By Mandy Oakham Pictures: Louisa Jones

Imagine a shop where everything in store has a feel-good backstory; where every purchase of every beautiful item gives back to the world. Voice on Pako discovered just such a store when it met Sharon Phillips at The Shop To Know.

What’s the story behind this very different shop?

Well my business partner, Charle Lancaster, and I worked together as IT management consultants but we were both avid gift givers, always on the hunt for the best possible presents to give loved ones, so when we both decided to branch out from our careers the idea of a shop came up. What we wanted to offer people was not just a place to buy beautiful gifts, but also we wanted to provide something that gave back to the greater good as well.

Explain the concept of “knowingly consuming”, the philosophy behind your shop.

By knowingly consuming you’re making informed purchasing decisions. Here at The Shop to Know, you know the items you are purchasing are representative of the values that we share. You can know who and what your money is ultimately supporting, whether that is fair trade, sustainability, domestic production, innovation, the preservation of crafts or philanthropic causes.
The Shop To Know is building an on-line community of humanitarians, sustainable producers, talented artists, creative innovators, independent producers and Aussie makers to bring high quality and unique gift and homewares to consumers who want to make informed purchasing decisions.

What those values?

Australian made, crowd-funded, fair trade, hand-crafted, innovative, philanthropy, sustainable living.
For us to stock a product it has to fit one or more of those values and it must have a story behind it. All products stocked by The Shop To Know demonstrate at least one of the core seven values we support.
So whether buying for yourself or someone else you can reflect your values or give a gift that reflects the values of the recipient, or both.

So how do you go about sourcing your stock?

Obviously if something is trademarked Australian Made or Fair Trade then it is pretty clear what we are getting but we are still avid hunters so we spend a lot of time looking over trade fairs and local markets and talking to people about the stories behind their creations. And we are always happy to hear from local designers/producers so people should free to come into the shop and tell us about what they are making.

Can you give some examples of the type of things a shopper would see in your shop that they might not see elsewhere?

One example would be our range of Roma gumboots that are made of eco-friendly, sustainable materials but also for each pair we sell, another pair is donated to somewhere in the world where they are most needed. We are stocking re-usable coffee cups that are made from bamboo dust. And then we have something really special in our Story Bomb cufflinks which have been made from Vietnam War bombs, plane parts, and other aluminium scrap left in Laos, collected and handcrafted by local communities. They truly are something completely different.

How did you end up in Pako Street?

My business partner, Charle, is a mum with three kids living in Geelong West and she obviously loves shopping in Pakington Street and when an opportunity came up we decided to branch out from our online presence to have a retail outlet as well and it has been terrific. We are really feeling the love from the local community and just love the general vibe of Pako.

Do you have a favourite in the shop?

It’s so hard to choose any one thing but I guess I have a soft spot for anything handcrafted, anything truly handmade is pretty hard to resist for example we have in store some handmade wax crayons in the shape of animals like dinosaurs.

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