An interview with Llara Goodall, about her boutique Mandrake and Willow in Melbourne’s inner west…
How long has Mandrake and Willow been open, and why did you choose Yarraville?
We opened Mandrake and Willow in September of 2009. I’ve lived in Melbourne’s inner city suburbs since I was a teen, but had only recently heard of Yarraville when my brother moved there.
One of the first things I noticed about Yarraville was the community atmosphere. I love being part of a little village with such great support from the locals. You won’t find the proliferation of chain stores you would in most areas, there are a really diverse and eclectic mix of small stores and cafes. Not to mention it is so close to the city and easy to get to on public transport.
Tell us about your motivations in setting up Mandrake and Willow.
I think the initial idea came just from noticing the shop for lease on a visit to my brother. I had really come to love the area and myself, my sister Kyli and another friend of ours (who has since left the business) had faced the same challenge as a lot of people in finding socially and environmentally responsible products. We really wanted to provide a haven where every item in the store would reflect these values. We decided the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Was your background in retail, or something else?
I have worked as a sales assistant in various shops over the years – in fact almost ten years now. I have also worked in costume and fashion, so Mandrake and Willow kind of brings the two together.
What’s inspiring your direction for 2012?
As well as being retailers we are, of course also consumers. So, we look to our own likes/needs to envisage the types of products we stock. We continue to look at sourcing products which – as well as meeting our criteria on ethics- are unique in their creativity and design. Pieces that transcend “trends” and will be cherished for years to come!
Who are your favourite designers/products in store?
The amazing thing about having our own store is that we get to choose only things we really love! It’s great that we can support local artists and craftspeople, and one of my favourites we have in store is Cat Rabbit. Her plush toys are amazing, I find it difficult not to take them all home for myself!
Also, I don’t know why but I’ve personally always had a little obsession with shoes and hosiery. We are lucky to stock some great Melbourne-made tights and socks from the likes of Tightology and Ok Ok – and with Melissa Shoes in store, let’s just say my shoe collection has grown somewhat.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s encouraging that there are so many people interested in making positive changes to support the planet and the people who live on it. It’s true there are still challenges to face but with so much enthusiasm and growing awareness of the importance of the ethical and sustainable production of goods, we are genuinely excited about the future!
Mandrake and Willow - 66 Anderson Street, Yarraville VIC 3013