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