Meet one of the co-owners of a record store in Melbourne, Australia, started by a collective of six friends who decided that they should start a record store made and run by women/gender-diverse people specializing in music by these types of artists. That shop is Feminista Vinyl and today we introduce you to Trish Hayes! While Melbourne, Australia has an array of vinyl shops the group decided they wanted to make one that was welcoming of the above communities and devoted to increasing gender-equity in this aspect of the music industry.
Feminista Vinyl is a record shop run by women and non binary people celebrating female led, trans, non binary and gender non conforming inclusive bands and artists from all cultures. They sell new and used vinyl, CDs, cassettes, books, gifts and clothing and also host events and shows. As a not for profit, they aim to create a safe community space. Their staff are made up of counselors, teachers and musicians. Feminista Vinyl says: “we respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We also acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.”
When not at the shop, Trish says: “I try to counter the perimenopaual forces these days by going to the gym, dancing at our shop after dark with our mates, admiring and serving my ginger cat Tortoro, and when possible seeing mates, gigs and theatre.”
How did you get into your industry / What motivated you?
Two members of our collective, Erica Pringle & Kirsty Letts, were musicians that we already shared a love of music with, being in a community choir we were in together that they ran. Five of our collective are social workers/counsellors who had worked together in pro-choice abortion counseling services and so we had a shared commitment to intersectional feminism. We were celebrating my birthday one night at a friend’s vinyl store and after a few drinks started talking about how it was often intimidating to enter record stores as they can be a traditionally male-domain and how cool it would be if we ran our own record store that focussed on female/gender-diverse artists and that was welcoming to all folk in a way we hadn’t felt before. Hey Presto – the idea was born and the next morning we set to work to create Feminista Vinyl.
What is a day in the life like?
We run our vinyl store as volunteers as we all have other day jobs and we run Feminista Viniyl as a not-for-profit operation, reinvesting any sales back into the business so we can keep running. We open only on weekends but there is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that keeps us running. Our days are made up of ordering stock, restocking the shelves, talking to our wonderful customers, organizing open-mic events, local festivals and liaising with local artists who want to sell their vinyl with us. We fight the patriarchy one cup of tea at a time; one vinyl rotation at a time!
In your opinion what has been your favorite / the coolest thing you’ve worked on?
In 2022 we organized a music festival with the help of a grant by MerriBek Council (our local municipal council) and the Victorian Government. The grant was designed to assist the music industry to get back on its feet after the pandemic-lockdowns of the previous two years that had sorely affected musicians. We produced the inaugural Feminista Vinyl Garden Party and were able to showcase acts Merpire, Hannah Blackburn, Zig Zag as well as some of our Open Mic performers. The event was free for the local community, held at the beautiful Coburg Lake, and it was a roaring success.
What has been / is the most difficult part of your job?
Obviously in setting up the store we had noticed a real problem with gender equity in the local music industry. There is often only an 80/20 ratio of male to female or gender diverse musicians featured at music festivals and events. Music stores are also very male-dominated in both the music they sell and, in their staffing – this can be very intimidating for women and non-binary customers. Most people are very supportive of our work. You get the occasional person asking why we do not stock male artists, but most people get it. We have recently had a man come on board to volunteer and we really value that solidarity and commitment to what we are trying to achieve. The other difficult part is the financial side – it takes a lot of our unpaid time to keep the shop running.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to get into pursuing what you’re doing?
Running a vinyl music store is often described as a labour of love as the profit margins are very low on vinyl stock. We can completely attest to this! Three of us rent the entire premises and run our counseling business in the rooms behind our storefront and this enables the rent to be subsidized which is a huge help. It is one of the things I’m most proud of in my career as a social worker and the fact that five of us had already worked together meant that we knew how to operate as a collective already and that has helped a lot in relation to having to make tricky decisions in a democratic, trustful and transparent way. We call this our mid-life crisis project and I’m so glad we went ahead with it.
What types of things are happening in your industry / with vinyl that you’re excited or worried about? i.e. innovation, or trends you’re seeing.
Hmmm, I just love that local artists are choosing to still produce their music via vinyl in an era when vinyl could easily have gone the way of the dinosaurs. I think everyone and particularly younger generations can relate to the special feeling of holding and owning a precious artifact such as vinyl and that is a different experience than listening via digital means. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many men-folk come into our store to buy vinyl and also the lovely experience of witnessing them bring in their daughters to buy their first vinyl record with their birthday money or Christmas money.
Are you a vinyl collector yourself? What drew you to it?
As a child of the 1970s I grew up with vinyl and my first musical purchases were either vinyl or cassettes. I would spend hours poring over the liner notes, the photos, the lyrics. Getting back into vinyl since opening the store has been wonderful. I have a rule where when I’m on shift at the shop I can buy records but have to buy one new artist for every classic older artist I buy. This way I keep diversifying my knowledge of new artists.
Who has been influential to you and your growth as a professional in this industry?
Our mate, the owner of Dutch Vinyl, was instrumental in sparking the idea that we could open and run a business at our ages (all 40 year old plus!). We have had to cobble together our knowledge as we go but were lucky that our resident musicians Erica and Kirsty knew a lot about the local music scene and emerging artists. Geographically local record stores and institutions such as Milk! Records and Poison City were obviously influential in our thinking too in admiring ventures that women-artists featured prominently in.
Anything else you’d like to add, if not tell us who you’re listening to right now: