I was welcomed into this tour by my host, Bronwen Taylor who is passionate about the crafts and cafe society scene in Sydney. The coffee and crafts scene in Newtown (according to my host here) makes Newtown one of the, if not, the best suburb in Sydney's inner west. Bronwen was happily working on her crochet piece, with some great organic coffee and some gluten free cake to keep her company. This was so, until I arrived to meet her at the South End Cafe on King Street.
Some beautiful jewellery the beginner students made at one of Etelage's jewellery making courses
My first experiences of Bronwen's coffee and craft tour was enjoying a cafe latte at South End Cafe. I was beginning to explore the best that Newtown has to offer in the coffee and crafts scene. Bronwen lives in Newtown, and has lived in the inner west for over 10 years. Bronwen loves Newtown because the area is vibrant, alternative and (according to her) is the hub of coffee and craft in Sydney's inner west.
Bronwen clearly practises what she preaches. Throughout this article, you will see some of her finished creations. She loves all things crafty, especially crochet. She makes her own clothes, and finds the craft side of things works in well with her love of coffee. This is even coming from someone who is also a data analyst, and is currently studying for her PhD in clinical health. As a tour host for Arribaa, a top leisure and lifestyle experiences company, Bronwen is blessed to be able to achieve that balance between both lines of thinking, and to share her passion for Newtown coffee and craft on the weekends. Therefore she enjoys spending time with fellow Sydneysiders who share similar interests. Bronwen also teaches crochet at Granny Square, and also sells her creativity to share with Sydney and the rest of the world.
I later find out that Bronwen is also passionate about beads, jewellery and rug making. She is environmentally conscious, and finds the art of craft a great form of meditation for herself. Her personality is infectious and she is a great person to meet, know and become great friends with. I was introduced to the shopkeepers in all of the craft stores I was taken to. Bronwen learnt the art of craft making, including crochet by reading books and seeking top quality mentors online. You can't help but be inspired and passionate about wanting to learn how to crochet after meeting and spending some quality time with her. As a result I am soon looking forward to learning how to crochet from Bronwen real soon.
After enjoying a quality brew at South End Cafe, Bronwen took me to the Fiji Markets. This is where her addiction and love of fabrics, including the kimono comes alive. Her next crafty plans are to make a doona or two down the track. If you're into craft and all things art deco, then this tour is for you. An amazing two hours well spent.
If you're more interested in other craft activities, all is well and good. Why? Bronwen actually asks you more about what particular types of crafts you're interested in, and then her tour is tailored to your needs. Her passion for people also shines when you're on one of the Newtown craft and coffee tours with her. The craft shops visited mainly sell quality handmade craft items.
The next craft surprise arrived at the Beehive Gallery, and it was a real pleasure to see some of Bronwen's crochet items on display for sale. It was also a pleasure meeting Japanese owner Tsuneko Umemoto. The Japanese kimonos that just arrived were of great quality. This craft shop has been around for almost seven years now. As owl objects are in vogue in Sydney right now, the Japanese wood crafted owls were too irresistible to not take photos of to share with you.
Visiting Etelage, a craft shop that predominantly sells beads and wires for crochet was just amazing. It was also a pleasure to have met the shops Creative Director, Christine Smalley. Etelage will soon achieve an amazing milestone on the Newtown crafts scene. Their 10th birthday celebrations will be conducted next month, as at the time of writing this. Etelage runs a variety of different jewellery making workshops for all experience levels. It was a pleasure to have been shown some jewellery pieces made by beginners after only a couple of hours after learning the art of jewellery making for the first time. How inspiring. Etelage also sells jewellery stones with Swarovski crystals.
Equally as inspiring, it felt like I was walking into a lolly shop when Bronwen took me to All Buttons: a craft, jewellery and button shop that has been around in the area for an amazing 24 years. One of Newtown's busiest craft shops. The vibe here is excellent, and they also sell some amazing buttons with Swarovski crystals. All Buttons also apparently sold some large kilt pins, similar to the 2012 runway designs from Marc Jacobs, the creator of the recently launched fragrance Dot, as at the time of writing this. I also learnt that Bronwen's favourite colour is blue.
As in life, all good things must come to an end. There was time for one more coffee pit stop. It is amazing how two hours flies just like that when you're in the zone and having buckets of fun in Newtown. A cup of strong Turkish coffee was enjoyed at Ferah Turkish Cafe, and I have just realised that I have just made another great friend in Sydney so quickly. We spilled the beans on each other's work and on life, and how amazing it is to be living in Sydney. We got on like a house on fire. Drinking Turkish coffee at Ferah Turkish Cafe was just amazing. You would be forgiven for thinking that you're somewhere in the middle east rather than in King Street Newtown. My final verdict: the coffee and craft tour with Bronwen is so worth your time. An amazing experience that needs to be done to appreciate coffee and all things crafty.
Arribaa is a community based portal that enables locals in Sydney and many other cities to share their passions. In other words they choose to run their own business through Arribaa as 'hosts.' Hosts are like companions who guide you, and they can take you anywhere from bike riding to the coolest pubs and art galleries in town, and of course this depends on your lifestyle interests.
Arribaa are on the hunt for more talented hosts to share with the world their leisure and lifestyle passions in and around Sydney. If you believe you have what it takes, then go to their website for further details.
Justine Crowley would like to thank Arribaa and Bronwen Taylor for this special writer invitation.