2019 has swoops by, by the time we know it we will be in 2020.
Apologies if our communication been brief this year, lots has happened and we have barely enough time to catch our breath and then Christmas hits and now we need to farewell 2019.
For starter in early 2019, we were just recovering from axing previous employee as they were doing some fishy business behind our back, God bless them. But God did bless us too with new blood, for starters we had Cole Sale who filled in the shoe of the Lab and did an amazing job bringing us where we are as we come to the end of 2019.
Earlier this year during the summer, we were certainly not equipped with the amount of rolls there were coming in especially in January 2019 as a few staff were away and we often only have 1 person doing the front of house, camera, films sales as well as doing the lab after we closed at 6pm. Mike Liu was the one who been amazingly dedicated as Cole went away for holiday in mid Jan and myself and Wei Wei were still overseas, kudos to Mike, he held it all together. During the same time as well our beloved shop dog Headie passed away from a triple heart attack, sob…
In around Feb or March, another bright young graduate showed up, Timothy Treasure, relentless, not easily giving up, he picked up the job of scanning all the rolls and eventually grow from casual to part-time by the end of the year, knocking out a PB of scanning 123 rolls of films in a day shift.
Around the same time we picked up Raphaël Stradiot, who is also a Belgium and Cole’s best mate, with a ‘can do’ attitude he take over our social media and camera repairman role, for a period of roughly 9 months before he too finished his student visa and gone back to Belgium.
The blessing of running a film lab is that, we are actually catching the film wave, being in time with what the market is needing, however the lack of support definitely make things very chaotic. Thanks mainly to Mike Liu (a product designer) we had to learn on the job quickly. From not knowing how to do monthly machine maintenance to now being able to take a-part and clean 90% of the machine and mixing our own chemicals when supplier ran out of stock. We certainly came a long way.
Around march 2019, another recent smart graduate (double degree in finance and engineering) came into the shop. Holding a moon version of the anniversary Hasselblad camera from his grandad he knew nothing about camera at all (back then), but slowly he starts hanging out in FilmNeverDie’s Bourke Street shop, as he came in more and more, he is now an indispensable part of the team and the chap we talking about is Daniel Hidajat. Yes, you will see him a lot at front of house, always cheerful, patience and kind.
Then in May 2019 we got the ultimatum, the building has been sold and we needed to move out of the place in 2 weeks, initially we were betting on being able to stay while our current new shop been building and renovated, however the stake were too high , if the owner of Bourke st did not hand over the building to the new land lord as vacant possession. Oh well such is life, frantically we formulate a plan, a plan to communicate , a plan to retreat to some where temporary and then relaunch. However what was though to be a 1 month building project stretched to 4 months. The good thing is we have been testing out our secret weapon - Vendy, a humble looking second hand soft drinks and juice vending machine, with its dispenser wire stretch to accustomed various films and disposable camera, she is in business, covering the gap while we are away up north back in Parkville.
We moved Vendy outside to our new location at 6 Watertank way, in Melbourne CBD. While the shop was being build, we know we need to instil trust to our customer that we are not gone, or gone for along, but we are only in a temporary rebuild phase.
Since then, we are very happy to announced about 1500 of films has been sold and more than 600 rolls of films has been drop off via the Vends the film vending machine. What there is a Dropbox ? Yes there is. Boasting to be one fo the first full service films and camera vending machine in the world , you can literally buy and drop off films 24/7, in Melbourne CBD, next to Spenser Street station.
Then around the same time in May 2019 - we moved back to Parkville , luckily we have 2 garages one for retail and one for lab. ‘
In retrospect the timing could not be better although there we a 30% dropped in sales but hey it was also the winter season, meaning films, cameras and dev sales will drop anyway. Water off a duck feather, or as we say in Australia, she’s will be alright.
Off we launch on 17th of September 2019, we relaunch back to our new shop, back in the CBD, off Spenser street , half shop custom fit for camera and film sales and the other half for the lab. And on the 7th of November 2019 as the dust settled in our new shop, we did our ‘Planted the Day’ celebration, to commemorate that we will no long be moving, not at least for the next coming 8 years! We found a long term place for FilmNeverDie, so the bouncing around years are over!! Also, we decided to officially hire new blood to strengthen the team, mainly also because Cole and Raphaël finished their visa and now need to head back to Europe.
While we have 5 new member joining us, mainly to replace Cole and Raphaël but also to ensure we are no longer be caught out for the summer dev period (remember earlier in the aritcle ?) and also to take advantage of this period as many labs were shut during the summer. Hopefully we can gain a few more ground and show the market what we have to offer.
With a new strong team, well staff and well stocked shop, we are in no better position to welcome 2020, to welcome the new decade. Vision for 2020 you asked ? Continue to improve our processes , improve the quality of our services and products offering and also strengthening our lab robustness and let’s have a few more Vendy around Melbourne, if you know anyone that would like to have a film vending machine placed in outside their shop, let us know, we like to put at least 5 more vending machine with dropbox around Melbourne.
What’s else? More focus on people, being kinder, more patience, and more encouragement, with a sharp focus on buidling the team, and building a win-win situation with the staff and their personal goals too. With customer I personally, need to be more in the zone, be more present, less multitasking, and build a better experience on and offline. Giving myself and the team, more time to think and improve, to reflect and to always remind myself there is always sufficient grace to go around, as we take the time to do things right and do things properly (reduce rework).
We would like to continue to encourage you to be part of the conversation, the good, the bad and the ugly, please share your opinions (only then we can grow), with about 10 photo walks and about 3 exhibitions done through 2019, we like to play a bigger part in continue to be in the film community. Tell us how !
Til then, see you in 2020. Sincerely from the team, and I promise more open heart chat like this to come and we will continue to profile our new hire so you all can know who they are, thank you, our stakeholder and thank you 2019.
Oh to see all the highlights in photos and videos of 2019 go to:
See the 3 highlights named, Early, Mid and End 2019!
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