PROFILE: LINDA GREGORIOU
A PERSONAL JOURNEY EXPLORING HER FAMILY’S HERITAGE LED THIS RETAIL QUEEN ON A MISSION TO SAVE AUSTRALIA’S HISTORIC PROPERTIES.
Exploring her family’s heritage led this retail queen on a mission to save Australia’s historic properties
Like many Australians, Linda Gregoriou has a diverse background: her father is Greek-Cypriot and her Celtic-Anglo mother hails from an old pastoral family in Western Australia. In 2015, she decided to explore her maternal family’s heritage. While on an architectural tour of the National Trust and Estate listed buildings from her family’s past, Gregoriou found that some had fallen into disrepair. This discovery led her to call Tom Perrigo, the CEO of National Trusts of Australia. As a result of that conversation, Gregoriou has become the driving force behind a joint retail venture launched in March called The Store. “We chose the name because each National Trust property generally had a store where dry goods were kept,” she says. Gregoriou is certainly no stranger to retail. In 2010, she opened the concept store Pure and General, which had a cult following. She is also involved in the television and property industries. Her project with the National Trust is one of her most ambitious yet, with the aim of opening retail spaces in historic properties nationwide. Old Government House in Sydney’s Parramatta was the first of six to launch earlier this year. “We will just keep opening them because the National Trust has about 330 properties around the country,” says Gregoriou, who has tailored products to suit each location. “Old Government House has a very domestic focus so there are a lot of laundry and kitchen products. The Store in Evandale’s main street [in Tasmania] has more of a cold-climate focus.” From July, there will also be an online presence. While each will be unique, as a whole the new retail stores are set to challenge people’s perception of a gift shop. “We are focusing on the local community and not just on tourism,” Gregoriou says, “so we are getting rid of all the tea towels, mugs and key rings that have existed for decades and producing a line of about 50 products.” Artisanal goods have been sourced and commissioned from around Australia and internationally. At Old Government House, creations by textile artist Chris Land sit alongside ceramic works by Alison Fraser and chic doorstops made using 19th- century ticking. Gregoriou is most excited about the wrapping paper illustrated by Cornwall-based Ryn Frank depicting 21 of the properties. “Ryn’s drawings are part of the rebranding and that’s one of the highlights for me,” she says. Sales will go towards maintaining properties, raising awareness of the National Trust and promoting membership. “You are not only buying a beautiful product,” says Gregoriou, “you are helping maintain Australia’s built and natural heritage.”
clockwise from left: pompoms by Jo Neville of Paper Couture decorate The Store at Sydney’s Old Government House. Linda Gregoriou is behind the new retail venture. A selection of commissioned ceramics by Alison Fraser (right and below).