An idea is born
The idea was born when the news broke about the horrific wildfires in Greece in July… the middle of our winter, and the long hot European summer, and the worst wildfires in over 10 years. My friends Ellie and Pep are sisters, and they are the founders of Penny Marathon. Over a meal and a glass of wine one night, the Sunday Sessions were kindled.
The idea was nutted out… hire the Stirrup Gallery in the Addison Road Community Centre and create a chill out studio for the day, schedule 12 15-minute photo sessions with 100% of the $50 session fee being donated to Penny Marathon so they could continue to help animals in need… especially the ones recovering from the wildfires in Greece.
Planning the event
I’ve written this blog partly to share the amazing dogs we met through the Sunday Sessions, but also to help others who may be thinking of organising a fundraiser themselves, or those interested in how an event like this becomes a reality. If you aren’t interested in details, you can skip straight down to the photos 🙂 if you are interested, read on here.
Step 1 was to hire the gallery… and thankfully it was available for the date we wanted… tick.
Step 2 was to find a lounge to fulfil my vision of a chill out lounge style of set. I searched online and on foot. To hire a lounge for just one day was going to cost me over $400 with delivery and pickup… so that idea was nonsensical. I tried to find one on Gumtree but there was nothing that fitted my vision. Then when I was almost out of time, I had just visited the Addison Road Community Centre to check out Reverse Garbage and The Bower… both had a lounge, but neither were suitable for this event… so I called into the Salvos on the way home. As I walked through the showroom, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There it was, an amazing chill out style 3 seater white leather lounge… and in excellent condition. The biggest surprise though, was the price. It was on sale. It was…. $50! I thought that can’t be right, so I asked one of the shop assistants and he explained that it had been there over a month now and they had to move it on to make room. Well, wasn’t it my lucky day hey! I went out front and sat in my car on the phone to my brother… trying to find a way to make this happen. He could loan me his ute and we could store it under his house. That was enough of a solution for now, so I went back in and I bought it.
I had a couple of days to get my act together before I had to pick up my lounge from Salvos. It’s amazing when pressure sets in, how much you can get done and how much you can learn. I was conscious of how much time and inconvenience there would be if we stuck to the original plan of borrowing my brother’s ute and storing the lounge under his house. How would I clean the lounge and do the marketing photos if it was stored under a house 20 minutes away? And how much stress will be under getting up super early to collect the lounge from under the house and take it to the gallery early on the day of Sunday Sessions? The thought of this gave me anxiety so I remembered that they guy at the Salvos said we could hire a GoGet van from Ikea. I’d never even considered GoGet as I’d never needed to hire a vehicle except when on holidays in another state or country. I jumped online late that night and started looking into it. Turns out I could set up a business account with them and simply use one of their vans when I needed. We did this and it turns out it was the perfect solution.
Putting my very limited marketing skills to the test
With the gallery booked and the lounge organised, it was now time to start working on actually telling everyone about this awesome event. I planned to do 12 sessions over the course of the day, so I now needed to make sure we booked those 12 spots. I jumped into my trusty Canva account and started to play… and from there came up with all the marketing materials for the inaugural Sunday Sessions. But of course, I needed photos. How could I possibly sell the idea of these sessions without being able to show people what kind of photos they would be having taken of their dog.
The Marketing Shoot
A month to the day before Sunday Sessions, I set up a home studio… with the lounge and an array of Penny Marathon handmade colourful rugs, and a backdrop of fabric in line with the colour I was planning to use which matched my branding. Neal and I and the #3dogkateers live in a little cottage in Kogarah… with no way to section off a studio from the rest of the house. So the lounge room it was!
First up … Ellie and Pep the founders of Penny Marathon, arrived with their three babes… Artemis, Ajax and Gus. All big dogs to show how cool big dogs could be when in chill out mode on the lounge. Turns out Gus is a bit of a ham… a natural at modelling and he ended up having his photo published on Broadsheet when they promoted the event.
Then the changeover… Ellie and Pep took their three home and in came the #3dogkateers. Our own three little munchkins. Neal had taken them to the park while the Penny Marathon dogs were having their shoot, so they ran back into the house wondering how all the new dog smells had got there.
The photos became the foundation for the marketing campaign for the big day.
The marketing worked a treat… over the period of about 2 weeks, all 12 sessions were fully booked! That meant $600 for Penny Marathon!
The Big Day
We arrived (Ellie, Pep, Neal and I) bright and early to set up the studio. Most of the work we’d done the night before during the bump in, but we wanted to make sure everything was perfect. The Penny Marathon handmades market looked absolutely stunning and Pep’s cakes drew a crowd outside the gallery. We had visits from Kerri and Sarah from Sydney Animal Second-Chance Inc with their adoptables Findlay and Jaffa, and we had all the adoptable profiles from Sutherland Shire Council Animal Shelter pinned to the A-frames. The organic markets were on at the Addison Road Community Centre that day, so the whole place was buzzing.
The Class of 2018
The first booking of the day was a no-show… no problem as they’d already paid! Little Findlay got to take their place and have fresh adoption portraits taken… he got adopted a few weeks later. Then at the very end of the day, we got a walk-in… little Coco and her Mum Roula turned up in hope that they could be squeezed in, which of course they could… how could I say no? So all up we made $650 for Penny Marathon! Coco was a star, as were the other amazing little stars for the Class of 2018. Mixed in we had another two rescue dogs apart from Findlay who came along and received fresh adoption portraits… Jaffa and Mindy. All 15 dogs are her for your viewing pleasure. If you’d like to see more photos, you can view their video’s on Youtube.
A BIG SHOUT OUT!
I’d like to thanks all the amazing people who helped make this day possible…
Ellie and Pep of course… founders of Penny Marathon and a great pair of big hearts who are awesome to collaborate with
Neal, my amazingly supportive husband
Joanne, my trusty dog-wrangler/assistant for the day
Zoe for her support with the Penny Marathon market and helping us in the studio section also, including helping Neal, Ellie, Pep andI with getting that lounge back into the van at the end of the day!
Last, but not least, all the wonderful people who booked their dogs in and turned up on the day! It was such a pleasure to meet you all and take photos of your cherished dogs.
If you missed out on booking your dog in to this year’s inaugural Sunday Sessions… you can sign up here to make sure you are the first to know when the 2019 Sunday Sessions are scheduled.
As I finish writing this blog, I have one final artwork delivery to make tomorrow morning… to Crumpet’s family. I think they’ll also be pretty chuffed to see their little bubba feature in Emlyn’s video…
Now you’ve made it to the end of this post, check out this amazing video wrap-up of the day created and produced by the amazing Emlyn Crockett…
Thank you Em!