VH World: Chela Edmunds
We're incredibly lucky to call Chela Edmunds a friend, and now a neighbour! Chela recently moved her ceramics business Takeawei a hop, skip and a jump away from the Variety Hour store, to 120 Gertrude Street. What's more, she's transformed the space above her shop into Gertrude's Apartment, a destination stay for art and design lovers.
We decided to welcome her to the street the best way we knew how: by throwing a speed flash in her face and making her answer a bunch of questions for us.
I grew up...
All over the place... the Sunshine Coast, Northern Beaches of Sydney and northern NSW. Lots of beautiful coastal places so I have a love of the beach and I do miss the humidity that comes with living up north.
The family home was...
The first one I remember was built by my Dad, who was not a builder but a handy person. I remember having a green corrugated roof on the room where I slept that this peacock would walk on in the morning and wake me up. We lived at a Buddhist centre in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It was in the bush and we had a dam for water and kerosene lamps as lights, no electricity.
Brothers or sisters?
I have 5 sisters, We are all really close. We have lived together in share houses, travelled together and lived overseas together as adults. My sisters are like friends, friends that know me at my best and worst and still put up with me.
What was your first job?
I worked at the big Oyster in Taree. I really wanted a job and I had it lined up before I was the minimum age...so I was 14 and something months old when I started. It was a roadhouse restaurant that served overpriced Bain-Marie meals to truck drivers and greyhound passengers. It was a really crappy job! But it was a job and even the crappy ones have taught me things.
What were you like as a teenager?
Industrious, I used to make things and I was always sewing and making patterns for clothes. I was impatient though and I would often just lay a pair of pants on the ground and cut the fabric around them to make something, which of course meant I got it wrong a lot of the time and had to start again. I did markets around northern NSW selling things I made.
Where did you go to school?
I did my last two years at In Coffs Harbour. I worked a bit after high school and travelled until I ended up in Melbourne and applied for textiles at TAFE, worked in fashion and then back to uni to get my textiles degree. I found the bridge between school and a creative career really hard to navigate, I had no idea what my options were or how to get there.
When was Ocean born?
5 days before my birthday in winter. She was 13 days over that due date and I think she would have gone longer.
Juggling work and motherhood?
Is it called juggling? I feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark carrying a saucepan full of hot water with a baby around my ankles. I don’t think they are mixing well at the moment so I’m trying to keep my work hours to when Ocean is at daycare or sleeping so I can be present when we are together.
A transformation, the whole pregnancy. I feel like I had to deal with some demons, fears and hopes. It was a crazy journey and Im glad pregnancy was 9 months because I needed every bit to ready myself emotionally. The birth was long, I was trying my hardest for a natural birth and had a c section in the end. I was scared and it was really hard to know the right decision to make. I cried when Ocean was put in my arms and you would think after labour I would be sleeping but I didn’t sleep all night just looking at her face.
I started Takeawei...
Around 2013, I had just moved back to Australia after living in New York. I had been doing ceramics as a hobby for about two years pretty obsessively but it wasn’t until I moved into a shared studio in North Melbourne, bought a cheap wheel and a bag of clay and started throwing pots that Takeawei started as a business. I can remember how much I worked back then as a solo operator and I’m so glad we are a small team at Takeawei now.
I currently work from...
My studio in Torquay out at Ashmore Arts. It’s home to many creatives from painters to blacksmiths. I run pottery classes out there. The surf coast arts trail is also a great time to visit when all the studios are open to the public. Rowena Martinich was commissioned to paint the mural on the new store and has a studio at Ashmore Arts.
Why did you move to Gertrude Street?
Gertrude street epitomises everything I love about Melbourne, the arts, food, fashion, bars and the people. When we had to move from our last store I knew this was the only place I wanted to look and I was so happy to find a shop with an apartment. I’m loving being neighbours with Variety Hour, Dream Baby and Marion amongst others. Gertrude street has my heart, it has the energy of being a village while practically being in the city.
Find Takeawei at:
Find Gertrude Apartments at: