September 30, 2015
Trish Foxworthy has always had a passion for screenprinting and the dream of setting up an open access community studio for Melbourne’s printers. For 12 years she has worked in a screenprint small business with Jo Sloggett. Prior to the design world Jo’s background was in the disability sector and she is passionate about providing inclusive opportunities and community projects.
Trish and Jo have combined their dreams with their social enterprise project – The People’s Print – an open access studio for artists, community members and people with a disability.
We sat down with Jo and Trish to ask them about the evolution of the idea behind The People’s Print and their experience bringing it to life through Crunch in 2015.
What was the inspiration behind starting your social enterprise?
TRISH: Back when I was studying at RMIT I was in love with print, but I realised as soon as you left school, which had a fantastic studio, there were no open access studio spaces in Melbourne to continue screenprint practice.
JO: Trish always used to go on about it saying, “I just want to have our own ‘Megalo’ in Melbourne” (Megalo is a Canberra based Open Access print studio). When I used to work in disability all we’d talk about our dreams were about doing something that was a bit more meaningful so finally I said, “okay – but if we’re going to do this we’re going to have it accessible for people with disabilities as well” because it made sense to me to have a truly inclusive space in Melbourne.
TRISH: So those two dreams kind of dovetailed and we talked for years about the dream studio we were going to develop, which was light and open access, with accessibility for people with disabilities as an intrinsic part of it.
JO: Then in running our own business, we got to a space in time where we lost the lease on our cooperative retail shop as well as our studio space. Then Trish got breast cancer and everything changed, within a year of all that massive upheaval, when Trish was finally given the all clear, we sat down and we were thinking about the future and we thought, maybe we should turn our mind to how we could really develop this dream, rather than just talking about it – to actually do it.
How does it feel to have spent six months working on your dream project?
TRISH: Sometimes it’s quite exhausting but most of the time it’s really exhilarating. I think those two things go hand in hand!
JO: It’s been hard because we’ve been so aware that this is such a great opportunity, so we’ve dedicated a lot of time to this. We’ve put our other business to the side more than we anticipated because we really believe in what we’re doing and we wanted to give this 150%.
TRISH: We were also aware of how much further ahead we could get with our idea within this concentrated period of time than we could have on our own trying to slog away.
What’s been some of the benefits of going through the Crunch?
TRISH: It gives you a great opening to meet people, people are more willing to open their door to you when they hear you’ve come from the Crunch – it’s recognised and well respected. We got to speak to people who otherwise may not have given us their time.
JO: Whenever we called local council or a social enterprise that’s doing really well and we mentioned that we were doing the Crunch everyone’s response was “Yes, come and talk to us” which was fantastic.
TRISH: And I think because we’re starting a non-profit business, people have been really generous with their time and supportive of what we’re doing.
JO: I think people can see that what we’re trying to do is worth being involved in so the support has just been huge.
What’s your aspiration for The People’s Print?
JO: To be honest, for me personally the dream is the idea of going in to work and having this amazing community studio and having people come in to use it, whether they are community members, artists or people with a disability.
To see people feeling comfortable and like they’re a part of something, bouncing off each other and the atmosphere of it. I know we can provide the physical space for that to happen and I truly believe that it will happen.
What’s one piece of advice you would give someone to get started working on their dream project?
TRISH: We were lucky in the sense that both of us were in the right place to do this. There is a problem with being able to afford to do it, but if you’ve got the ability then jump for this opportunity because you’ll get so far so fast.
You also have to be the kind of person that’s very determined. Working in our small business we’ve slogged through a lot of difficult situations, so we’re used to that, but I think for some people that might be a bit of a shock.
What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learnt in the Crunch?
TRISH: You really have to be prepared to hit the ground running. We got really energised when we were doing our market research from how much we were learning and all the people we were gaining insights from.
JO: I’ve been working a long time, for big organisations and in small business, but Crunch really turned around my view of how you can run a business and a social enterprise.