A deep sense of community, pride in provenance and delight in hand made wares brings another spin on multiculturalism at Queen Victoria Market – where USCHA’s leather goods come with connections to India, Morocco and Melbourne.
Meet Barny and Uscha of the divine String Bean Alley stall USCHA – where an array of beautifully made leather journals using handmade recycled cotton paper as well as leather bags and shoes create an Aladdin’s cave featuring one-off originals.
We chat to Barny about his love affair with Melbourne’s multiculturalism, Market Life and how he’s helping families in India through USCHA.
QVM: Hi Barny, tell us about your beautiful String Bean Alley stall.
Our stall is not just about original character filled leather pieces, hand embossed details or hand made papers – we’re inspired by the story behind the creation of our range of leather books, journals and other wares, and the people we help generate income for themselves along the way.
We’re really proud to be directly helping families and generating income for a school in Rajistan, India through their work creating the leather books and we love travelling there to meet the artisans, work with them and see how they’re made.
Each piece is totally original and we can share with our customers the story behind its creation. It’s wonderful to tell the story behind how something is crafted but also the way it’s helping small communities sustain themselves. For instance, the paper used in our journals and books is made by what’s called the ‘paper unit’ – an NGO program that runs schools for local village children in Rajistan. We’ve visited these schools and see what an impact this funding has.
Lately we love sharing how I went to Morocco for a month to work with a group of shoe makers and we’re now featuring these shoes at our String Bean Alley shed. We love to showcase other things from our travels that have an interesting story to tell or help communities.
QVM: It sounds like knowing where something comes from and cultural diversity is of interest to you. Is that in a way what drew you to the Market?
Knowing the families that make our wares and bringing to the Market some great products with good stories to tell is important. It’s a source of great pride to know our work is making a difference to many communities.
The Market has always been a special place to me, I grew up in Melbourne’s inner suburbs and have great memories of coming to the Market. Now that we’re here, we enjoy the atmosphere but we really love meeting people. We get to talk to so many different traders from different walks of life, different customers, visitors from all over the world.
QVM: As a creative stall holder here at the Market, what inspires you?
We love Melbourne. Uscha comes from Amsterdam and while I grew up here, we’ve chosen to settle in Melbourne. We’re inspired by this city’s architecture, art, the alleyways, the galleries – and this also influences how we put together our wares and showcase them.
But we’re also drawn to the multiculturalism of Melbourne, it’s a big influence on me.
QVM: So is the Market itself an inspiration too?
We love it and we love being at the Market. It’s a good fit. We get to display our wares simply and honestly in our shed backdrop and the very nature of Queen Victoria Market means we can always share our story and listen to others.
USCHA can be found in string Bean Alley every Friday, Saturday and Sunday – and at the Night Market on Wednesday nights.