Store pro­file

Frances Na­tion.

Homestyle New Zealand - - CONTENTS - WO RDS Philippa Pren­tice PHO­TOG­RA­PHY Bonny Beat­tie

Why not have a home­ware store that’s like a clas­sic cor­ner gro­cer’s, so shop­pers can choose qual­ity goods made by lo­cal pro­duc­ers from nat­u­ral in­gre­di­ents for their homes as they might their stom­achs? In­te­rior and event de­signer Tessa Peach couldn’t help but won­der, and the up­shot was the open­ing of her first shop, Frances Na­tion, in Christchurch’s re­cently re­stored Arts Cen­tre.

So Tessa, what do you stock? I scout out qual­ity, use­ful, New Zealand-made wares – from tool boxes and po­tato mash­ers to ce­ram­ics and fire pok­ers. They come from all over the coun­try and it’s quite an eclec­tic ar­range­ment that’s con­tin­u­ally in de­vel­op­ment.

What kind of vibe have you tried to cre­ate for cus­tomers? The shop’s lay­out mim­ics that of a tra­di­tional gen­eral store. It has floor-to-ceil­ing shelves stacked with goods, a long cen­tral ta­ble for a ro­tat­ing dis­play and two coun­ters – one for wrap­ping and one for dis­play­ing soaps.

I styled and de­signed the in­te­rior my­self – in­clud­ing the floor, shelv­ing, coun­ters and light­ing – and there are also a few pieces I in­her­ited from my dad’s craft jewellery busi­ness. I re­mod­elled his old mar­ket stand for the cen­tral ta­ble and use his steel pa­per roll and con­crete-based cel­lotape dis­penser.

This is a well-cu­rated shop, but it’s quite full and not too fussy, and there are al­ways new things to find. The tac­til­ity of the goods is a big part of the ex­pe­ri­ence, and smell has be­come an im­por­tant as­pect too – peo­ple spend a lot of time pick­ing things up and sniff­ing them! It turns out that when you choose to sell a lot of nat­u­ral prod­ucts, the smell of them all com­bined is gor­geous.

Do you have a daily rou­tine in the store? Run­ning a shop is so busy and var­ied – there are al­ways dif­fer­ent de­liv­er­ies, dif­fer­ent shop­pers, dif­fer­ent weather. I quite like it when it’s rain­ing, as peo­ple tend to take their time and the light in­side is re­ally won­der­ful. If I’m out of the shop, I’ll usu­ally find some ex­cuse to hit the road to col­lect some­thing for the shelves – maybe some lo­cal honey.

Do you have any ad­vice for shop­pers on choos­ing and us­ing hand­crafted ob­jects? Noth­ing is too good to be used – en­joy it. If it’s a spe­cial hand-blown drink­ing glass, put some gin and tonic in it. If it’s a beau­ti­ful can­dle, ad­mire it, then burn it!

Shop slowly and thought­fully, and in­vest in qual­ity. Buy with the long term in mind; a lot of goods could last a life­time and be some­thing for your kids to trea­sure. Ask lots of ques­tions when buy­ing too – don’t be shy, get fussy and get ed­u­cated.

How much of your stock heads home with you – is your place the best­dressed in town? Well, my fi­ancée – tex­tile artist Emma Fitts – and I are in the mid­dle of ren­o­vat­ing, so our house is cur­rently full of lad­ders and paint tins. But I can’t wait to fill it with all the lovely things I’ve found. I like to know my prod­ucts well, which is a great ex­cuse to own ev­ery­thing in the shop.

GOLDEN OLDIES Tessa (top right), who grew up com­ing to the Arts Cen­tre reg­u­larly and work­ing in the on-site mar­ket, says she loves her up­stairs possie. “The Gothic Re­vival-style win­dows let in good light and the thick stone walls mean the shop al­ways...

FOLKS’ TALES Tessa does a lot of road trip­ping around the coun­try to find and meet tal­ented ar­ti­sans. “I care about ev­ery as­pect of an ob­ject’s pro­duc­tion, so meet­ing the maker and go­ing to their work­shop is re­ally im­por­tant. All my mak­ers have an...

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