Some people open a shop to make a profit and not much else, and others have different designs in mind. Wife and husband team Gem Adams and Nathan Speeden launched their Napier-based homeware store Blackbird Goods in September last year – and last week opened their online store.
Speeden is the numbers guy, and works out what sort of margins need to be achieved and business goals, whereas Adams is the stylist.
Adams’ process of selecting goods for Blackbird Goods is like curating an art gallery – a process of deep research and thought.
“With everything that we source, we try and know exactly where it comes from, and that the artist or craftsperson is getting a fair rate – that’s important to us,” she says.
They have found New Zealand and Australian wholesalers who they want to work with, and who care about the same thing as them – quality, good design and that products are ethically sourced.
All the carefully chosen pieces are inspired by nature, Japanese philosophy and mid-century America, Adams says.
“The most colour you will see will be an ochre or indigo. We don’t have anything plastic, we have natural fibres, cotton, linen, wood, metal or glass.”
“I’m influenced by – this is going to sound cheesy – nature. I like a really good rock, or a really good cloud.”
It’s easy to look at Blackbird Goods and think ‘minimalist’, yet Adams argues she’s not “fully minimalist.”
“I like to have things that serve a purpose, but that are really beautiful,” she says.
For instance, Adams searched for a long time to find shopping baskets for the store that had been traditionally woven with good strong cane.
“I was sick of picking up the plastic ones and it falling to bits. Why can’t the things that we use be beautiful and feel beautiful?”
Even though Adams, 30, and Speeden, 31, are in the retail game, she likes to think they are fighting against what consumerism has become, where goods have little value and can be easily replaced.
“We are just trying to teach people to buy a bit wiser, buy long-term, instead of short-term,” she says.
Next to most of the items in store are cards which tell a story about the object, or a synopsis on the artist or craftsperson who produced it.
The move to online was something the pair always intended to do from the start, but the demands of launching the store got in the way.
Adams had done an online pop-up store through her blog and that went well.
Adams photographed all the goods herself for the website and designed the site using a template.
The website has received a positive response from customers and the wider design community, she says.
The pair, who moved from Auckland to Hawke’s Bay a couple of years ago, are loving it, and are starting to see their hard work in establishing Blackbird Goods pay off.
“We are coming up to a year in September and we are already starting to see the rewards, and we think by the second year we should be chugging along pretty nicely,” she says.