Australia Fashion Journal
Link to the original interview here // WORDS BY IZZY WIGHT
“We wanted to combine locally-made products with vintage for a guilt-free shopping experience.”
New Zealand creatives Rose Hope and Sarah Firmston met in 2010, a time before social media and eCommerce dominated the retail landscape. Bonded over their love of fashion, vintage treasures and all things NZ-made, the pair opened their ethical Auckland concept store, Crushes, in 2011.
Over a decade later and Crushes – loved for its cosy interiors, curated clothing and homewares collection and always-welcoming aura – has felt a myriad of industry ebbs and flows. “I can safely say that the whole 11-year journey has been a learning curve and every time the industry changes, we change with it,” Rose says. “… The beginning of lockdown was very scary to navigate, but our community embraced and supported us which was very validating and encouraging.”
Nestled among the bars, bookstores and restaurants of Karangahape Road, Crushes has built a loyal community of people looking for “a guilt-free shopping experience”. Stocking a colourful array of products from over 60 New Zealand-made businesses (not to mention “racks-on-racks” of vintage clothing), Crushes offers an intimate, value-based shopping experience. Below, Rose reflects on the store’s humble beginnings.
Tell me a bit about how the vision for Crushes came about.
We started our shop in 2011, long before ‘ethical concept stores’ and even the phrase ‘conscious consumerism’! We wanted to combine locally-made products with vintage pieces for a guilt-free shopping experience that offered curated items for home and wardrobe. It’s grown into a huge community with other passionate consumers who love looking cute while being mindful about how they shop.
How would you describe your store’s aesthetic?
Crushes is colourful, full of over 60 New Zealand-made businesses and racks-on-racks of vintage. Because of the quality, it’s a really great tactile experience of different mediums and textiles. It’s clean, organised and because of our fan-favourite candles, always smells like a dream! So, it really is a treat for all senses.
What was the process like putting the store together and were there any challenges or roadblocks along the way?
My business partner Sarah and I knew nothing about business, [and] so much has happened since 2011 (like social media and the domination of eCommerce). So I can safely say that the whole 11-year journey has been a learning curve and every time the industry changes, we change with it! I think, in particular, the beginning of lockdown was very scary to navigate, but our community embraced and supported us which was very validating and encouraging.
Who did Crushes collaborate with when bringing the store to life?
When we first began, we partnered with a handful of makers and vintage sellers who would swap their time for full profit of their products. They would use their shift to make their inventory while also processing sales for us. It was crucial for us to get off the ground as we had no investment and still worked other part-time jobs to make ends meet.
What’s your favourite feature/area of the store?
We have our own in-house brand that sells all things from jewellery, candles, stationery, etc… that has been a real career highlight that we can also participate in being creatives. There is a real risk when putting our own design out there, and a real joy when it is embraced by the public. This brings us a lot of pride as well as satisfaction.
What do you like about the area/the Auckland creative scene in general?
There are so many pockets of different people who express themselves so differently… it’s great that we have a hub that can cover all kinds of bases. There really is something for everyone at Crushes, whether you like witchy, holistic things, a chic, minimalist look or a thrashy, street look.