Interview Amy Willing / Images Emma Daniels
You may not know Emma, but you have probably heard of her business, Dear Pluto, a culture and lifestyle brand through which she runs small-scale events for and in support of young artists. They pop up at local bars, warehouses and art galleries with makers markets, vintage sales, workshops, exhibitions and dating parties. Aside from curating creative people, she’s also a talented photographer and has an eye for quality vintage designs.
Hi Emma! Can you tell us about how Dear Pluto started?
I launched the vintage line in 2008 due to a very elementary need for both wardrobe space and cash. I never anticipated it would take-over my life! I ran monthly sales from my warehouse in Hibernian House, which grew to be very popular, very quickly. 2 years later, following a brief stint in Europe and inspired by the multi-use spaces in Berlin, I moved to an old coach house behind Crown Street and re-named the brand from 601 to Dear Pluto. I stayed there for 3 years until the building was sold off and we were booted out. It was a fantastic, flexible space with a large projector screen and open beam ceilings. It was there that I launched all the other events we’re now known for.
Where did your love of vintage style and all things handmade come from?
I used to follow all the designers and read all the fashion magazines when I was younger, and as soon as I discovered most of the designs were appropriated from decades past, I was hooked. I loved the timelessness and incredible quality of vintage pieces. Being someone who considers themselves environmentally conscious, I also wanted my purchases to reflect my morals. Recycled goods make so much more sense to me than ethically and environmentally questionable pieces that fall apart after a year. So, I discovered a love of and talent for op-shopping – right as the vintage movement was picking up steam. The handmade aspect came later, when I opened the shop on Wilshire Street and found myself with the space and time to welcome locals to sell their wares.
You’re a little bit of a curating genius. You connect artists with audiences, audiences with arty goods, and single people with other single people. How do you see your role in all these connections?
As someone who’s far more comfortable in the spectator’s seat than front and centre, I think it’s in my nature to connect people. I find it really fulfilling. I’m not particularly talented when it comes to making things with my hands, so being a facilitator for local creatives allows me the joys of sharing original work with the public, without anyone having to be privy to my wonky pottery or homemade cat toys.
Let’s talk about the dating for a second. In a world where potential dates are just a right-swipe away, what does old fashioned speed dating have to offer?
I find it funny that we now see speed dating as ‘old fashioned’; many of my conversations with the older generation about my events revolve around us millennials having so little time to date that we have to date 20 people in one go. Personally, I think our Dating Parties are a happy medium. Sure, it’s not as great as meeting your dream lover at the bookshop, but it sure as heck beats Tinder. The ratio of faces to actual interactions are infinitely better than you’ll get on any dating app, and the environment is fun, casual and engaging. How does the saying go? A babe on a date is worth 20 on Tinder.
You are someone who describes themselves as (formerly) shy, and yet you have built up a community that is all about meeting people and putting yourself out there in a very personal way. Are there times when you wish you’d picked a quieter career, and if so what keeps you going?
It may be a fallacy I tell myself to get through it all, but I very much see myself as acting behind the scenes of Dear Pluto. I’m always confused when someone recognises me or knows my name. I’m trying to be more okay about it. Do you remember when you were a kid, and you’d hide behind a pole half your size and think, “well, if they can’t see me, I can’t see them!” That’s pretty much me. Eyes closed, buttcrack out. Still playing the game though. The only times I can’t kid myself is when I find myself talking about my personal life on the stage or radio. But you have to challenge yourself sometimes. I do maintain that Dear Pluto has its own personality though, and whether it’s letting the collection, artists, makers or teachers speak for themselves, I would hope that’s what people are focusing on.
When you’re not hanging out at vintage markets, how do you spend your time?
I love my friends, and I love having a weekend when I’m afforded the opportunity, but more than anything I love what I do, so I dedicate most of my time to Dear Pluto. My some-times distractions include my crazy kitten, friend’s backyards, camping, going to the drive-in, warehouse parties, waterhole adventures and watching crappy action films. Shit, does that sound like a Tinder by-line? At least I didn’t say rockclimbing.
Can you tell us what you’re working on next?
At the end of June we’re putting on a Speed Dating Party at a secret warehouse in St Peters. We’ve also got a Speed Gays lined up for July, a gay and lesbian Speed Dating Party we run together with the legends from Heaps Gay. Lastly, we’re working on a range of Markets, Pop Up Shops and Workshops that are still hush hush, but will take place over the next few months. Subscribe to our events on Facebook, or join our mailing list to be kept in the loop!
And lastly, whatever happened to Millie, the Dear Pluto shop cat?
I called her Millie because she was born in the millennium year (I was a very creative child, clearly) so… well, you do the math. She was a beautiful cat, and I still miss her all the time. Her health declined rapidly and without warning, and it broke my heart. I’ve honestly never known a more gentle animal. When we used to host film nights, she’d make her way around the shop from one person to the next, very contentedly but never for more than a few minutes each. I guess she was a natural speed dater. \\