CLRS launches new brand

By Riverine Herald

THE latest must-haves in home decor are now in stock at the Murray River Tea Rooms and the Number 4 Op Shop.

Community Living and Respite Services has officially launched a new brand of upcycled, high quality, boutique and unique products which is based on recycling, collaboration and providing another opportunity for people with disability.

The brand, Collaborate, is made from preloved materials donated by the community to Recyclability and on Tuesday night last week more than 80 people packed the Murray River Tea Rooms to witness the launch and meet the outstanding Recyclability team behind the brand.

CLRS chief executive Suzanna Barry said Recyclability had been providing kerbside collections in the local area since 2015 and was committed to reducing landfill and supporting people with disability.

‘‘This has brought people together for a very special purpose and the community has shown amazing support for the upcycling project in the form of donations of goods,’’ Ms Barry said.

It is this strong support of the community that led to the expansion of Recyclability and the opening of two retail shops, the Op Shop at 4 Percy St, Echuca and in 2017 the Murray River Tea Rooms.

At the opening Ms Barry and project worker Sandra Carey shared the Recyclability story, explaining how the Collaborate upcycling project developed thanks to a $20,000 contribution from State Trustees Australia Foundation, Grassroots Grants program and $3316 from Campaspe Shire Community Grants.

A project group was formed earlier this year to plan the product development and brand launch.

The group benefited from the marketing expertise of Echuca Moama Tourism’s Kathryn Mackenzie, the retail knowledge and experience of volunteer Kerry Collins and creative skills of staff member Jan Molluso.

Donald Dorman and Jaymee-Leigh Upton, along with several CLRS staff members also provided invaluable input.

‘‘Half of the people here tonight are a part of the Recyclability team or Murray River Tea Rooms staff — and it’s fantastic to be here announcing this after the hard work everyone has done throughout the past six months,’’ Ms Carey said in her speech.

‘‘It’s the story behind these products that separates them from everything else on sale. And over the past few months it has been amazing to watch everyone’s skills develop and their confidence using sewing machines grow.

‘‘We could not have done this without the support of the more than 60 volunteers, staff, sponsors, partners, businesses and the community.

‘‘And you, our customers are part of our story. Because without you, our brand would just be another pillow sitting in a corner.’’

The Collaborate range is now available at both shops and includes cushions, trinket and plant containers, wind chimes, dog coats and blankets, buntings and garlands and reusable fruit and vegetable produce bags.

Revenue from product sales is directed back into the Recyclability and Murray River Tea Rooms social enterprises.

‘‘Collaborate not only promotes the inclusion of people with disability, it showcases the great outcomes that can be achieved through working together,’’ Ms Barry said.

‘‘You can be part of the Collaborate story by purchasing a Collaborate product, which will help support people with disability gain volunteering experience, learn new skills, develop confidence and increased self-esteem.’’

Photos: Gillian Noelker.