The Old Launceston Armory reopened last week as the city's newest factory, run by Tasmania-based sustainable fashion brand The Spotted Quoll.
Bucking a global downturn in retail over the last 18 months, the brand's online sales have boomed during the pandemic, as buyers look closer to home for their fashion fix. As a result, the company's staff has doubled, necessitating its first official factory.
Ethical sourcing, hand-made quality and bold colours string through the brand's range of jewellery, clothing and homewares, which often feature native Australian flora and fauna. According to brand owner Tamika Bannister, it's been a busy year.
"[Sales] just grew and grew and grew. We had people manufacturing in their houses for us but it just got too big and we had to open a factory," she said.
Then, when Glebe Gardens owner Joe Pintarich heard about Ms Bannister's location, he offered to lease her the Old Armory, six isolated buildings originally built in the 1850s down by the city's river flats.
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"Joe has been gracious enough to work with us on the building. It's quite an unusual space," Ms Bannister said.
With the location secured, there was still a lot of work to be done before the old gun sheds were fit for purpose.
"None of the buildings had windows and doors and the turbo chooks were nesting in them," she said.
Six months later, two of the ordinance buildings were transformed into a sewing room and cutting room, spearheaded by production manager Sally Lowe.
Beginning online in 2010, Spotted Quoll opened its first brick-and-mortar store in Hobart in 217.
Between the Hobart location, the website and the new factory, Spotted Quoll now employs about 15 people.
Looking forward, Ms Bannister hopes to open more stores in the coming year, including one in Launceston to pair with the city's newest factory.
"We'll have more locations by next year - all feeding from this factory," Ms Bannister said.
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