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Hunta Gatha: Making New Futures

Nov 21, 2018
Article by Emily Peterson

There’s a new kid on the opshop block: Hunta Gatha. It’s a little different from your average op-shop. You’ll still find pre-loved bargains, sure, but there’s the addition of an upper room buzzing with activity. Mish Makers is a maker’s space for Launceston’s upand- coming designers to create their own products.

And the whole operation is under the umbrella of Launceston’s beloved City Mission, specifically, under three key players: fundraising and marketing manager Vanessa Cahoon, Hunta Gatha retail manager Alana Budgen and youth services supervisor Alex Chee.

“It’s a two-pronged enterprise,” Vanessa explains.

“It’s the retail plus it’s the Mish Makers… We worked with S. Group (design studio) to come up with the name for Hunta Gatha. The Hunta was related to hunting a bargain and the Gatha is relative to the Mish Makers space that is being created on the upper level.”

The Hunta Gatha store on the lower level is run by Alana. She and her team curate the collection of clothing on offer. Items from Cherry Lane are bought on consignment and sold on at affordable prices with profits going to Launceston City Mission’s charitable work. Pre-loved items are carefully selected with a youth audience in mind. “People of all ages come and shop though,” Alana says.

There’s more to the shop than just selling items. Alana talks about “teaching mending” and retail skills to young people. They already have an enthusiastic seamstress on staff as Hunta Gatha’s assistant manager who is keen to pass on her knowledge. Young people will also be able to complete a Certificate II in Retail Services through Avidity with Alana as their mentor.

The upstairs Mish Makers space is an exciting concept. As Alex explains, this space is about assisting young people to “create their own jobs.”

“It’s something that we often don’t think about. A lot of our young people just don’t fit a certain box; they’re not going to fit into those mainstream job opportunities.

“We’re all about building capacity and resourcing young people to do whatever it is they want to do.”

The young designers will ultimately be able to sell their items through the shop below.

“We’ll provide access to materials. We’ll keep a small percentage to cover that and they’ll get the rest,” Alex says.

“Young people get to learn a skill or craft, they can start a business if they want to and have the support to be able to do that. They can sell through the Hunta Gatha store – there’s so many opportunities.”

As well as giving young people a space to innovate, Alex’s aim is to equip them with the “soft skills”.

“In particular, it’s social skills to help them to sustain employment. Social anxiety is quite prevalent. We have young people who are very good at doing things online but they can’t talk to a stranger. How can we create safe spaces for young people to try and test those social skills?”

The room upstairs is sun-drenched and has its own balcony. Standing in this airy space, Alex’s passion comes to the fore.

“Every time I’m in here, I just think about bringing things from darkness to light. When we’re supporting young people, we can hide them away in their little communities but that doesn’t help them navigate the world. In this place, everything’s open and exposed.”

Hunta Gatha and the Mish Makers program is, of course, made possible by generous donations. The bulk of the funding for the project comes via a grant from the Tasmanian Community Fund. It is hoped that mentors will be sourced from among local makers.

“The idea is that we’ll have young people teed up with someone that can teach them the skills,” Alex explains.

If you’re keen to donate resources or volunteer your time to this exciting new venture, contact Launceston City Mission. Alternatively, shop till you drop at Hunta Gatha. Here’s to opshopping our way to brighter futures for our youth!

@huntagathatas (Instagram)

Photos by Melanie De Ruyter

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