Meet Patricia and Glenn: The Soul Pantry
Mercy Bass | On 26, Mar 2016
â€œItâ€™s all about being a part of the community, and working with the community. That idea is entrenched into the workshops, the retail, and even the atmosphere itself,â€ says Glenn Levingston, manager of The Soul Pantry.
â€œWe wanted to create an urban oasis,â€ adds Patricia Foley, the co-owner, and past founder of That Flower Shop, originally based in Alderley but now making up just part of the institution that is The Soul Pantry.
â€œWe were squeezed out the space in Alderley, which came to be a good thing. We were always looking for a larger space, and somewhere we could create something beautiful. Somewhere people could come and relax, buy plants and share experiences.â€
Opening late last year The Soul Pantry is a retailer, florist, cafÃ© and workspace that’s stacked with terrariums and an abundance of succulents.
The building itself is a huge, re-amped shed, located on the verge of suburban housing and industrial warehouses in Newmarket. â€œWe like the idea of space. Our main idea behind pretty much everything we do is to repurpose. We wanted to find a building that we didnâ€™t have to start from scratch with or change too much, that was already beautiful and useful.”
â€œWe find this space really perfect – it has natural light, enough room for the plants, workshops, and it has a homey feel. Everyone has been in a shed in their lifetime, so that feeling is quite comforting,â€ Patricia explains,Â â€œitâ€™s about the usability and flexibility of the space that the shed brings,â€ says Glenn. â€œThe space is always changing – this outdoor space has almost become like a backyard, for people to use themselves, while still having the feeling of a warehouse.â€
This idea of repurposing is all throughout The Soul Pantry, from the recycled paper used to wrap bouquets to the used-glass-jars the flowers are delivered to customers in.
â€œWe recycle plants as well, when the plants are no longer retail-worthy, because they look a little bit off. Instead of disposing of them completely, we have created a plant intensive care unit, where we try and bring them back to life, and sell them at a discounted price.Â â€œIt is difficult – itâ€™s not something we take lightly, we want to make sure we do the right thing,â€ says Patricia.
Their efforts to be sustainable can also be seen throughout workshops The Soul Pantry hold. The papermaking workshop makes use of scrap paper â€“ while teaching attendees a great skill.Â Other workshops will teach you how to make terrariums, kokedamas, concrete pots and flower arrangements.Â â€œEvery workshop, everybody goes home with something they make.â€
â€œWe have found that workshops are interesting because they’re a social experience. People, instead of going out and having a drink, are investing in learning at a social event,â€ says Patricia.
â€œI think people also really love the classes as a way to get away from work. Our evening classes are increasingly popular, as they allow people to have some time out and create something. We donâ€™t really do much with our hands anymore, we are always stuck behind a computer. When you come here, you can use your creative side and make something beautiful, â€ says Glenn.
â€œWe do the workshops through corporate groups as well. We will take little kits and sit around the boardroom table together. It is a real team building experience,â€ says Glenn.
As for the retail side of The Soul Pantry, Patricia says they focus on selling local and thoughtful products, â€œWe always try and benefit the maker. We try and find products that are not necessarily hand made, but have been produced with a little bit more care.â€
One example of this is the soap and hot sauce by Church Farm, made in northern New South Wales, just near Byron Bay.Â â€œThey restored this church and make everything from there. She makes these beautiful soaps by solar infusing her herbs. It is all vegan, it is just beautiful. And then her husband makes Billinudgel Smoked Hot Sauce – itâ€™s all hand made. They just have a beautiful story behind them and how they run their business is something we believe in. We only want to be associated with people like that,â€ says Patricia.
As for the future of The Soul Pantry, Patricia and Glenn are dreaming of adopting a store dog, which will make the already dog and child-friendly shop all the more homely.
You can book workshops, and order hand-delivered flowers or terrariums through The Soul Pantryâ€™s Website, or pop in for a coffee and vegan cheesecake at 19 Kelvin St, Newmarket 4051.