TURNING TABLES – Suffragette Records + Feminista Vinyl

Suffragette Records
Lauren Carter & Oberon Carter
Position: Store Owner & Preloved Record Scout, respectively.

Feminista Vinyl
Name: Kirsty
Position: Co-Founder and Vollie at Feminista Vinyl

Tell us a little bit about your store? When did it open and what’s the story behind your name?

Suffragette Records – We opened just over 6 months ago, in August 2022. Our range celebrates music by women and applies an environmental ethic of treating records like heirloom items made to last across generations. You’ll find new and preloved records side by side, and across eras and genres of music.

We were throwing a few names around, but when we walked into our tiny shop space, in an Edwardian building in Battery Point, we got to thinking about the invention of the vinyl record, and of women fighting for the right to vote, which were happening in around the same era as the building was constructed. The women’s suffrage movement (although varied in approach and by location), helped raise the voices of many women through writing, art, music, media and politics. And they were pretty badass, like many of the women in our catalogue. So the name Suffragette Records stuck.

Feminista Vinyl – Feminista Vinyl (FV) is a record store specialising in female-led, trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming inclusive bands and artists. It’s also an intimate performance space that hosts gigs and live music opportunities for the local Coburg community. FV shares the premises with a feminist counseling service, and has a small space in the back for hire by community groups and artists.

It was a bit of a bumpy start for Feminista Vinyl as we signed the lease JUST before COVID hit. An empty shop front sat there for almost two years before we could finally get the ball rolling and open up for real!  We wanted it to be obvious that our shop was a not for profit run by feminists – all volunteers so Feminista Vinyl was always going to be our name.

What inspired you to open and run a record store?

Suffragette Records –
We both shared a love of music when we first met (many years ago!). Lauren grew up around the music industry and Oberon was a musician, and we both inherited our parents’ record collections. In recent years, Lauren gradually drifted towards listening to mostly music by women, and recognised that there’s huge inequality in the music industry. In recent reports, music by women makes up around 25% of popular music, while female songwriters make up only 12% and female producers make up less than 3% of the industry today. We thought it’d be cool to shine a light on the excellent contributions women make to the music industry, and see what a shop that celebrates music by women would look like.

Feminista Vinyl –
A conversation about feeling intimidated by male-dominated record shops spawned the idea for a shop. Someone joked about starting a record shop specialising in music by non-male artists. From there, hasty and excited WhatsApp messages began circulating, as the six plotted over cups of tea to bring Feminsta Vinyl to life.

What is it like running a store in nipaluna (Hobart)/Naarm (Melbourne)?

Suffragette Records (nipaluna) –
We’re having a lovely time! Our shop is located in a fairly touristy spot, so we have people visiting from all over the world. Some make a point of visiting after seeing us on social media, and some happen upon us by chance. We have a pretty small population here in nipaluna, compared to other capital cities, but the local community have been so friendly and supportive. It’s just a general all-round great vibe and it’s a pleasure to turn up to work each week.

Feminista Vinyl (Naarm) – The thing that stands out most is the customers! It really is such a beautifully strong community. We’ve gotten to know our lovely regulars, and it’s more of a hang and a chat than just a simple transaction.

As well as a retail record show, we also run semi-regular events with more performance opportunities are on the horizon.  FV’s popular open mic events are a safe, approachable space for emerging performers and audience members – where everyone is welcome just as they are.

Tell us about your team? Who are the faces that greet us when we walk through the doors and who is working away behind the scenes?

Suffragette Records – We’re a woman-owned family business, and our three daughters work in the shop, alongside us. Lauren works on design, customer service and stocking new records. Oberon, who works in the shop in his spare time, sources our preloved records, cleans, repairs and grades them, while serving customers. Audrey works with us on our social media, serving customers in the store and running errands. Xanthe helps list preloved records and serves customers. Maisie’s only 12 years old, so she works for pocket money, stickering records and zapping the barcode scanner. All of us contribute to the selection of records in the store.

Feminista Vinyl – We are a group of six women and non binary folk who run the Feminsta Vinyl space. Five of the six have a shared background working in women’s services, while two of the group bring experience as working musicians and teachers. We are all volunteers with shared interests, values and a similar mindset is what brought everyone – and keeps everyone – together.

What is the best thing about running a record store that celebrates such a wide variety of inclusive bands, music, and artists?

Suffragette Records – We love people’s positive reactions when they walk into the space. We’ve worked to make the space warm and inviting, like a comfy lounge room you can take your time in. We find that celebrating music by women means we can include records that might not feature as prominently in your regular store. It means people are finding artists they’ve not heard of, or reconnecting with artists they’ve forgotten about. We also love helping customers just starting their record collections, and looking for a recommendation; or looking for a particular record and tracking it down for them. We’re particularly loving the number of young women getting into collecting and listening to vinyl, and families getting into it all together.

Feminista Vinyl – Too many to choose, but discovering new artists locally and around the globe, meeting new people, witnessing the generosity of established artists who are prepared to help push along our little shop and the sense of community is pretty awesome.

Any funny or favourite stories?

Suffragette Records –
We occasionally have people wandering in looking for family history info on an ancestor who was a suffragist, or perhaps musical recordings by suffragettes – which is a pretty niche idea! They’re usually pleasantly surprised (although a little confused), when they get in the door and understand we’re selling vinyl records. Also, legend has it that another tiny shopfront in our building sold leather goods in the ‘80’s and Annie Lennox bought a pair of bright red, lace-up boots there!

Feminista Vinyl – One of our first open mic shows (which was absolutely packed) had a band of young teenagers doing one of their first ever shows, followed by a women in her 50’s who was also doing one of her first shows.  The support, encouragement and love in the room proved that FV is a special place and more than just a shop.

Outside of your store, where is your favourite store or do you remember where you purchased your first single, album, or EP?

Suffragette Records – We grew up in Melbourne, so spent many hours trawling the shelves for CD’s at Gaslight, Basement Discs and Greville Records. Lauren lived around the corner from Pet Sounds, which happened to be run by a family friend. She remembers buying her first cassette with her own money there at around 11 years old – Womack & Womack’s ‘Conscience’.

Feminista Vinyl – The first cassette I bought with my own money was Ian Moss’s cassingle of Tuckers Daughter from Brashs in Parkmore!

Do you have a favourite album from an Australian artist? Happy to hear all the team’s faves.

Suffragette Records – Current faves, as voted by the team and getting most regular airtime in the store right now include Julia Jacklin’s ‘Crushing’, Stella Donnelly’s ‘Flood’, ‘Crossover’ by Emma Donovan and The Putbacks and ‘The Warning Birds’ by locals, EWAH and The Vision of Paradise.

Feminista Vinyl – So many! We love Hannah Blackburn’s new one, Merpire’s ‘Simulation Ride’ barely leaves the decks at the shop, Sampa gets a lot of spins too!

Tell us about your favourite artist, and what record of theirs you’d recommend to introduce to someone who’s never heard of them.

Suffragette Records – Ok, that’s impossible to answer, but we’ll have a go with some faves!
Lauren: Laura Marling, ‘Song For Our Daughter’.
Oberon: Joni Mitchell, ‘Court & Spark’.
Audrey: Phoebe Bridgers, ‘Punisher’.
Xanthe: Beabadoobee, ‘Beatopia’.
Maisie: Billie Eilish, ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?”

Feminista Vinyl – Our shrine to the Clouds will soon make an appearance at the shop, so without a doubt – Penny Century. It’s a fave album of all time for many of us!

It’s the morning of Record Store Day, what are you spinning as the doors open?

Suffragette Records – An absolute store favourite is ‘Piece Of Me’ by Lady Wray. It’s the first record that was spinning as the doors opened on our very first day of trading. It always gets a positive reaction from customers, and puts people at ease. We’ve sold quite a few copies while playing it instore!

Feminista Vinyl – The most popular release last record store day was the Bluey Soundtrack and since we like to encourage a family friendly dig, we’ll start with that. It’s a beautiful soundtrack!

Keep up to date with Suffragette Records and Feminista Vinyl.