Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Sancho's Dirty Laundry

One of the biggest supporters of Canberra's street artists and independent labels is a little store called Sancho's Dirty Laundry. The ridiculously cool lady who's been doing the hard hustle for years to make her dream become a reality is Sancho. We had a chat to Sanch about the store and her experience, before it leaves it's current location of Lonsdale St Traders this Sunday, the 4th of April 2014.

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and what you do?
I studied at ANU art school, and just did my basic bachelor’s degree through there; it was actually in the photo media department. I originally wanted to go into the, kind of, drawing and painting, but my Dad was like ‘no, artists can never make a living!’, so he made me do something a bit more commercial. But since then, I kind of graduated, jumped from job to job; at one point was working at a commercial screen printers, I worked at the Mint, in product development. But, I just found that it was really soul destroying in the public service. Like, I had friends who were doing creative things, whether it be tattoo apprenticeships, skaters who got into the art side of things, graffers, and I thought it’d be cool to open up a shop which supports that kind of thing. Also I was doing my own t-shirt label on the side and I just found it so hard to get stocked in retail outlets, unless you were a big established brand. So I used my shop as a testing ground for all those things, and so far it’s going good.

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
How did the shop get started?
After I left the public service I was pretty much just doing pop-up shops and markets, but I found that it was pretty hit and miss. And also, it’s a different kind of target market I’m going for. So then, just when I was about to go back to the Mint, I was struggling paying my bills, doing the freelancing, a friend pointed me to this competition the Lonsdale St Traders were doing. Pretty much you just had to post your creative business idea onto their page and the one that got the most likes won a week rent-free pop-up. So that was really cool!  And it was nice to see how many people supported the idea, it kind of gave me this warm fuzzy feeling. Cause, you know, if they’re willing to help the pop-up, imagine the support from the Canberra community you’d get for an actual shop! We lucked out in the end, that the shop across was moving out at the end of that week, so I just enquired about that space and pretty much just took a chance; and put all my savings into it! I was a bit freaked out the first few weeks; you’ve really got to focus on the marketing side of things and get your name out and about. But in Canberra, with anything, momentum picks up, through the community support network. So it’s been good!

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
Why Canberra?
Why Canberra? Um, why am I sticking around here? I’m a creature of habit and familiarity, and I don’t know, I guess. I mean, I was born in Sydney, but spent most of my formative years in Canberra, from Kindergarten upwards. And, Canberra’s pretty unique in that, it’s a cool thing because everyone knows everyone. But that can also be a bad thing, because, everyone knows everyone! But, I tend to focus on the positive side of it, and as well, there’s a lot going on. I think that you kind of have to look for it, like in places like Sydney and Melbourne that’re so dense there’s so much more going on that you can see from the surface point of view, whereas Canberra’s like a fraction of the size. Our biggest pull is universities and public service jobs, so that’s all that people see Canberra as being, but actually there’s a lot going on.

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
I know you know a lot of artists, but who are some of your favourites?
Um, one of my favourites is… I don’t know, it’s hard ‘cause it’s kind of like when you’re a parent and you don’t want to give a favourite child! But I think the one who’s won my affection the most so far, and one of the hardest working artists is Houl. He originally came from Sydney, and it’s cool to see his presence grow in Canberra. I just think it’s from the sheer volume of works he puts up, but also the quality of it. Like, each one just gets better and better. And there’s no ego with that guy, he’s like the funniest, nicest dude ever.
Then I’d say another artist would be Voir and that’s just because the quality of his work, like he’s just amazing. He’s got like four different styles he jumps from. I think he’s done really well to kind of, teeter that line between graff and street art, and it’s really interesting to watch. And he’s been doing it since he was, I think, 14 years old or something.

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
Any advice for up and coming street artists?
Ah, I don’t know, I’m not that full of wisdom; I think that I lucked out towards the end, but I’d say perseverance, probably. Because if I stopped doing it before that opportunity at the Traders popped up, if I just gave up on doing markets stalls and trying to do the hustle, I probably never would have gotten on to it. People wouldn’t have referred me to that competition knowing that’s what I wanted to do. So perseverance and a lot of hard work hey?
Entrepreneurs always make things look easy, you know when you read those success story magazines, they make it look like the graph is always ‘onwards and upwards’, but it’s not like that. It’s kind of like ‘you go up, then you probably drop three times as much as you went up, then it goes sideways a bit, and you’ll probably backtrack’, that’s what’s it’s more like. It’s just about hard work and dedication. And, I guess you’ve got to be talented too.

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
So what’s next for you and the Dirty Laundry?
So we’re closing down on Sunday, the 4th of May, that’ll be our last day. But that was a decision, because I’ve got a few other projects in the works; think pop-up shops, pop-up galleries, some more kind of street art, graff based events. So that’ll happen the next few months, type thing. But we’re gonna open up the new location! In like, two or three months, just depending on how things go. We’ll become more of a graff shop, a bit of a gallery, more indie tee labels, and independent skate labels.

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
So while we’re patiently waiting for the Laundry’s reopen who else in Canberra is supporting the local street art scene?
There’s quite a few actually; there’s La De Da Bar of course, I’d say they’re probably one of the first, more active, kind of, cultural, bar type, hubs that do it. With regular painty events and what not. There’s Art Market, that happens, I think, once every 4 or 5 months and that’s really sweet because it promotes the commercialisation. People are always dissing making money from your craft as selling out, but it’s cool to have places like this that perpetuate it, saying ‘hey, you can do creative stuff and you can make a living from it, through this event, be a part of it!’. Honkytonks, they do that Wednesdays at the Wall thing, that’s quite good. BeachBurrito as well, they’ve recently jumped on a few creative events through sponsorship and what not.
There could be more that the galleries do for street, graff, and for the lack of a better word, ‘low-brow art’. Galleries tend to be more geared towards the art side of things and often you require a tertiary education to even have your proposal considered. And, I think it’s cool to have these alternative fringe places supporting others, because there are talented people out there who didn’t go to university.

Sanchos Dirty Laundry
What are your ultimate goals?
I guess, to enjoy my work through helping people. But it’s kind of already like that through this small space. I’ve met so many creative people, and being able to do that for a living, and being sustainable. Like at the moment it’s still in that start-up phase, so I still have to hustle a lot. And, I guess It’d be cool to be taken more seriously in the arts world, through my shop and the people that I support

Sanchos Dirty Laundry

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