High-tech handmade items available for art lovers

Handmade Exchange brings together artists in a range of fields from fashion to garden ornaments.
Handmade Exchange brings together artists in a range of fields from fashion to garden ornaments. Contributed

TUCKED away in Noosa Heads is the heart of a creative network which has buyers from across the country falling in love with its unique pieces.

The Handmade Exchange, run by husband-and-wife team Liljana and Andrew Frey, began by representing Sunshine Coast artists online and has since exploded into a thriving virtual marketplace.

"We focus on connecting buyers with consumers who otherwise would never have found them," Liljana said.

"All of the products are handmade to a gallery or boutique standard by Sunshine Coast and interstate artists."

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Liljana, a Noosa native, and Andrew, originally from Oregon in the United States, had only dreamed of the freedom of running their own home business until a trip to the US set their plans in motion.

"Andrew's professional background is in entrepreneurship, while the arts and fashion side comes more from myself," Liljana said.

Liljana has been fascinated with beautiful handcrafts since her childhood, when she looked on as her mother created handmade jewellery.

After spending six months in the culture-drenched San Francisco area last year, the couple realised they could bring a little slice of bohemian style to the Sunshine Coast and the rest of Australia.

"San Francisco is a cultural centre," Liljana said.

"It has an amazing vibe, which we felt was missing from the Coast, so we basically wanted to bring a little bit of that vibe back here."

The Handmade Exchange began as a group of fashion designers and jewellers who were joined by local label Pendragon Shoes and soon exploded into a community of 35 artists, offering items that range from garden ornaments to beads.

Liljana said most of The Handmade Exchange's customers were in the 30 to 55-year-old age bracket, with mostly local buyers but also some from interstate.

The biggest challenge, she said, was communicating to customers the real value of handmade items, which can take many hours of tender loving care to produce.

Along their journey, Liljana and Andrew have become close to the contributing artists, whom they describe as a tight-knit group.

Visit handmadeexchange.com to see the range.