Why look down when you can look up? The sky is home to some of my favourite beings – birds. I am envious of their freedom, the way they seem to effortlessly defy gravity and I am even more entranced by their arrow-head flying formations, particularly at dawn or dusk, when they seem to be inkily etched against the sky.
Our continent has been blessed with glorious birds and some of the most overlooked are the teeny tiny ones such as fantails, wrens and finches. One of my favourites is the Zebra Finch, a wee bird with a bright orange super-pointy bill and black, white and grey plumage. Its face is finished with eye strips which look like tear drops running down birdy cheeks.
The bird has given its name to a delightful home wares store, which sits like a ray of sunshine in the behemoth that is Marketown. This western side of the vast West End shopping centre is the loveliest section and it houses many independently owned stores, making for an unexpectedly lovely shopping mall experience.
Zebra Finch began life a couple of years ago in the news agency next door to its current home. Kate McNally, the daughter of the owners, started buying home ware and giftware lines to sell next to the papers and magazines. When these products became successful she cast her eye around for a dedicated shop. Fate intervened and the store next to the newsagent became available, soon it was transformed and the public responded immediately and enthusiastically to this pretty new space.
But what was she going to call it? Kate recalls that she was coming home on the train and throwing names around with a work colleague who remarked “you always have lots of bird objects” and drew a quirky bird image for her. Kate reproduced that same quick sketch on the blackboard at the front of the store and it is now the store’s graphic. Bird names were thrown around and the lovely Zebra Finch was declared a winner.
The shop is full of luxurious, but liveable, home wares: ornaments, soft furnishings, heavenly throws, framed prints, unique knick-knacks, silk flowers, floral arrangements and gorgeous cushions in muted colours and bold designs. The children’s giftware is particularly smart and stylish and thankfully free of lurid pink, princess and Disney-themed items.
Zebra Finch has decorated many local businesses, as well as private homes and with an interior designer on staff they are happy to offer assistance if you hit a creative dead-end. Kate encourages new and existing clients to bring in their design wish list and interior challenges and let Zebra Finch weave some magic solutions for you. Dealing with over 40 suppliers for just the one store means that it always looks sumptuously stocked.
Next month this pretty shop celebrates its second birthday and business is flourishing. Kate is regularly asked if she is going to open another store, or if she is interested in starting a franchise. She’s not. Happy with just one, which has a steady traffic flow and a growing customer base, Kate is busy enough balancing its day-to-day running with the demands of a young family. The store’s name causes some interesting social media confusion, with its Facebook page being followed by many ornithologists, as well as the more predictable designers and artists. But maybe it isn’t as funny as it seems.
Zebra Finches pair for life. The female alone selects the nest site, but both birds care for the eggs and when the young hatch both participate in raising the clutch of Master or Miss Finches. With such an innately homey disposition they make a perfect mascot for this charming store.
Zebra Finch, Shop 10 Marketown Shopping Centre. Phone: 4929 5345. Facebook: Zebra Finch Style. Instagram: #zebrafinchstyle. Opening hours: Monday – Wednesday 9.00-5.30pm, Thursday 9.00 – 6.00pm, Saturday 9.00- 4.00pm, Sunday 10.00am-3.00pm.
For more on Zebra Finches and how you can help them survive, check out the Birds in Backyards Program run by BirdLife Australia: www.birdsinbackyards.net
Have you chosen the West End as your home or as the perfect place to run your business? Do you have a West End tale which deserves a wider audience? What inspires and infuriates you about the West End? If you have a story to tell I would love to talk to you! Here’s how to find me: firstname.lastname@example.org; 0413 250 155.