|Bec Edmonds and Trent Kirkwood of Moorigin, Ugess coffee shop, West End, Brisbane|
The endeavour has proved a happy pursuit for both Bec, 24, and Trent, 30, with her business and community development background and his winning sales technique.
"Our first ever market was the Chandler markets, a twilight market and it was $20 for a store," recalls Bec. "We loved it, but it's an older market. We were worried we wouldn't sell anything, but there were people all around the stall. Then we did the West End Markets every Saturday for ages. We like interacting with people, though I'm not nice to people until about 9 or 10 o'clock, after a coffee; it takes me a little while after waking up at 4am. Trent's always nice to people."
The affable duo have nurtured the Moorigin brand on behalf of its creator, who they describe as "a graphic designer who does animation as well" and has been married since Trent first met him in Taiwan (most communication is done via Skype and email). Bec and Trent handle the product packaging, distribution (Australia, America, New Zealand) and marketing end of things, contributing some ideas for designs, while Greatman produces a seasonal collection.
"Taiwan is a really youthy, cultural place, and we wanted to help him bring some of that to Australia," says Bec. "Trent has been really good with re-wording the packaging and making it nice and streamlined for our market. It was such a beautiful thing. He wants to sell something beautiful to people affordably. It's cool seeing Trent use his sales expertise for good."
Here Bec is referring to Trent's past career as a car salesman, which has come in handy at the trade fairs and markets that the couple has frequented, though he laments that the job near killed his soul.
"Moorigin has given us a gateway to meet some really cool people," he says. "Business opens so many doors into different circles, and can teach you so much about persistence, friendship and people."
While Bec is winding up full-time work to concentrate her efforts on completing her university studies, working on Moorigin and her start-up market concept, Melba & Pearl, Trent works full time on the brand. It's currently stocked in 25 stores, but they want to limit it to 50 to keep things relatively niche.
The grand vision is to have the brand feeding back into the coffers for the community projects they're involved with. Each Thursday night the couple help serve food at the Wesley Anglican Church at Kangaroo Point, where they have met all sorts of wonderful and strange people, and they'd like to help contribute to the food fund.
"The other night they needed milk and Pastor Paddi opened his wallet and... empty," says Bec. "They're such a humble church. They have a CD player that skips all night. They're the most lovely congregation, full of Islanders. They cook these big pots of noodles and chicken and rice, and they just feed people. They're not all homeless. Some are in community housing. Every week it's the same crew."
Bec and Trent also volunteer for the Hope Foundation, an organisation that helps women affected by drug addiction and the sex trade get back on their feet, while Bec – the type of girl who attracts "randoms" on the street, no doubt with her big smile and beautiful heart – is a big advocate of The Big Issue.
"The Big Issue's awesome," she says. "They just introduced a goal system, which keeps them striving to sell more. It's good to have a target. A friend of mine who sells The Big Issue just bought a washing machine. Another mate was so excited the day he could buy a microwave. The guy I buy off has a following of customers. He's got a bit of a learning disability. He bought me a watch from the $2 shop, because I'd always say, 'Better keep moving, I've got to get to work'."
The couple first met at a party four years ago, but Bec was chewing gum, which was a big no-no in Trent's books, though he did think Bec was beautiful. They talked, but it didn't go any further (stuck on the gum thing). Then both of them signed up for RSVP in the same week, and the penny dropped that they knew each other. For Bec, Trent's motorbike was the kicker that sealed the deal.
Both from split homes, with Bec raised on a Gympie farm by parents she is still very close to, Trent was a Brisbane private school boy who "never felt like a private school boy" and got mixed up in drugs while overseas, and continued partying when he got home. Only, years before they'd met Bec was doing the partying thing on the Brisbane scene.
"I floated around the nightclub scene, the church scene, struggled with eating disorders," says Bec. "One night I had a really bad experience in the city and my friend got taken away and these YWAM chicks came up to me and they were like, 'What are you doing in the city?', and I was like, 'What do you mean?', and they said, 'Well, you've got Jesus on your heart', and I was like, 'How do you know that?', and they said, 'It's written all over your face, go home.' That was a wake-up call. It was really awkward. I couldn't hide anymore, so I had to get my stuff sorted out. Things I hadn't dealt with about mum and dad. I started going back to church and got really involved."
Bec had wised up, and it was time for Trent to catch up if they were to have a future together. "No one had ever put the hard word on me before," says Trent. "I was, like, 'Crikeys, what do I do?'". He got his act together, and they found common ground to work from; a church in Kenmore they could attend and projects, like Moorigin and the food drive, to collaborate on.
"I've got a real heart for little kids who are less advantaged and helping them with creativity and imagination and helping them to see further than their circumstance," says Bec, undoubtedly the tougher of the two when it comes to dealing with life's hard knocks.
"It's like that old saying, 'Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day but teach him how to fish and he can feed himself and his family'. That's why I'm studying, I want to help people be sustainable through business. Through business you have finance and that helps you learn how things work so you can help other people start. It gets a bit discouraging sometimes, but that's the vision."
Visit Moorigin.com or like Moorigin on Facebook.
Girl With a Satchel