13 December 2006

RiotACT business profile # 1 - Raven (more than just a goth shop)

| johnboy
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For the first of what we intend to make a regular series* Jazz (aka Tim) and I went down to talk to Lucy and Erin who run the fashion label, and emporia-of-the-dark-side, Raven on Bunda Street. These pieces will involve pictures, a written article and a podcast of the interview for those wanting to hear the business owners in their own words (and in the background of this one you can clearly hear the music of Raven).

[Lucy on the left, Erin on the right. Yes, Lucy is a man]

Since 2002 Raven have been providing Canberra’s goths, emos and metalheads with all the black, leather, and metallic goodies that make them so distinctive on the streets of our town. To our surprise we learned that there is a “Manic Panic” range of hair care products and cosmetics, it turns out you can’t get that look at your average beauty salon. Since 2004 they’ve had their shop up the stairs next to Chairman Yip on Bunda Street.

If you look for it, it is signed from the street.

And once you pick up the trail the door isn’t too hard to find.

A series of signs leads the way up the stairs and along the corridor.

And then suddenly you’re in a place with a palette of scarlet, black, and purple.

There is also something of a morbid motif running through…

(yes, that’s the top end of a coffin)

Ok, maybe more than just a something…

I’m assured that the liquid in the bottles really is holy water, although holy to which denomination is unknown. Also why the vampiric goths want to have it at all is probably a question best left unasked.

Folk confused by the recent “emo” thing will be pleased to hear that Erin and Lucy are none too clear where it came from or what it means but are happy to sell to their enthusiastic teenage clientelle of emos.

Despite the formidable appearance of their young customers it is interesting to note that shoplifting isn’t an issue for them. The screaming spawn of satan are well mannered and make valued customers.

It isn’t all youth however, older customers abound looking for something special to wear for fancy dress. Corsetry, for example is a big part of the business.

Raven clothing is not only designed in Canberra by Erin, but also manufactured here by local seamstresses. How many other items of clothing can you say that about? Here are some examples of their outfits.

(Their model, bye the bye, is also one of the legendary Suicide Girls, I hadn’t realised they had members here in Canberra and that information might well keep me up at night)

When asked if there was anything local government could do differently to help their business, their most pressing issue was the filth of the litter piling up in Civic. Parking and loading zones are also a major issue.

Also local small business assistance doesn’t have a pigeonhole for something like Raven, making it very hard to get assistance.

In terms of the Federal Government burden it’s a real struggle for a small company, importing stock and exporting goods they’ve manufactured, to keep on top of the GST across a large range of products. A lot of legal and accountancy advice is needed for a small business trying to do the things Raven does.

When it comes to marketing Raven regularly advertise in BMA magazine as well as actively sponsoring live music events where potential customers throng for the right kind of music.

Music is a key part of lifestyle on the dark side and Raven seeks to provide all their needs that can’t be found anywhere else. Even wondered where those astonishing belt buckles came from?

How about the spiky collars?

Being able to work with things they love, supporting their own sub-culture, and spending the day listening to music they like balances the inconvenience of never being able to take a holiday. An added bonus is a clientelle that has no need for the shop to be open before 11am.

Erin regards their biggest risk as being cash flow management, something common to small retailers with large, expensive, inventories on hand. Keeping track of fashion is vitally important, something made harder by servicing a sub-culture where fashion gurus are few and far between. Raven sell a lot of stock on consignment for local artists and designers (their are nearly as many people producing art in this genre as buying it). While consignment might seem like a shopkeepers dream, the low markups and high administrative overheads make it less attractive than it appears at first glance.

(artwork on consignment awaiting the cashed up, but gloomy)

For those who didn’t already know about the shop, Erin thinks the best reason to check it out is for the unique items they stock that can’t be found off the rack anywhere else. Also gothic homewares have to be seen to believed.

So that’s Raven. Lucy and Erin might look a little different, but they’re designing and manufacturing right here in Canberra while servicing the needs of their community. And they’re an absolute delight to talk to.

The feed for podcatching the audio (~30mins) is http://the-riotact.com/wp-rss2.php?cat=46

* RiotACT receives no inducements or considerations to produce business profiles. In this case we approached Raven for the interview. If there’s a local business you’d like to know more about email business@the-riotact.com with their details and why you think they’re interesting.

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Went in for a look at lunch. It is a very well set up little shop, I could have spent a lot more time than the 30 minutes I did oogling the artifacts and doo-dads. Best stuff I’ve seen in a long time.

Got me a great handful of 2 dollar buttons as well. Theres lots of tops little cheap things you can throw some plastic at.

Good idea for a story. Nice to see support for a local business doing something different.

Thanks Jazz.

That guy used to scare me when I was about 10.

Stuff the belgian beer, go Zierholz. Local german beer, the piss that pisses over all other piss.


Some ideas: Mooble in Civic (enviro stuff)
The baby shop in Mitchell (local, and competing with mega franchises)
Any of the funny little second hand book shops.

I am not living in Canberra, but I have heard there is an allergy shop in Jamieson? Could be interesting.
Also, I personally would be interested to know where you can get good belgian beer, proper French champagne, and soy cheese. Don’t know if anyone else would be interested though.

* RiotACT receives no inducements or considerations to produce business profiles. In this case we approached Raven for the interview. If there’s a local business you’d like to know more about email business@the-riotact.com with their details and why you think they’re interesting.

So, yes, we’d love suggestions, preferably locally owned.

Well, I am not into Goth, but I am into corsetry, so thanks for the heads up! Will definately be checking this shop out when I get to Canberra (next month…not many sleeps now).
And I would also like to add my voice to the chorus saying what a great idea for a thread – are we allowed to make requests? (either suggest a business we know or ask you to seek out certain types of businesses?)

this article is really great – look forward to more in the series.

i remember lucy from the old impact days – i remember seeing him smile in about 1989!




I’m going to be staying up at night as well now. I’ve also got me a shopping bug now.

Thanks, threeze. As only a part-time (and ageing) Goth I’d gotten a lot more staid since coming down here.

Great idea for a series guys (and excellent choice for the first installment). Look forward to more.

Absent Diane9:02 am 13 Dec 06

and yes bring back gypsy bar…either version

Absent Diane9:00 am 13 Dec 06

there was also lithium but I believe that has been shutdown now due to lack of security.

That goth night you are talking about terubo is good.. my band played a gig in the TAB there and then partied hard upstairs for the rest of the night…

yes it is jey

I loved Lucy in Firefox…

However I think his hair was shorter.

Isn’t that (Lucy) the guy that used to work at Impact?

Bring back the Gypsy bar

terubo, there is Chrome on at Toast. They normally have fliers up around town and put info up at the Canberra Goths livejournal.

Gypsy bar rocked – he had his own stool at the bar – god help anyone who sat in it – oh and I forgot to say – he looks like James hetfield before metallica went punk.

Cool. I see there is a magick and occult store in the same building.

He was also a fixture in the Gypsy back in the day. Almost never smiled. Nice bloke though

I used to see these 2 guys at Gorman House Markets – but no longer – maybe this is why ?

Lucy used to be the bass player in Armoured Angel – having a filmclip for one of their songs (mysterium) filmed at yarralumla brickworks (2 loves of mine – death metal and old buildings)

Why don’t you ask Erin & Lucy? I’m sure if anyone knew they would.

Friday night is Goth night at the pub on the corner of Harris St/Broadway in Sydney (nr. UTS & ABC). Does anyone know of something similar in Canberra? My Goth gear is gathering dust…

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