I am… My name is Morgan Wills and I am a textile artist and designer who LOVES collecting.
My bricks & mortar shop sells… I have spent the last 20 years collecting so The Crafty Squirrel is a culmination of that collecting history and quite eclectic! A wonderful mix of old and new sit side by side - unique gifts, cool craft kits, homewares, vintage fabrics, gorgeous haberdashery and also all of my work created under my eponymous label – Morgan Wills www.morganwills.com.au. I also have lots of cute Japanese and Korean stationery, French sewing notions, American embroidery kits and lots and lots of vintage aprons and souvenir tea towels.
My online shop sells…just a snippet of what I actually have in store at any given time! I will try to add new things as they come in but sometimes they sell out before I even get a chance to load them up!
The must-have piece is… a tricky one – because some people are looking for vintage treasures, others for gifts and some looking to buy my work. If it’s vintage you’re after, I have a pretty fine collection of beautiful carded buttons and linen souvenir tea towels. If it’s a gift you want, then I have some wonderful work from local designer friends. From my range, my favourite must-have piece is the Cast Offs Rainbow throw.
I started The Crafty Squirrel because… I have always thought it would be pretty fun to have my own store (and let’s face it I had to do something with my collected treasures!).
The only way I could do it was if I combined the shop with my studio and after finding the perfect place to do that in central Ballarat – we made the tree change from Melbourne and got down to business! I officially opened the shop on 1 July 2011.
My biggest challenge starting the store was… Finding a space where I could have a shop front, office and studio all at the same premise. It took a few years to find it and a massive move to the country to make it happen. Also sourcing enough stock to make the shop really full and interesting took quite a while.
I chose this space because… as soon as I saw it I knew that it would work perfectly for what I wanted to do. It has very defined areas of space that mean, I can easily move between them as I manage various aspects of my business. The best part is when I am working in the shop – I can also work on the creation of various products that I sell under my wholesale label Morgan Wills or make special small batches of things made exclusively to sell in the shop.
The shopfront can be described as… cute and quirky with a unique vintage edge. My work is always very bright and colourful and I have been drawn to a similar palette when stocking the store. Keeping the walls and furniture predominately white has worked really well as my products stand out. I have also installed a beautiful red linoleum floor, multi-coloured glass louvers in the top of the windows, a variety of vintage wallpapers on the furniture and have picked up the green from my logo for the front door.
My favourite piece of feedback was… I have had quite a few customers come in to the store and just take a breath of delight. Some spend ages going around and discovering all the things I have collected and telling me stories of how they remember their Mothers or Grandmothers having these things and others say that they have come because someone else has told them about the shop and that they had to come. Funnily enough – it seems to be the type of shop that customers spend a while in and invariably we end up having a chat about what they like to make craft wise or what they collect. I have met so many lovely local people who seem really excited to have a shop like this in their neighbourhood as well as many people who’ve driven up from Melbourne just for the day.
People should visit because… the shop is a lot of fun and full of unexpected treasures. My husband says that he wishes he knew of a shop like mine that I didn’t know about so that he had a secret place to go and buy me gifts! Having said that I have had a few wives bring their husbands in to the shop and say – “If you ever want/need to buy me a gift…this is where you should come”!
The Crafty Squirrel is… A celebration of craft and good design as it was then and as it is now.
You can find us at… Corner Errard & Urquhart Street, Ballarat Central, Victoria, Australia
Visit us… Thursdays & Fridays 10am to 5pm & Saturdays 10am to 4pm.