via alley

Via Alley in Darlinghurst.

Books on show.

Hakusan pigs.

Journal by Yoshitomo Nara.

So-cute Bambi necklace.

Owner Jane Lo on a must-have Eames rocking chair.

Can't quite remember how I came across Via Alley - but I did, thankfully. It's such a great shop and I love the variety of products, and that it supports small-producing artists and designers. Also, the great thing about it for international readers is that they deliver to the US and other parts of the globe. One half of the brains behind it all is Jane Lo. Here's her take on the shop and where she finds inspiration.

How and why did you start Via Alley? My partner and I are people who are always on the lookout for something different, something inspiring and it frustrated us that in a lot of instances, we’ve had to go overseas or trail a long time behind others to get access. And in October 2004, we stumbled on what's called the tokyo designers block event where we were amazed by the passion and creativity that is out there and how people in Tokyo embraced and experimented with things that are different and new. We wanted to share the same passion with people in Australia and that is how we started Via Alley online before opening the Darlinghurst store in May 2006.
What five words best describe your store? Much more than you expect.
What has been the response? Via Alley started as an online business and it’s a great foundation to have because we have customers from the US, Canada, Europe as well as interstate customers. And it’s been awesome to know that the goods and the artists/designers who produce them are exposed to so many people. The store itself is about 20 months old and so far the response has been better than we expected, and words travel so we’ve been quite fortunate.
What are your biggest sellers? We have a diverse range of goodies so it’s difficult to pinpoint our biggest sellers. I’d say our range of unique t-shirts, simple design homewares, toys and accessories.
Where do you look to for inspiration? Travelling is my main source of inspiration. I find that when i travel my senses are so much more open to new things, to new people, to new influences and new cultures. I always can’t wait to get home and share what I’ve seen and learnt.
What's the best lesson you've learnt so far? People really appreciate the hardwork and passion artists and designers put into their work. And by providing people with context on how things are created this leads to a complete new dimension in how they enjoy sipping tea from a cup, or wear a piece of jewellery to not only match their clothes, but to make a statement. And I think it's a great lesson for us all to dig a little deeper and understand more about the creators.
What are you passionate about? Learning, sourcing and sharing what I’ve learnt and sourced.
If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? This changes for me all the time, but at the moment I’d say
Yoshitomo Nara, he’s one of my all-time favourite artists.
What are you looking forward to? The delivery of our new projects in early 2008. The first being an inhouse published book and secondly setting up a flagship store for a Japanese t-shirt brand in Sydney.
What are you reading?
The Alchemist and Monocle magazine from all good newsagents!

Images courtesy of Via Alley.