Howdy Partner is a joint venture by three Adelaide small business owners who believe in collaboration over competition.
Say Howdy to inner-child chic at Karma & Crow’s latest retail venture
Tucked behind the Instagram-worthy coffee-slingers at Karma and Crow is a new team putting the wild in the west.
Es Winter, Heather McNab and Lillie Clark are the co-owners of Howdy Partner, a colourful retail store located in the Richmond space.
The trio say uniting their brand under the banner of Howdy Partner was an organic process as they all had an underlying cowboy theme to their individual businesses already.
“We wanted to hone in on that collaborative aspect, and it wasn’t something separate from our other businesses – it was all of us combined together in creating a fun retail space,” says Lillie.
Lillie is the mind behind Maybe April, a pre-loved rent a rack located in Woodside. She curates vintage goods to fill their “cowboy-disco-David Bowie-movie set”.
Lillie explains that when you’re on your own running a store, there’s a tendency to play it safe because of concerns about longevity or demographics and you settle into a safe routine.
“But, when there’s three of us to pick each other up, you can go bananas and it works really well,” Lillie says.
“There is a huge myth around the business that it’s a competitive nature and you have to be really holding tight to your ideas and making sure that you’re heard.
“I’ve never once had to double check that I’m being heard, that’s not how our space works, it’s always collaborative, it’s never been competitive.
“It’s just a wonderful melting pot of each other.”
Everything from the fit out to customer service is a team effort. Es, of See Someone Studio, says it allows the group to grow into the best business owners they can be.
“I come from a different experience background than both Heather and Lillie do, so they can offer me two different viewpoints that I won’t get based on how I view my customer base and how I view my business,” Es says.
“They see it from different perspectives based on what they do in theirs.
“I feel like Adelaide as a whole is starting to see that this is a really healthy and kind way to move forward.”
Heather McNab, the creative behind Jewellery brand Fence Sitter, agrees that it’s the right time and place to bring together brands that have a crossover of customers.
“I think Adelaide is quite good in terms of other small businesses recognising that collaboration is the way to go because it’s a smaller place and it’s really easy to get cult followings,” she says.
“Then you can leverage each other’s secondary associations and often there’s crossover, like lots of Karma customers love our brands and so they’re really excited about this space because it brings things they already love together.”
Since launching in September, the community response has been really positive, with Lillie noting people are having fun diving into the Howdy aesthetic.
“My favourite thing about the launch party was somebody who asked ‘can I dress up as a cowboy’,” she says.
The trio agree that the consumer trends they’ve seen indicate customers are excited to lean into the fun of the store’s theme, which is apparent for Heather whose best-selling earrings have cowboy boot charms.
“I feel like we’re in our healing our inner kids era on that,” Es says.
“The more silly little charms Heather adds to her earrings, the happier you are – and by silly I mean amazing and gorgeous – but maybe four or five years ago, if we tried to introduce that to the market you couldn’t because it was so serious.”
Lillie credits the pandemic with helping people want to find joy in their living space and “falling in love with trinkets again”.
“If we have a store that can support people to do that, why not?”
“The bare minimum is if you’re walking out of Howdy with at least a little more serotonin than when you went in.”
Each piece of furniture in Howdy Partner is upcycled, and the place is filled with creative and local stockists as well as wares from Es, Heather and Lillie’s own brands.
In addition to being a retail space, the group run workshops to provide experiences for customers to pick up a new skills and have a meaningful interaction with friends and the makers themselves.
“People really care about where their products come from, and the story behind them and who’s making them,” Heather says.
The space is disability accessible and they’re looking at hosting other community organisations and makers to run workshops, which Es says was always something they hoped to provide.
“It’s just meant we can say like, all workshops are for everyone, we can cater for everyone and that’s a really nice thing to be ensuring that we’re offering,” Es says.
Future workshops on the agenda include upcycling and mending, where people can make their own tote bags, and even lino carvings to cover stains.
Going into the Christmas season, there will be more seasonal workshops looking at ornaments.
And since it’s Taylor Swift’s world and we’re all just living in it, there’s friendship bracelet making with Heather – plenty of time for the Eras tour to hit Australia, open to Swifties and non-swifties alike.
Howdy Partner is located next to Karma and Crow at 249/251 Richmond Road, Richmond. Keep up with the team and their upcoming workshops on Instagram.