Lifeline Canberra's Karen Bustamante in the Hipsley Lane store in Braddon. Photo: Daniel Spellman
Tucked away in the burgeoning hot spot of Braddon, a new boutique is offering fashion with a side of philanthropy.
The aptly-named Hipsley Lane – situated on the hipster-laden Lonsdale Street – is Lifeline Canberra’s newest fundraising venture.
From sequin-laden boleros to ‘70s-style jumpsuits, the vintage clothing store offers a wide array of high-quality pieces imported from America and handpicked by the charity’s commercial enterprise manager, Karen Bustamante.
She said the store – which also sells a range of Lifeline’s trademark second-hand books – was inspired by a desire to raise funds in a less-than-typical way.
“We wanted to give Canberra people a shop that had beautiful stuff but that was going back to a worthy cause – something with a feel good factor,” she says.
“Knowing that vintage was coming back in a big way we thought that was a really good opportunity to invest in that.
“There’s nothing like that in Canberra besides op shops and we aren’t an op shop.”
Hipsley Lane isn’t Karen’s first foray into the world of fashion. The entrepreneur studied fashion before starting her own Canberra clothing store Cowboys and Angels 17 years ago.
Five years after her store’s closure she says it’s great to be still working in the industry.
“I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in now to be doing something that I really, really love but to be doing it for such a good cause,” she says.
“That’s the great thing about Canberra being so small – that network. I was really able to use all of my contacts to get to where we are now.”
Karen has been working on Hipsley Lane since joining Lifeline Canberra in February and from the very beginning she had a concrete idea of what she wanted the store to be.
Having once owned a children’s shop in Braddon, she was set on the up-and-coming location being an essential part of the business model.
“My whole intention when I started doing the feasibility report for Hipsley Lane was that it had to be in Braddon – I never veered away from that,” she says.
“I’ve known the area and what it’s like, [I’ve] seen how it’s developed and become what it is now.”
The store is housed in an old warehouse dubbed Lonsdale Street Traders that has been divided into 17 temporary shops.
The space’s industrial feel only adds to the boutique’s alternative appeal, offering up just the right amount of creative atmosphere.
Karen says Hipsley Lane and its neighbours – fellow independent retailers and artists – provide Canberra with something interesting and unique.
“I’ve always been an advocate for shopping locally; it’s really nice to see all these new little shops popping up,” she says.
“With all the shopping malls independent retailers eventually get squeezed out because of the rents, so this is nice, you get to be creative and you’ve got that support.
“And there are a lot of people in Canberra who don’t want to shop in malls. That’s what we’re trying to provide with this warehouse, a little arcade.”
A: Shop 2, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon
P: 0420 530 445