My name is Melissa. I am a collector and purveyor of fine things made with good intent, a sometimes maker at ‘Sunshine Symbol’ and a sometimes musician at ‘Serene dreams’.
What is Before March?
It is a careful curation of treasures for home and body. The intention with this space is to reinvigorate the emotional connection we each have with the very things we clothe and adorn our bodies and spaces with.
From word to scent to sound, my aim is to provide a full sensory experience that leaves people with a feeling of delight and an appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry.
Before March, Northcote VIC 3070
How did you start Before March and can you please share your favourite part of having your beautiful Northcote store?
I initially started Before March 4 years ago with two close friends who have each ventured further down their own paths. I am grateful that the foundation of the business was built on friendship and partnership and it was invaluable to learn the art of balancing business and friendship, I’m still very close to both of them.
I have run the store on my own for a little while now and by contrast it’s been rewarding to focus on its direction and really hone in on the store’s look and voice with clarity. My family have always run their own businesses and I discovered that it had it's effect on me and my desire to be my own boss.
My heart has become quite loyal to Northcote as I’ve spent so much time here. I have played my share of shows in bars and pubs neighbouring the store and there are so many local characters that I cherish.
This neighbourhood knows great music and it puts up a great feed. I've really cemented myself here over a period of years.
Inspire us by painting a typical day that you have managing your store.
I am lucky to be the architect of my days so each day is a unique map and it really depends on my motivation levels.
You’ll mostly find me researching a lot (regarding brands, fit out, planning shoots), packing orders (which is a true joy, I love wrapping parcels) and trying to negotiate with my cat as she terrorises dogs from the safety of the shop window.
Creative direction is a true passion of mine so I am lucky enough to collaborate with close friends creating series of images for the store, any day I've spent doing this is a highlight.
It's always a pursuit of connectivity so there are some exciting collaborations on the way and the introduction of vinyl to store which is a dream finally realised!
It’s been quite new and really lovely to touch base with musicians and distributors to get their titles in store. It’s an artform that constantly provides food for the soul and it’s been hard to see musician friends missing that connectivity and questioning the reality of their industry in times of late.
Besides your amazing store, what else do you do?
I have a small label - Sunshine Symbol which I do design for periodically but it doesn’t subscribe to traditional seasons and releases so it’s a very heart led, chill operation, as the inspiration strikes me I take off with it.
'It's a medium I speak through when I really feel like I've got something to say.'
I make music with my dear friend Alan which as circumstance would have it has been bi-annual at best of late, but we’re itching for it so it’s not going anywhere.
I do reserve a portion of my time for fantasising about becoming a private detective.
When I was in Paris I was quite transfixed by a ‘Duluc detective’ sign emblazoned in green neon. I often think about absconding to that very place and offering my services. I have decent foundational French but it needs some work.
Not only do you own and manage a store while running a fashion label, but you are also a talented vocalist! Tell us about Serene Dreams!
Serene Dreams is the atmospheric ramblings of myself and one Alan Jones; dear friend, painter, guitar whisperer.
Alan and I met in our former band which was a 13 piece when I found them and then suddenly a five piece. I became the only woman in the picture which was a beautiful experience, I earnt 4 brothers.
Alan and I were discovering that we had this separate tangent forming and started to experiment as a two piece alongside the band. It was kind of dis-settling to go from so much instrumentation to such sparseness with just a vocal and an electric guitar. It was a welcome challenge which ultimately made me more conscious of how I fill space.
Writing with more intention and experimenting more with my vocals, really making the most of the raw aspect we embarked on. I wanted to explore the flexibility of meaning and duality songs take on, there are a lot of love songs that have hidden meaning depending on the lens they're viewed through.
We currently call what we do "love songs for renegades and lullabies for getaway drivers"
As part of Melbourne's creative community, what are you thankful for and what would be amazing to have?
I’m thankful that fellow creatives lift each other up, there’s not this overarching sense of competition which I find really sets the Melbourne fashion scene apart.
It would be amazing to have a complete lack of fast fashion brands in our beautiful heritage buildings.
Also something outside of the instagram platform which I think has largely desensitised people to beauty as there's a glut of it, often and quickly.
We noticed that you are raising awareness on the issue of Climate Change, Can you please tell us about that experience?
My in laws founded a group called ADAC which acts as a support system to amplify climate change activist groups but their specific goal is to emphasise and support Zali Stegall’s bill. The bill aims to make legal a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050. The government previously refused this bill and we are quickly nearing a critical point of no return if they don’t accept legal responsibility for bettering our impact on the natural world. Our very livelihood and legacy is at stake and we are all running out of patience.
I’m focused on the daily actions that keep a sense of hope and possibility alive that will inevitably influence change.
I’m certainly no authority on the matter but I’m trying to gently normalise conversations surrounding letter writing and campaigning amongst friends.
Most of the time I’m preaching to the choir, it’s just that people mostly don’t know where to channel their good intentions, myself included.
I recently partook in the mass mail out for climate campaign which aimed at 30,000 letters to present to government in support of re-introducing this bill. It’s all in the lead up to the international climate conference later this year, a very important event that will mark Australia’s commitment on climate action which to date has been really embarassing.
It can feel intimidating and futile when thinking about how we can offer support as individuals, but that very sentiment is what gets in the way of progress.
You are wearing Arne Top in the images, Can you please tell us what do you love about it?
I am drawn to Perple because it feels to me like a celebration of cinema and architecture. There’s inherent drama and structure in each piece while also being wearable.
I’m definitely more of an emotive dresser than I am pragmatic, the Arne top has just always pulled at my heart strings. The design lines celebrate a woman’s curves and your use of pearls make me sentimental.
I have inherited a love of pearls from my maternal influences and they always stir thoughts of legacy and timelessness.
Lastly, Can you please list us good reads, music, activities and small businesses that you are loving right now, so we can go check them out ;)
There are so many that cycle through my head with some seasonality but at present:
I listen to ‘On being’ regularly, a podcast that explores the question of ‘what it means to be human’. Krista Tippett is such a gracious interviewer and she employs such care with her guests, it always rocks my world.
Musicians I am blissed out on currently are Maple Glider; a lush, ethereal soundscape. I have also just revisited Angie McMahon’s Piano salt album which is a testament to the raw simplicity of piano and vocal, it moves me deeply. Both are artists whose vinyl I will be stocking.
Weyes blood is also a musician I worship, she has really captured the zeitgeist and speaks to the topics of climate change and the anticipation of grief for a world that needs our protection.
Activities- Chess, Golden Age cinema's website for art house films, the decadence of a margarita, a bottomless bowl of pasta and the employment of a great face serum.
Check out my friends Shop memento for vintage homewares and my darling Dominique Healy for effortless swag. Kalaurie is another one that sets my heart a flutter.
Locally: Zsa’s for a mean Bloody Mary and Asobii Vintage for one of a kind threads.