26 Sep Sancho’s Dirty Laundry revisited
A few years ago I interviewed Sancho about her new shop space Sancho’s Dirty Laundry in the Lonsdale Street Traders, which was a former industrial warehouse space converted into a retail hub for independent designers and businesses. Flash forward and Sancho now runs her own dedicated shop and gallery space in the heart of the city.
Last time we interviewed you it was back when you had the shop at Lonsdale Street Traders. Tell us a bit about your journey from there to where you are now – what were some of the challenges involved?
Ooh yeah, that would’ve been about three years ago? I guess a rough chronology of the Sanch haps – Sancho’s Dirty Laundry originally started as a pop-up market stall and online store back in 2012 after having an existential crisis and resigning from my job as a junior product developer at the Royal Australian Mint – that role gave me a solid knowledge on manufacturing and business operations. I also got to work on some great projects building on my skill sets.
In 2013, it then progressed to a permanent shopfront in the Lonsdale Street Traders after winning a two week rent free pop-up space. Two weeks went fast, I received positive feedback and using the money I made over those two weeks for a deposit, I went on to sign a lease for a vacancy that conveniently became available across the walkway. Through the shop, I’ve met other creative leaders and collaborators, and ventured out on side projects. In 2013 I coordinated a street party at the Lonsdale Street Traders called Up Your Alley – a large-scale, outdoor live mural paint. The entire outside building facade was transformed and brought to life with colour, as interstate and local street artists and graffers painted it up.
This sprouted another opportunity, in 2014 a neighbouring warehouse space was offered to me by the Traders building owner Nik Bulum. It became The Chop Shop – one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever taken on board, a pop-up bar, gallery and indoor skate ramp in an abandoned mechanic’s workshop, 5 month lifespan with a lifetime’s worth of cutting Government red tape to get it going. This project broke me in so many ways.
The following year I sizzled and didn’t do any projects, I was so creatively and financially drained. Two years after, now I’m doing Lobrow Gallery & Bar with Beach Burrito in a more stable setting and taking all those lessons and actively applying them. So far things are going ok. Lobrow still comes with it’s own set of challenges at times, but I’m more experienced, calculated, rational and less gung ho. Currently, my time is split between running Sancho’s Dirty Laundry, organising events and advertising for Lobrow, my little screen-printing business on the side and curating one off events (currently curating the arts portion for Spilt Milk festival – I’m so excited!).
There aren’t many galleries in Canberra for street art and “low brow” art, and I’m sure it’s the same in many other smaller cities. What was your motivation behind Lobrow and are there any galleries interstate or overseas that have inspired you?
I guess because I’ve had a lot of help along the way, positive influences and worked with great creative mentors in previous roles. I really just want to pass on those good joo-joo vibes through my shop and various projects and help others. Lobrow is an extension of my shop and a way to invite others to collaborate on events, performances and exhibitions. The intention of Lobrow is to provide a low-risk platform for artists and creatives to establish themselves, tap into a network of like-minded folk and build on their exhibition and project management skills – a place to possibly start, grow and connect.
Galleries that inspire me:
FIFTY24SF / UPPER PLAYGROUND: I discovered this place on my travels through San Francisco about 7 years ago! This gallery is everything I aspire to be (if money wasn’t a factor, oh boy – but baby steps). They have a keen sense of curating the goods!
OUTRE GALLERY: As they mention on their website, their approach is one the breaks out the typical gallery mood. Specialising in contemporary pop, low-brow, surrealism and underground.
THE CULPRIT CLUB: A relatively new pocket-sized space, their modus operandi is pretty in line with mine – “Born from creative frustration, artistic adoration and a hollaback history of bad decisions, comes The Culprit Club, a pocket-sized gallery and retail store.”
You’ve had some pretty cool folks exhibit in Lobrow so far – Bafcat, Chehehe, Glenno Smith and Prypt to name a few. Can you tell us about any upcoming exhibitions?
Yeah! I’ve been pretty stoked with the response so far with the Lobrow space, for the rest of the year we have exhibitions from Zeke & Terhor, VOIR and Abyss.607. Next year will see the space evolve a little too and refine more on the gallery vibes – it’s still a work in progress and definitely a passion project that I keep adding to.
Tell us about Sancho’s Dirty laundry?
Dirty Laundry will always remain an independent venture and a way for me to invite others to collaborate, experiment and play around with my ideas and experiences without having to ask for permission, as well as about taking ownership of my mistakes and successes. It was established with the intention of providing a home for the independent, lowbrow art scene in Canberra. For me personally, it is more than just a shop; it’s a meeting place for the local lowbrow art community. Unpretentious & honest, drawing in people from all walks of life.
I love being independently owned & operated, it’s my last ditch effort at avoiding big business politics and supporting creative start-up brands. The products are from an ethical supply chain; the designers are more engaged, creating from the heart, pieces are exclusive and limited; and the consumer does not fall victim to the noise of advertising and paid endorsements – don’t believe the hype!
What is Studio Level Up?
Studio Level Up is something I’ve wanted to do for the last year, but is still in the planning and development stages, as other pressing commitments seem to monopolise my time. Next year I’ll be giving it a big push, but without giving too much away, LEVEL UP is a clique, a crew, a collective, another buzz ‘c-word’ of fresh faced, enthusiastic, humbly talented, newfangled individuals, brought together by a common drive!
What advice would you give to people thinking of starting up their own shop/gallery?
Hmm, I can only speak from my experience – go into it with a bit of savings, I’m lucky that I fell ass backwards into some opportunities that made me resourceful with limited financial backing. But having start-up capital will afford you more options, make things happen quicker and it’ll be less of a grind. It buys you time to not sweat over the little operational things and focus on the concepts and directions of the shop/gallery. But, just general advice applicable to anything – there’s no real standard or measure for success, you just have to do things and give it a go, work your ass off until you have nothing more to give, be prepared to back yourself, fail and take ownership of it. NEVER FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT – worst advice ever, it becomes transparent and stale very quickly – and you’ll never learn if you never admit you don’t know something.
For more info on upcoming exhibitions at Lobrow check out sanchosdirtylaundry.com
Photography by Dayne Edward