When Isy Galey worked out that she had changed close to 25,000 nappies over a 22-year nanny career, she realised it was time for a change.
She changed tack and launched in.cube8r in 2007, a Melbourne-based store that sells handcrafted items made by Australian artists.
It’s a retailer with a twist – the artists keep all of the revenue while Galey takes a rental fee from each to stake out a space within her store. She has since franchised the concept interstate.
She speaks to StartupSmart about how she is riding the handmade wave.
What inspired you to start Incub8er?
I’d been a nanny for 22 years and the nature of childcare is that when the last one goes to school, that’s it; you’re out of a job.
I’d had the idea for in.cube8r for some time, but I was too scared to do anything about it. It was always the wrong time, or I was in the wrong relationship or didn’t have enough money.
Eventually I enrolled with the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme and they helped formulate a business plan for me. Previously, the idea was just pixie fluff but I made it into an actual business. Five years on, I’ve franchised it.
I’d always been into crafty things. I initially did glassblowing, but it costs you $350 for a studio and $150 for an assistant so on, so if you get commissions you are often out of pocket.
I came to Melbourne in 1996 and saw how Myer rented out their space to different brands. I thought I could do the same model but on a much smaller scale and for artists.
How were those first steps?
I pretty much made it all up as I went along. Initially, the idea was to have a space full just of glass cubicles where people could sell their things.
But then much larger pieces came in, along with photographers and dressmakers, so I realised that I needed a much larger space. There are now 4,500 different products by 92 different artists representing all aspects of handmade.
I had the business plan that NEIS helped me with, so I went out to do some market research as to whether this concept was something people wanted.
I went to university lectures and asked if the students would be interested in the idea. About 99.9% said yes. As soon as all those hands went up, I knew that there was a niche market I could set up in.
It’s all about taking the pain away from the people you deal with. From a young artist’s point of view, they don’t have to trawl around all the markets to sell their products; it’s all in one place. We now have a waiting list for the artists.