BRIGHT SPARK

PIP BRETT HAS OPENED OR­ANGE’S NEW STORE, THE SONIC, FOL­LOW­ING THE FOOT­STEPS OF HER RE­TAIL-SAVVY MUM, ARTIST KEZZ BRETT.

Country Style - - ENTERPRISE ORANGE NSW - WORDS SO­PHIE HANSEN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BRIGID ARNOTT

SOME PEO­PLE HAVE AN INNATE GIFT for un­der­stand­ing what peo­ple want. Pip Brett is one of them. This re­tail whizz seems to know just what peo­ple are look­ing for and brings it all to­gether in her joy­fully eclec­tic new con­cept store, The Sonic, based in the for­mer Ma­sonic hall in Or­ange, cen­tral NSW. The Sonic en­com­passes Pip’s fashion and home­wares busi­nesses, Iglou and Jum­bled, along with a cof­fee shop — all un­der one roof — of­fer­ing a wel­come es­cape from the push and pull of daily life. Walk into the store and in­stantly your mood im­proves. Maybe it’s just the won­drous scale of the place, or the white walls hung with bright, beau­ti­ful art, the fo­liage strung from high beams, or the chairs piled with vel­vet cush­ions and tas­seled throws. “Peo­ple just love to love colour,” says Pip, “they come to us for in­spi­ra­tion and to sur­round them­selves with things that lift them up.” Ex­plore the space fur­ther and you’ll find a corner full of books, care­fully cu­rated cloth­ing brands and lux­u­ri­ous change rooms with dusty pink cur­tains. The in­store café, Nim­rod’s, pro­vides ex­cel­lent cof­fee and snacks. In ad­di­tion to this role as pur­veyor of beau­ti­ful things and spreader of good cheer, Pip is also a mother of two boys, five-year-old Digby, and Barn­aby, three. She lives with her car­pen­ter hus­band, Nick Luelf, and their sons just a cou­ple of blocks from The Sonic in a weath­er­board cot­tage.

Pip’s pen­chant for re­tail can be traced di­rectly to her mother, Kezz Brett, who ran a fashion bou­tique in Or­ange for many years. Now re­tired from that pro­fes­sion, Kezz has since es­tab­lished her­self as an artist and her pop­u­lar works usu­ally sell within min­utes of Pip hang­ing them in store and post­ing pho­tos on In­sta­gram. “Women used to travel for hours to visit Mum’s shop,” Pip says. “I saw how happy she could make them by find­ing pieces that made them look great and feel con­fi­dent. I saw the power of that and wanted in.” And so, af­ter study­ing de­sign and tex­tiles at Syd­ney’s Uni­ver­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, Pip re­turned to the Cen­tral West and opened fashion store Iglou in 2006, fol­lowed by home­wares store Jum­bled in 2011. While it all sounds like smooth sail­ing, es­tab­lish­ing her­self as a coun­try re­tail brand took time and there were set­backs. “Many la­bels just wouldn’t sup­ply me at first,” she says, “be­cause they didn’t get what I was try­ing to do. Now it’s so much eas­ier for them to see what we are all about here thanks to so­cial me­dia plat­forms such as In­sta­gram.” And while her two busi­nesses did steadily grow in rep­u­ta­tion as well as on­line pres­ence — Iglou has nearly 10,000 In­sta­gram fol­low­ers, while Jum­bled has close to 60,000 — the idea of a con­cept store bring­ing them both to­gether was al­ways per­co­lat­ing in the back­ground. “I’ve al­ways loved how stores like Co­lette and Merci in Paris, Lib­erty in Lon­don and An­thro­polo­gie in the States of­fer a com­plete life­style to their cus­tomers, and I wanted to do some­thing sim­i­lar back home.” Pip be­gan to re­alise this dream in 2015 when she and Nick dis­cov­ered that Or­ange’s 150-year-old Ma­sonic hall was up for sale. “We rang the agent, then rang our ac­coun­tant who said that it wasn’t the stu­pid­est idea he’d ever heard. Soon enough, and al­most un­be­liev­ably, we had the keys.” Nick took nine weeks off his con­struc­tion job to turn the old build­ing, which was be­ing used as a uni­form shop, into The Sonic, work­ing with Mel­bourne-based team Stu­dio Esteta on the re­design. “Those weeks were in­cred­i­bly hard — we had the two boys, two busi­nesses and so many other balls to jug­gle. But it was also a hugely re­ward­ing time. I loved col­lab­o­rat­ing with Nick on the build, the boys hung out with us as we worked and we had the help of our amaz­ing friends and fam­ily who we kept happy with gin and ton­ics and bags of chips!” And while that mo­ment in time wasn’t a shin­ing ex­am­ple of work/life bal­ance, Pip gen­er­ally seems to have that sussed, too. “You can have it all,” she says, “but you can’t do it on your own. You need to sur­round your­self with great peo­ple. And make lists. Lots of lists.”

COME TO US FOR IN­SPI­RA­TION “PEO­PLE LOVE TO LOVE COLOUR AND THEY THAT LIFT THEM UP.” AND TO SUR­ROUND THEM­SELVES WITH THINGS

The Sonic store is housed in Or­ange’s for­mer Ma­sonic hall.

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