Women we love

What be­gan as two friends help­ing each other pho­to­graph wed­dings bloomed into a glo­ri­ous col­lab­o­ra­tion for New Ply­mouth cre­atives Brooke Lean and Gina Fabish

Your Home and Garden - - Contents - In­ter­view by Lucy Slight. Pho­tog­ra­phy by Brooke Lean and Gina Fabish – The Virtue.

The cre­ative col­lab­o­ra­tors be­hind The Virtue

Col­lab­o­ra­tion breeds cre­ative con­fi­dence for pho­tog­ra­phers and kin­dred spir­its Brooke Lean (pic­tured on the left in our pho­to­graph) and Gina Fabish. Based in New Ply­mouth, with six chil­dren be­tween them and a shared pas­sion for push­ing the en­ve­lope, the pair be­gan help­ing each other pho­to­graph wed­dings six years ago. This soon mor­phed into a cre­ative plat­form to en­com­pass more of their joint in­ter­ests – in­te­ri­ors, travel, styling, home­ware, de­sign and pho­tog­ra­phy – un­der the name The Virtue.

Adding yet an­other string to their bow,

Brooke and Gina re­cently opened their own re­tail space in New Ply­mouth, “which places our cus­tomers in the en­gine room of our ideas”. Here you’ll find an eclec­tic mix of in­te­ri­ors, art and even a bridal space. We asked the pair to share a lit­tle more about what makes them tick, to­gether.

How would you de­scribe The Virtue style? Orig­i­nal, raw, moody, ro­man­tic and el­e­gant, with a touch of hu­mour.

Why do you work so well to­gether? We both have very dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties and ap­proaches to life and work. This gives us a re­ally unique way of work­ing as we are forced daily to flip our ideas and be to­tally open to change, keeping our ideas fluid and fresh. What do you each admire most about the other? Brooke: On a su­per­fi­cial level, I admire Gina’s fab­u­lous hair and ex­cep­tional pos­ture! How­ever, there is far more to the woman than that. Gina has amaz­ing taste and an abil­ity to make any space look el­e­gant and con­sid­ered no mat­ter how hum­ble the con­di­tions. Gina: I admire Brooke’s amaz­ing work ethic and abil­ity to think big and out­side the box. She has the nous and de­ter­mi­na­tion to make ideas and con­cepts reach their full po­ten­tial – al­ways.

How does the rugged west coast foster your cre­ativ­ity? Liv­ing in New Ply­mouth keeps our lives beau­ti­fully sim­ple and un­com­pli­cated. A surf be­fore school drop, a five-minute drive to work, and a glo­ri­ous work­ing en­vi­ron­ment. Be­ing sur­rounded by the raw beauty of our re­gion is al­ways an in­spi­ra­tion. It keeps us grounded and fo­cused. Our way of see­ing and our cre­ative di­rec­tion are flavoured by our unique ge­o­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion. It has helped us a great deal; our style is deeply em­bed­ded in our proud re­gional roots. We also both have a lot of fam­ily sup­port close by which helps im­mensely with the moth­er­hood-work jug­gle.

Was there a light bulb mo­ment which en­cour­aged you to open your store? We trav­elled to Cuba in 2016, fol­low­ing on from pho­tograph­ing a wed­ding in Los An­ge­les. It was some­where we had dreamed of trav­el­ling to for a long time and we re­ally pushed to make it hap­pen. We left with the idea that we would come home and have a pho­to­graphic ex­hi­bi­tion. Our ex­pe­ri­ence of Cuba and trav­el­ling to­gether was both ex­hil­a­rat­ing and em­pow­er­ing. We re­turned with our planned ex­hi­bi­tion at the ready but de­cided Cuba was also a cat­a­lyst to bring all our other dreams to fruition, which in turn led to the store.

Can you talk about some of the cre­atives you worked with on the store open­ing? Num­ber one would be our good friend Sofie from flo­ral bou­tique Pe­tal and Prickle. She was there from day one with a cold glass of whisky and an epic work ethic. Tak­ing on board our ideas and trans­lat­ing them into her glo­ri­ous

flo­ral in­stal­la­tions brought a re­fresh­ing new el­e­ment to our space, which we are so grate­ful for. Our favourite ad­di­tion is a glam­orous brass counter de­signed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with tal­ented de­signer and friend An­nika Row­son from Row­son Join­ery. Mark La­hood from Mark La­hood Films cre­ated our launch film which ab­so­lutely set the mood for our open­ing.

How do you bal­ance work­ing across all your cre­ative projects? Bal­ance is a myth, isn’t it? We are driven by the need to be di­verse; it’s this chaos that keeps the cre­ative fires burning. We work hard to be struc­tured in our work­ing week, which is some­thing that’s not nat­u­ral for ei­ther of us. The na­ture of the busi­ness we have cre­ated is built on the un­pre­dictable na­ture of pho­tog­ra­phy. We are used to think­ing quickly and work­ing in ever-chang­ing en­vi­ron­ments. And when we get stuck, we have an­other per­son there to take over and help; it re­ally is a bless­ing.

“Liv­ing in New Ply­mouth keeps our lives beau­ti­fully un­com­pli­cated. A surf be­fore school drop, a five-minute drive to work, and a glo­ri­ous work­ing en­vi­ron­ment”

The Virtue’s new re­tail space at 12 Devon Street West in New Ply­mouth is a “work­ing ex­per­i­ment”, say Brooke and Gina.“It’s a place where we can make prod­ucts, cre­ate con­cepts and test our ideas in real time with our clients and cus­tomers.”

the­virtue.co.nz @brooke­andg­ina @the_virtue

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