8 March 2024

Local love: Tea towels with a Queanbeyan twist spice up the kitchen

| Claire Sams
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A woman in a dress posing next to a framed tea towel

Helen Mackenzie’s latest creative endeavour is something we all have in our kitchens – but with a Queanbeyan twist. Photo: Mikey Pribyl.

For Helen Mackenzie, Queanbeyan is more than where she lives – it is in her blood.

“My mum was born in Canberra and I grew up in Belconnen, but her parents, grandparents and everyone were born in Queanbeyan,” she said.

“My husband had a mechanic business here and we moved here 32 years ago.”

The semi-retired artist makes and sells shell ornaments at local markets but was recently struck with an idea.

“Seashells are my favourite thing in the whole world, but I thought I needed to diversify my products for the markets,” she said.

“I was thinking about what I would sell when I realised I’d never seen a Queanbeyan tea towel.

“My mother used to have a souvenir shop at the Lakeside Hotel in the 1970s, and our biggest sellers were tea towels, as well.”

Inspired by her family’s connection to Queanbeyan, the result was a tea towel printed with a map of the town.

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After finding a map of Queanbeyan, Ms Mackenzie said it took a few rounds before the design was finalised.

“The map is a black design with pale peach highlights on it,” she said.

“It’s a beautiful, balanced design – I didn’t want it to be too colourful or busy.

“I wanted it to be a minimalist design that’s nice and clean to look at.”

A teal towel with a design of Queanbeyan

Ms Mackenzie is accepting orders. Photo: Helen Mackenzie/Facebook.

Once she’d settled on a design, Ms Mackenzie sent it off to be mass printed.

“I opened a Shopify account and it’s been a very big learning curve for me,” she said.

Choosing to print the tea towels with Queanbeyan on them was the easy decision.

“I love Queanbeyan – it’s a lovely country town,” Ms Mackenzie said.

“Everyone knows everyone here, and that gives you a sense of security.”

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Ms Mackenzie said orders were already coming in from far-away places – from people wanting to demonstrate their loyalty to Queanbeyan.

“They used to live in Queanbeyan but have moved on,” she said.

“I spoke to a guy that’s living in Queensland now, but wants the tea towel as a reminder of his hometown.

“I’ve also got locals sending them to family members overseas, so they can show where they live [in Queanbeyan].”

While Ms Mackenzie is accepting orders, sales will soon be temporarily closed until another round can be printed.

“I can see already that I’m going to need to reorder!

“I will let people know when the next batch is here,” she said.

The tea towels are available online via Ms Mackenzie’s Shopify store.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on About Regional.

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