Colour Your World at Mount Vic & Me

Kara-card_EDIT.jpeg

By Julie Miller

Walking into Mount Vic and Me - a gift shop and studio occupying an historic Victorian building at the top of Mount Victoria - is like entering a kaleidoscopic Willy Wonka world of colourful kitsch, exotic animals and political mayhem.

From its racks of vintage wear, to its signature tea towels, and shoes and bags emblazoned with bold, exotic designs, it’s an explosion of colour where you are bound to find a quirky, unique souvenir of your Blue Mountains visit.

For owner Kara Cooper, the retail shop represents her passion for collecting, and sharing her eclectic taste with the world.

“When people walk in, they are often overwhelmed – it’s not minimalist, it’s crazy! If I did streamline the collection, I wouldn’t be able to help myself - I’d put things back in because I love stuff,” she says.

MVAM-shop-interior.jpg

Starting life as a boutique design business with just five greeting cards 10 years ago, Mount Vic and Me is now one of the Blue Mountain’s most popular gift shops; Kara also has 180 other stockists around the country, and ships out orders daily via her online store,. She also has a significant presence on US website Spoonflower, with more than 4000 designs for wallpaper, fabrics and homewares.

“I design something new every day, it keeps my brain going,” Kara says. “The beauty of being able to showcase the designs as fabric and wallpaper means I don’t have to put it all into my collection for Mount Vic and Me.

“I can explore designs and ideas I want to have a go at but might not align that well with the retail shop. So to me, I do it as a bit of an outlet – every day I come up with something new, keep it fresh, and then dive back in.”

Perhaps the most iconic items in Mount Vic and Me are the political tea towels, featuring Australian politicians and their famous quotes. What started “out of frustration, to express myself” has been embraced, not just by fun-loving customers with a sense of the ironic, but by the pollies themselves, who love to be photographed holding their own mugs (or even their political nemeses!)

The Blue Mountains has also been a huge inspiration for Kara’s designs, with iconic images adorning size-inclusive PET tights, tea towels and even upcycled lampshades and old ‘50s-style chairs. 

“I take a lot from the Blue Mountains – things like the retro neon signs is hugely popular, and I’ve drawn the Blackheath Rocket as tea towels and greeting cards, they are really popular. The Blue Mountains inspires me because it’s absolute nostalgia here – it doesn’t change. I drive up the hill and I feel like I’m home, and it’s been the same way for 50 years.”

Waratah_fabric.jpg

Sustainability is also at the heart of the business: the tea towels and socks are all Australian-made with one manufacturer holding the Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation, while t-shirts, bags, shoes and leggings are all “drop-shipped” (sold online and made to order), saving warehousing space and generating less waste.

Kara has also started working with the Bathurst CWA under a federal government grant, with the country women volunteering their sewing skills to earn funds for charitable causes. One of these projects is the Seven Valleys Tourism tea towel where Kara drew 20+ local icons and worked with Jess Leffley, a local Wiradjuri woman who also drew some of the icons.

Kara has also recently collaborated with Peter Alexander, adapting one of her poodle designs for his popular sleepwear; while an exciting upcoming project is working with the Victoria and Albert Guesthouse in Mount Victoria, custom designing wallpaper for one of their newly renovated rooms.

And for customers who lament that Mount Vic and Me is only open two days a week (Thursday and Saturday from 10am to 3pm), Kara now has a display cabinet at the Victory Theatre Antique Centre in Blackheath, selling political tea towels, mugs and socks and vintage political books.

“It’s perfect – they are open 364 days a year, so if we’re closed, just pop up the road and grab some tea towels there!”

You can find Mount Vic and Me at 115a Great Western Highway, Mount Victoria. If you can’t get to Mount Vic and Me, be sure to check it out online www.mountvicandme.com. For Kara’s extensive collection of designs for fabrics and wallpaper, visit www.spoonflower.com/profiles/mountvicandme

Peacock_jade_fabric.jpg

Pop-up for Wildlife
Romance rediscovered in Australia's honeymoon capi...

Comments

 
No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Recent Articles

SUBSCRIBE

Receive Blue Mountains deals, travel inspiration, upcoming events and more...

#visitbluemountains