Charlie Renaud for Sweet Home Magazine
This is an excerpt from local publication Sweet Home Magazine about our inspiring, and darling manager Charlie Renaud. You may have met her in your journey with Crushes. She is our hands and feet that keeps all the wheels turning. In this interview you will hear about her journey with us, and her conscious consumerism journey. You can get your hands on this fab magazine here at Crushes.
Could you talk me through your journey of how you came to Crushes?
So I came to be at Crushes at the end of 2019/start of 2020. I was just about to go back to university, I didn’t really have a career path. I had studied for a bit, traveled for a bit but I didn’t really know what I was doing. Rose, one of the owners of Crushes, reached out to me and offered me a career role. She was like, ‘I’d love to have you on board, I can make you a manager, I’d love to give you your dream job’. I don’t really know how she found me except that I was a big fan of Crushes. Hearing that she could give me my dream, a creative passion and I wouldn’t have to go to uni before I sort of knew that we were going into a pandemic was dreamworthy. I actually ummed and ahhed about it for a couple of weeks and then something clicked in me to just go with my gut, I knew I would never get the opportunity again of someone reaching out to me for this kind of job. So I accepted! Now it’s been over two years and I just keep growing and evolving with Rose and Sarah and it’s been a dream.
Why was it important to you to accept the role with the mindset of it being a career based position, (especially within retail where there is a stigma that people don’t tend to stick around for long)?
So many people that we interview here and come through and are always are a bit worried about being ‘stuck in retail’. There’s this weird narrivate, especially with people our age, that you have to climb this ladder and have to be in a certain position, make a certain amount of money or have a degree to be successful. That’s where people get a bit scared in retail. I definitely think I had thoughts in my own brain where I was like, I’m not going to uni, I’m not doing what my parents want me to do, I’m not successful etc When going with my heart, I knew they could offer me the same amount of money, if that was something you’re worried about, they can offer me fun, a female owned business and the most important information about women running businesses. I have learned more than I ever, ever thought I would learn. I have grown as a person and grown in my values. Because of them offering this as a career role, they have such good values that they allow everyone who works to do whatever they want within the business, nothing is just retail here. Everyone who works here can be grown into any aspect they want. It’s like a family and it’s amazing to be a part of.
Were you aware of conscious consumerism and ethical products before you worked at Crushes? How have your values developed since being here?
I think a lot of things have changed in me. When I first started coming to Crushes and became a fan, I was just leaving high school and just figuring myself out. I had just realised what vintage shopping was and in all honesty I started vintage shopping because it was cool. Coming here and working on the very first day, we went through all the New Zealand businesses and what they do, what they’re about and why they are sustainable. My brain just clicked, I had a plastic water bottle with me on my first day and I was like what am I doing, I work at Crushes, I had no idea! I remember Rose telling me about our receipt roles and how they’re BPA free because every normal receipt can’t be recycled, you don’t think of those things, especially straight out of high school. I think I was naive but I don’t like to blame myself or blame other people for not knowing because once you learn, it becomes a big part of who you are and what you value. I’m now proud of myself for how far I have come because there is so much to learn.
Why is team culture also important when it comes to working at Crushes and how do you guys build the foundation to being able to have that environment?
Honestly I truly give props to Rose and Sarah for that. The reason I know Rose is because I came to an event by myself, and as someone who has really bad anxiety, that was such a big step for me. I came to an event here, had a beer, looked around and I ended up chatting to Rose, who I had never met before in my life, and she just made me feel so comfortable and welcome. From there I was a die hard fan and getting offered the job was huge. The contract also has the most amazing values you’ll ever see in your life. It wants everyone to feel respected, we don’t talk bad about each other, you don’t talk bad about anyone on the road and you can openly talk about when something goes wrong.
What is the process of getting products into Crushes?
We get a lot of emails every day of people wanting to stock with us and we say, yeah bring in a sample! Any walk of life can drop their work if it goes with our values and it will go with the store. We want to support anyone and their New Zealand-made business. Apart from that, sometimes I’ll see something on Instagram and ask about it or discover peoples websites. We like to support small businesses, give them a shop to stock in and a story. I really want to go even smaller. I’d love to stock smaller, smaller, smaller businesses who do only three handmade things. Come to Crushes, come to us and let’s talk! There’s no real category just New Zealand made, it’s got to be sustainable, if you’ve got a good story and a good craft we can get it out really quickly.
Have you got any tips for people wanting to transition into becoming more ethical consumers?
I’d say it all one step at a time. If I act like I’m talking to my 14 year old self, she didn’t know. Start with the small things. With my plastic water bottle, I thought really hard about how many I actually would lose because they weren’t valuable to me. When I bought my reusable water bottle that’s when it became valuable to me, I knew I had supported something and I knew that I wasn’t making any waste. With my period products, I remember I had my period one time and opened up my pad where I ripped off a big off plastic, to pull off two more bits of plastic to stick ANOTHER bit of plastic in my undies and that’s when it clicked for me how much rubbish. Also how comfortable are period undies?! Start small, think outside the box if you’re not coming at it from an environmental point of view, think of it as how many times you have to repurchase products, like razors and spend your money on the single use. However it makes you think, whatever is best for you and start small.