TheSuperCool is not your ordinary retail store. Kate and Noonie – wife and husband duo – front an eclectic store of ‘super cool’, well-made products that are driven by story and connection. As TheSuperCool approaches 10 years in business, co-owner (and Local Hero) Kate shared with us how they found their wings at the South Melbourne Market.
Hi Kate! Could you tell us a little about yourself and TheSuperCool?
Hello! I started my career in fashion, doing trend forecasting with fashion companies. My husband, Noonie, worked in engineering and business analysis. “He always had that creative streak but was unable to use it. We’d always talked about starting a business we could do together.”
“After we got married, we stumbled across this idea of setting up a pop-up store that continually moved.” At this time, pop-up shops were just taking off.
“Eventually we came up with the idea of creating interesting lifestyle objects that have a story from around the world.”
“We did that for four or five years, with 32 pop-ups between Melbourne and Sydney.” The couple travelled around, setting up shop everywhere and tweeting our locations as we went. Old retail stores, art galleries, garages, unused walkways – you name it!
But Melbourne was a real standout – embracing them more than anywhere else. This was when TheSuperCool whipped together their first online store.
Their pop-ups led them to the South Melbourne Market. At first, “we were reluctant to commit to a place for longer than a few weeks,” but three months led to six, and now, Kate and Noonie have called the market home for nearly 10 years.
Describe your business and experience at the market
When Kate and Noonie were ready to start a family and leave their nomadic life behind them, she feels they couldn’t have picked a better spot.
TheSuperCool was “really just about finding cool things in unusual spaces and connecting with the maker. We’ve always loved the local artisan approach and unearthing hidden gems.”
Kate and Noonie wanted to provide their customers with better quality, more sustainable products that were still affordable. So, “we tell our brands what our customers are asking for” – and nudge them to up their impact.
“And we love working with our suppliers to help their storytelling. For example, we’ve been working on a video series with our core brands where owners can describe their eco-conscious efforts.”
What do you love most about the market and the area?
“There’s such a community sense within the market. People don’t have that ‘front’ up – they’re very different; very chilled. We are blessed to have such nice customers.
People are there getting their fruit and veggies and will pick something up and have a chat. We see some of our customers three or four days a week!”
Kate says the customers and staff in the market are such a tight-knit community. “We’ve got a super loyal customer base – and customers who go through various life stages alongside us.”
We’re proof that you can start from nothing and grow your business with the market.
What are some of your favourite places in the City of Port Phillip area?
- Kelly’s Massage – we go here all the time and often buy vouchers for our staff
- Lost in Seasons (one of the co-owners of Rollie’s Shoes) – great shoes and clothing with an ethical focus
- Moses and Co – our favourite health food store
- Clement Coffee – our go-to coffee place. They also support our Playtime program pre-schoolers by giving parents discount coffee
- Frank’s Quality Fruit & Veg – these legends provide a complimentary fruit platter for kids at the Playtime program
Outside the market, we also love Madam Heap for yoga and meditation.
Tell us about your pay it forward campaign
"With everything going on with COVID-19, we asked ourselves: how could we spread kindness and support the healthcare people doing it tough? We decided to pay it forward, SuperCool style."
“We decided to partner with Moses and Co to deliver healthcare packs for healthcare workers. People could pay it forward by nominating healthcare heroes in their community.”
It was rewarding to see the heartfelt nominations of the community. Kate believes this kindness and sense of community is the one good thing that’s come out of this.
“Kindness is a lost art, let’s bring it back and make it cool to be kind.”
Next up, TheSuperCool wants to pay it forward to midwives, teachers and then police. They’d love to keep it going each month and take this community-minded focus into the future.
TheSuperCool can’t wait to be back in action in the market. Until then, you can check out their fabulous online store or follow @thesupercool on Instagram.
Their online store is chockers with affordable gifts, including their Mama’s Day gifts and Isolation Boredom Buster range for all ages. TheSuperCool is offering free Australia-wide shipping, with free local drop-offs near the market and Melbourne’s north-side.
For more Local Hero stories, visit the Explore Port Phillip blog page.