Behind the scenes of The Block

We chat to Harrie Colella, The Block Popup Shop Manager

We chat to Harrie Colella, The Block Popup Shop Manager

My journey began with The Block Shop in early January 2018, after receiving a message from Block Shop co-founder, Sarah Armstrong, and Design School teacher (and former block contestant Jenna Densten), both suggesting I strongly consider a new job opportunity. I was correcting grade 2 spelling tests at the time and almost fell off my chair, unable to focus for the rest of the day, I was so excited! It was a no brainer- I HAD to take the gig, even though I had no idea what the gig was- ha! I decided to put my job on hold as a primary school teacher for the upcoming year, as I had just completed a certificate IV at Design School in Abbotsford and knew an offer like this was rare and highly sought after for Design graduates.


I had NO idea what I was in for or what my new job even entailed, but I was wide-eyed and keen to delve into any task given. Having been a long time fan of the television show (The Block), I was SUPER excited to be apart of it all and soak up any experience possible. I soon learned that 2018 was the first year that The Block Shop was set to open a pop up store opposite new block in St Kilda, and I would quickly need to source enough stock to fill a shop!


Setting up the pop up store began only three and a-half weeks prior to launch night. Its purpose was to showcase a small percentage of the great products that were stocked in the online store, and give local artists a platform for contestants to see their work. I had to job of contacting suppliers and ordering enough products to fill a very large, (still under construction) shop. I wanted to source eccentric and quirky items that would suit the Gatwick perfectly. The fast paced work environment was unfamiliar and something I quickly leaned to keep up with. Much like a frantic Sunday morning on The Block, the 24 hours leading up to launch night was a rush to the finish line, swiftly unpacking boxes with trinkets of all sorts, hanging art and deliberating the all important cushion placement in-store. 


The launch night was a huge success, contestants old and new came to check out the shop and sink a champaz or two. The common consensus was not only that this will be perfect to style new Gatwick, but also just what Fitzroy Street was missing. The next day, we were open for business! Whilst the show was in production my main focus was to assist contestants in getting our amazing products into their apartments. The shop was always full of people and a really fun place to be in, between the crew, contestants, sales assistants and suppliers -we were working at a million miles a minute. Saturday afternoons were always the most frantic, having contestants making last minute purchases, soon becoming very tight-knit with this years bunch, as they knew they could con me into keeping the shop open until 7pm! The long hours and endless hustlin’ were well worth it, as this season will see a record amount of Block Shop products used in the styling of The Gatwick.


The Block was in production for 12 weeks and week-by-week, the Block Shop team and myself were always ecstatic when hearing that our products featured in a room reveal of a Sunday. For me, my FAVOURITE job was calling supplier and delivering them the good news that their product/s will be seen on this season of Block. The Block Shop pride ourselves on stocking the shop with many small Australian businesses that are always overjoyed and grateful knowing their work will be seen on such a large platform. 


The weeks after filming wrapped up were strange. The twelve-week hustle and bustle was over in what seemed like an instant and the shop was oddly calm and still. I felt like a retired empty nester, having had my children (the contestants) move out of home and not need me anymore! I would call and send messages like “How is life?” and “What are you up to? I miss you!” When they come and visit I whack them and say “Why don’t you come and visit me anymore? “After I had gotten over my fleeing “children”, my focus was back on getting the shop ship-shape for while the show is on air. We are hoping to have lots of visitors to both the Gatwick across the road and the shop! I have been busy ordering lots of products and artworks that will feature on the show for our soon to be customers. We are waiting in anticipation for Sunday, August 5th- our air date! I can’t WAIT to share this amazing series with everyone, it’s the best one yet! You can follow the fun on Instagram

-Harrie x