Business Desk Profile
Please read the original interview with Business Desk Journal here
In 2013, when Rose Hope and Sarah Firmston decided to open Crushes, a cosy boutique on Karangahape Road in Auckland with a focus on vintage and NZ-made items, they shook on the promise that regardless of the money made, they would only give up their business dream if they stopped having fun.
“We made a very rough business plan and did it on a handshake where we agreed that we would do this until we started making money and stopped having fun,” Hope says. “We didn't know we wouldn't make money for years, but we kept having fun. And here we are twelve years later.”
Hope and Firmston first met in 2010, when Hope was selling vintage clothes on Trademe and Firmston was a vintage enthusiast with a large collection of her own, and immediately bonded over their passion for vintage clothing and NZ-made goods. “At that time, craft markets were really big and so were twee things and very hand-crafted novelty items,” Hope says. “So, we thought, what if there was a market that was open 24/7? With handmade in NZ products displayed right next to vintage clothing. There was nothing like it and we wanted to be accessible, affordable and approachable.”
The best of local design
Fast forward to 2013, and the pair set up shop in Karangahape Road, supplying the best of local design alongside carefully curated vintage clothing sourced from around the country. Crushes sells goods from over 60 NZ suppliers and makers, both in-store and online and attaches stories to the price tags on all their items so customers can learn where and how the product was made and the story of how it turned up in Crushes’ store.
When asked to describe how she sums up what Crushes offers, Hope describes it as a “shop with heart” and a one-stop place to get presents for everyone in your family, no matter if it’s your uncle, niece or grandmother. “There is quite a lot of diversity of products within this space,” she says. “We’ve got pantry goods, books, candles, jewellery, sustainable aluminium-free glass deodorant, the list goes on.”
Hope says it’s amazing how quickly consumers' attitudes towards sustainability and supporting local kiwi businesses have changed over the last couple of years and credits the pandemic to causing that. “Overnight, when we went into that first lockdown and everyone's business was up in the air, the country realised how important it was to support local,” she says. "A big part of our job used to be canvassing our message and why it's important to shop at NZ businesses and we just haven't done it for the last year because people get it now.”
Hope says the pandemic was strangely a career highlight as it showed them how much “amazing” support they had from their customer base, as well as the government.
This year, however, has been tough for the business, as peoples' purse strings have shrunk while the cost of living has risen. “I'm a bit of a nihilist at the moment,” Hope says. “I feel like this year's been a slog. With the cost of living at the point where lettuce is $8, why would you buy my $35 candle?” “We just want to keep our heads down and keep going until we hopefully see a better economy.” Hope says celebrating ten years in business at the end of 2021 made herself and Firmston reflective of what the last decade has thrown at them.
“My highlights are working with various inspiring women throughout the years, our staff, and key customers,” she says. “If we can keep changing mindsets with what we’re doing – that's something that I’m really looking forward to for the future.”