when they feel the time is right knowing someone is truly going to love the items and the proceeds are going back to Hospice. It really is a special place.
What’s in store for the future?
As long as the business is sustainable it will grow when it is ready. It is functioning well at the moment although as it continues to grow it may need a warehouse space to allow for online sales.
It would be fantastic to see the business model replicated in other towns. This for me would cement the success of the business.
334 Middleton Rd, Albany WA 6330
Hours 10am to 5pm weekdays and 10am to 1pm on Saturday
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