When Bonnie Lee Tipper hosts her pop-up shop and exhibition in The Showroom at the Owens Collective this Friday, it’ll be the closest she says she’ll ever come to featuring in a shop front.
That’s because the 28 year-old doesn’t like to be traditional in her approach to selling her wares.
“I’ve been at music festivals, I’ve done markets, I’ve had sales in my backyard which are really popular, and online is my main selling tool,” she said.
“I also do repairs and alterations from my house, but I’ve never had a shopfront, and I don’t really want a shop front,
“This will be an opportunity for me to ‘play shop’ for a week without permanently being there.”
Most people find the creative seamstress and her label Chinchen Street by accident, then continue to come to her directly for work that has been described as “unique”.
“You could call it art,” she said.
“That’s why if people buy something [at the pop-up] they can’t take it straight away because it’s an exhibition and other people deserve to appreciate it as well.”
The Chinchen Street pop-up shop and exhibition will kick off with an opening night on Friday, May 7 and run until Sunday, May 16.
The event will be a culmination of a craft that began 13 years ago when she first found her love of vintage fashion as a teenager in Port Macquarie.
“I think I started buying and selling vintage when I was about 15,” she said.
“In the small country towns it was my thing.
“I’d watch all the old movies and be obsessed with these old iconic fashions.
“I’d go to op shops and find all this stuff that had no relevance in the small towns and I’d feel so lucky I could have these pieces and make things with it and sell it again.
“It was out of place in that town but in a good way.”
Tipper has been honing her skills since then, completing a bachelor in fashion and design and launching her own label.
“Chinchen St is a Newcastle-based handmade and vintage fashion label,” she says.
“At its core, the label is driven by a passion for sustainable, slow fashion practices and inspired by romantic ideals of individualism, imagination and freedom.
“Our range includes limited edition handmade clothes made from recycled materials, as well as an extensive range of handpicked vintage pieces.”
Tipper will work her magic on anything from materials with holes in them, or hand-painted shirts that are quite punk, to vintage wedding gowns with not a mark on them.
“I’ve got a broad range,” she said.
In a style she describes as “Old-world, glamorous, crazy, eclectic and totally unique”, Tipper also boasts a vintage nightwear and lingerie range that is sold all over the world.
“I don’t have one favourite era that I like but I do often say that my style is almost like a mishmash of a 1950s glamorous woman and a 70s man who’s really patchy and grungy,” she said.
“It’s a weird glam-grunge combination – like trash and treasure.”
Her skillset doesn’t stop with clothing either, Tipper also brings new life to furniture.
“Anything that can be reused deserves to be,” she said.
“I want people to come to the pop-up and think ‘hey I could re-use that thing in my house to create something like that’.
“To prompt people to think of new ways to recycle in their own lives would be great.”