Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you started Found Store.
So, I have worked with second-hand clothing for a really long time, almost ten years, and before that I worked for Glassons for nearly 5 years…
That's a very long stretch in retail!
It's really crazy to think actually!
I've kind of always wanted to open my own store and I love talking to people. I see retail as an opportunity to make friends, so socially it's great. [Opening a shop] was always a dream of mine and then my partner’s sister, who is an interior designer (Ann-Maree, my business partner) became obsessed with op-shopping about two years ago, especially homewares, and I was so glad to have another friend who was so into it.
Then one day she was like "how amazing would it be if we opened a store?". I’m the type of person who likes to have everything set in place and a good plan before I do anything but then she was just like "let's just do it!” And I was like "yeah, ok?". Then we put it off and just talked about it for a really long time. We first talked about going online, which we planned to launch this year, then COVID-19 happened and luckily for us a space opened up in Riverbank Lane in Hamilton which is really cool and we were like "just stuff it!". That's what's really great about our partnership, it's a great balance. I'm a bit fearful of things like that and Ann-Marie really goes for it.
Sometimes you need that kickstart!
Yeah definitely! So, we have a mix of vintage homewares, new homewares and a lot of giftware. At the moment we're taking on a lot of new brands. With the brands we do take on, we ensure we know where their stuff is coming from. We like it to be made or based in New Zealand or Australia, well-made, ethically-made, sustainably made. These are all things that we focus on in our store, but we're not perfect. At the start we thought of branding ourselves as a sustainable store, but I think these days you kind of open yourself up to really being knocked down if you do. I think it should be normal not to have to put that in your tagline. You should already be shopping local, supporting local makers and creators, going into shops in your local city and finding out about new designers.
We have a brand of glass blown tumblers in our store and people are obsessed. It's so cool to see, and he [Keith Grinter] is so stoked that we keep messaging him wanting more and more. It's great, because he deserves that acknowledgement and I think just take taking it out of his space, which is a gallery space, and into our retail space and styling it helps to reach a few more people.
They are so beautiful! My colleague and I were mesmerised by them the other day!
They are so cool!
But yeah, that's kind of what Found is. We have a lot of different price ranges, we want everyone to come in and be able to find something. For me, it's also important to have a cool community of people. I love being back on the floor because I don't get to do that a lot with my job. It's great getting to know people and showing them different brands. We also have a lot of creative friends doing amazing stuff or people that I've seen and I'm like “wow, that's a really cool label!" and they just needed a space to share it. Yes, online is great, but I think there's still so much value in a physical store and being able to chat to someone. A lot of people are confident in their style. I would say you are because you've worked in retail, and I am the same. I know what I like, I know what I think is cool, and I'm confident with what I wear. But there are some people that really do still need that one-on-one. So rather than them going a fast-fashion store (which I totally get is the only option for some people and I'd never shame them for that), it's cool being able to expose people who are able to spend a bit more money, to put their money into something like this, to know where it's coming from.
Have any of your experiences with Recycle Boutique, which obviously has a strong environmental ethos behind it, inspired any of your moves?
Yeah, definitely! When I was younger, we wouldn't go shopping often. You'd go shopping for a new season, maybe get some new jeans and a jumper and some long-sleeve tops, but that was it. So as soon as I got a part-time job I was straight into second-hand shopping. It wasn't really cool back then, well kinda cool, like in the David Bain jumper phase haha, but I'm glad now that the stigma is gone. Especially working with Recycle [Boutique], it's insane to see the amount of clothing that is out there and circulating. For example, in our Hamilton store, the stock line is constantly sitting over a month. That's with us pricing over 200 items a day, we're pushing out that much! We're turning away stuff as well, because we pre- sort things on the floor. We’re giving stuff to charities and giving things away because we have to streamline and have some kind of quality control. But it's cool to see other places are starting things. Found is exclusively vintage, but I know of other places in Cambridge that are opening. There's so much room for more because it's everywhere. I'm kind of hoping that people will think "could I re-sell this?" when they shop. If you think you can get a seasons wears out of it and it's still cool enough to resell, then I think it is worth it. There's nothing wrong with reselling and there's nothing wrong with keeping forever.
Yeah, that's definitely my new mindset! I either buy really good quality that I know I'll have forever, or second-hand, and I think that is an evolving mindset. So, are you accepting stock into your store or are you exclusively going out and finding it yourselves?
No, we just kind of get it from here, there and everywhere. Myself and Ann-Maree have been collecting for about two years, since we started talking about it. Mostly just really, really nice things that we see at markets. We do charge a premium for the vintage, because where can you find this again? We go out and search, we’ve got some good relationships with people that let us know if they find things, and we also look online on places like TradeMe - everywhere!
Cool! And what would you say is your unique selling proposition, what makes Found different from all of the other businesses out there with a similar nature?
I'd say, maybe more specifically geographically to Hamilton, that we offer a bit more of an eclectic style. Say with our logo, it's pretty bright, it's pretty orange. We thought "do we?" and then we were just like "f**k it!” haha! Like, if people don't like it, they're probably not going to like Found. If you’re a punchy person and you're like "ooh, that's kinda cool!" or "that's kinda funky!” you’ll love Found - we love people who want to have a bit of fun! We noticed that everything at the moment was neutral and minimalistic. I understand the eclectic 70’s/80’s style is coming back in, but we were like, we just don't want to be like everyone else. We've been like that as individuals too - we don't want to look like other people, we want our house to be a little bit different, and we want our customers to find that stuff in Found. Also, just a fun place where there's always going to be fun stuff and new people - new designers and creators.
I love that, that is so me. I can't wait to come and visit!
And what would you say is your long-term goal from this, or even your shorter term plans/goals?
We'd like to open up online definitely and then we'd like to go bigger and have a larger space. At the moment it's kind of like a pop-up type space and we'd love to hold furniture. We’ve got some amazing pieces sitting that we could definitely fill a store with. When we first opened we were like it's going to look like one of those weird pop-ups that people come to and they're like "so…is it all sold out, or?". Then when we put stuff in there we were like, that's not the problem, it's the other way round!
Would you look at expanding around the country at all or do you plan to just keep it in Hamilton?
I haven't even thought about that! That would be amazing! I think we'd like to go bigger here, that's why we picked Hamilton. We considered The Mount because I worked there a little bit and we've got family there, but the Mount has so many cool stores and Hamilton just doesn't have many. They've got a lot of boutiques, but they're all very similar. That's what's so great about Hamilton, there's so much room for cool stuff to go down! If anyone's looking for a great space to open an eatery or something, come to Hamilton! Plug the Tron, don't knock it haha!
Have you been affected much by the COVID situation?
So, we did our business plan the last week of COVID. We built the brand and then we were like let's just do it! Then we opened about 2.5, 3 months later. Overall it didn't really affect us. I think it affected us in the way that it made people realise that they don't need that much and we came in at a time where supporting local was the focus.
So do you think that has benefitted you?
Yeah, for sure! We are really lucky (touch wood). I think it's the same with Recycle Boutique.
You touched on how you'd like to go online… moving forward, is that something you will focus on considering the future of retail and the tendency to shop online more and more. How do you plan to manage that in the sense that people might be focused more on that online space rather than coming in store?
It's definitely something that is in the works, we're just finalising stuff now. It was important to us that people knew us and our brand first so that we could establish that relationship. I think that when we first opened, a lot of people probably thought “they don't really know what they're doing”, which is fine.
It's cool that you just bit the bullet and went for it!
Yeah we kind of just came out of nowhere. We didn't want to come across as 'too cool', like only 'alty' people shop here. Found is not like that at all. It's more so, come check it out, you might find something that you like!
And I'm so like that, I hate people who think they're cooler than other people, it's just not the sh*t. I wanted to do this first so we were sure that we have a bit of a following first.
And have you found that people have been receptive to Found so far?
Yeah! Because you never know, you get so into it and then realise "shit, we’re opening!". We like it, is anyone else going to like it? Feedback to our face so far has been great!
Cool! So do you have any personal goals? What's your ultimate goal, say where you see yourself in 20 years time? (Is that too forward thinking haha?)
I would just love to travel for Found. I would love to be able to go and meet people and makers, although still supporting NZ creators, I'd love to go and buy. That would be my dream, buying for my store, and also Ann-Maree and I would love to have our own line of clothing one day.
That would be amazing! And would you incorporate that into the same space?
Yeah, definitely. Just because we're into it and there's things that we could incorporate, like second-hand fabric and stuff. I know it's a lot of work and it's definitely a long away goal but we’d love to do something like that!
Yeah, that would be amazing and it would be cool if you'd already established a following and support to build off!
Cool and a couple more personal questions… What is your favourite part of New Zealand?
You're making me crave summer!
Yeah, and I love the op-shopping!
Ooh, I didn't know there was good op-shopping in Thames!
Yeah, it's a good one! Don't put it on the there [the blog] haha!
Everyone will go and steal all of the good finds and Found Store will be left bare, haha!
Do you have any favourite NZ brands at the moment?
I love 'Layplan'. It’s two girls that studied in Wellington. They do really bright stuff, super puffy sleeves - I love a sleeve! They were kind of doing the sleeve before it was cool. I love their stuff!
You said you store vintage items, but you also mentioned you stock new stuff, do you stock both vintage and new clothing as well as homewares?
Yes, so we also stock another (very cool) brand called Main Project that's created by Lizzie over at the Mount. I'd say at the moment we're kind of in the works of getting a couple on board. Another really cool brand is one my friend in Auckland has just started is called "Blue + Blue" and we sell her pillowcases at Found. She does linens and silk pillow cases and it's all made from naturally plant-based dye, so super cool, I love what she does! She makes a lot of her pillowcases from second-hand fabrics as well.
It's so cool to see this whole circularity concept coming into play at the moment.
Yeah, and in the mainstream too! It doesn't all have to be super earthy, I find that intimidating because I still want to consume. I love buying clothes. It makes it a bit more accessible.
Yeah, I've even noticed the likes of Glassons using recycled materials. It's cool that the small brands have kind of catalysed a bigger movement. Hopefully that only continues and becomes the new norm!
Yeah, hopefully! And I love Isle of Eden! There's kind of no sunglasses brands that have the sustainability aspect or use materials like Isle of Eden does. It was an easy pick! We were like, we need to email them! Because it shouldn't be that hard, but it wasn't actually hard, it was like tick, tick, tick, easy!
Yeah, how did you find out about us?
Ann-Maree has the Felina’s!
So do I!
I really want to get them in, but they're sold out, or they're coming? But she looks so cool in them and everyone I see in them I'm like "you look so cool!".
Yeah that's what I love - not having to compromise style for
sustainability and affordability!
Check out the Found store in Hamilton