Maker Port Douglas —

The ethical homewares store that’s a must visit in Port Douglas

The ethical homewares store that’s a must visit in Port Douglas
Nothing says "let's give it a go" than starting a physical retail shop when you're 18, and that's exactly what Raine Ward did. Read her story below.
May 28, 2024 — 4 min read
The ethical homewares store that’s a must visit in Port Douglas

About this business

Business Type

Retail Locations: 1


Port Douglas,
QLD, Australia
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From working as a freelance photographer since she was 14 to studying film, Raine Ward was in the middle of her degree when COVID shut everything down. With few people seeking photography services and the film industry on hiatus, Raine moved back home to Port Douglas QLD and decided to channel her creative energy elsewhere.

“We really felt for the local artisans who really relied on that Sunday trade, because they had nowhere to sell all their things. So why don’t we get a space where we can support them?” says Raine. “We’ll have a few of their things, we’ll have mum’s artwork, and I can offer my photography services from there.”

After an enquiry to a local business owner, she now had a three year rental on a shop, no idea what she was doing, and a big fit out on her hands. And she was just 18 at the time. “I just said, ‘let’s have a go.’”

Six weeks later, Maker Port Douglas was opened.

Made slower to last longer

Maker was born not just from a desire to support local makers, but a passion for sustainable, locally made goods. Souvenirs and homewares that have been crafted ethically and locally – a far cry from a lot of the souvenir shops in Port Douglas.

I’ve always believed we all have the power to change the world based on what we buy. ”

Raine Ward Owner, Maker Port Douglas

“Everyone wants to take home a souvenir. Why not make sure that it is eco-friendly, or sourced from a person who is either doing it locally, in Australia or ethically? When you buy from a maker, you are buying more than just the piece. It’s the days, weeks, months of dedication, frustration and pure joy invested by the artist as well as their conscious decision to choose materials that won’t destroy the natural world around them.”

The Point of Sale that fits with the store

Everything in Maker has a certain aesthetic; a vibe. And Raine knew the exact point of sale and payments tool that would work for her store – the Square Reader. “I’m all about aesthetics and I thought the system was very appealing. I read all the reviews,” says Raine. “If we had to move the Reader around or take it with us anywhere that we could.”

Raine also knew there were more features there, should Maker grow (which it did). “I didn’t want an online store when I first started, but I knew that there was an option there. At least if I go with Square, then they can offer me a website and I can do that down the track.” She soon adopted the Square Register with a customer display as well as a main screen for more transparent transactions.

Port Douglas’s main industry is tourism, and when it was hit with cyclones in 2023, the town’s access was closed off and water was shut down, meaning tourists were turned away. It’s during weeks like these where Raine is grateful to have started her online store with Square in 2021. “If people aren’t coming into town, you can still rely on that.” With inventory that is the same as her in-store inventory, everything stays in sync. “Lots of locals order online knowing they can pick it up in store, or we’ll deliver to them for free.”

A prime location

As the store grew, a new opportunity opened up in 2023 – a shop right in the center of town, across the road from the main supermarket. “Opening this store was more daunting than opening the first store because I knew what I was going into,” says Raine. “I was a couple of years older and knew that I needed to make enough money to run it.”

Nevertheless, she fitted out the store (double the size of her first one), and opened the new Maker in December 2023 with a studio for mum to paint out the back. And of course, it still has the same values as the previous one, with goods that are made slower to last longer.

“I guess I really value a personal connection with things, whether that be in a social sense or where you purchasing your products from. I think it’s important because everything’s so digital now. We put a couch in our store to encourage people to sit and chat, evoking a sense of simplicity away from the constant barrage of notifications.”

More functionality for a growing store

As the store evolved and grew, so did their need for more complex point of sale functionality. Raine adopted Square for Retail Plus, letting her manage her various makers (vendors) and giving her more in depth Inventory data. “I wanted to run more reports and keep a closer eye on our margins.”

Raine has also adopted Square’s printable barcodes – “Best thing ever. We didn’t have barcodes before and we were losing track of so much stock. We used to handwrite price tags and I just feel like it was a little bit unprofessional. I now print out barcodes for everything regardless if it’s got an existing one or not.”

And now with more people working in the store (not just Raine and her mum), she uses Square’s Team Management for rostering.

The girls [her staff] will have Square Team on their phone now and it’ll notify them when their shift is going to start and to clock in or clock out.”

Raine Ward Owner, Maker Port Douglas

Staying creative

Raine still uses her photography skills, creating content for Maker’s Instagram, and collaborating with local Airbnb’s. “I’ll curate a gallery of photos and social media content, and in exchange they’ll allow me to style their property for a whole day.” And with more space in the shop, they have started running paint and sip workshops after hours. 

With a love for Port Douglas and the surrounding area, there are plenty of stories there that Raine wants to tell. What could be better than combining her study of film with her passion for sustainable products?

“I’m very proud of Far North Queensland and to have grown up here. So I’d love to be able to intertwine my personal love for the area with our products and where they’re from. I’d love to get back to making films about our makers.”


All photos by Daniel Boud

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