In the Spotlight - HAPA
This week I have the pleasure of sharing with you some inside information on one of our latest stockists - HAPA! Yuri and Maureen are co-owners and friends of this colourful shop located in the Re:Start mall, Christchurch. I was lucky enough to photograph this colourful, fun shop last week when I was down in Christchurch. Yuri and Maureen are truly a lovely bunch and have answered our questions with great gusto! How did the idea of the store come about? YURI:
Both Maureen and I thought of the same thing at the same time. And thought of each other too! So it was one of those things about being in the right place, at the right time. Opportunity after the disaster allowed us to make our dream come true. We both wanted to bring something new and interesting that would focus on unexpected and interesting quality design, art and craftmanship. Also, we both have complimentary skills that allowed us to launch this enterprise with a small budget and cover every aspect of the business without having to outsource. MAUREEN:
After 17 years running the very successful design store The Vault, the February 22 earthquake brought things to a sudden and dramatic end for me and my staff. The store was demolished in August 2011, and once The Vaults owners in Auckland decided they didn't want to reopen in Christchurch, I decided to open my own design store. I approached Yuri to partner with me as I knew she had strong design, research and e-commerce skills, which would be a real asset in a business partner - and she said yes straight away! We managed to stock and fit out HAPA in a very difficult post quake environment, while the CBD was still under cordon. For 3 months we wore jeans, hard hats and high vis vests every day! Its been crazy busy ever since we opened the doors - the first weekend that ReStart container mall opened 23000 people flooded back into the CBD area, it was a moving and emotional day for all of us. Why the name?
This is one of the things we discussed the most when starting. It took us a long time to get to here... basically it came about from a book that I saw once whilst stranded in San Francisco airport (something I wrote about once in a e-zine, funny story too). The book HAPA was endorsed by Sean Lennon, son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. And it was about the identity of all those children of different nationalities/races. Mainly Asian Pacific mixed with anything else.. what it feels to be a Hapa (of mixed ethnicity, it literally means "half" in Hawaiian). The name is short, visually and phonetically interesting and describes us perfectly. We are two halves of one project. Both Hapas (me Spanish-Japanese) and in a city where there is this crazy mix of Old and New. It really represents where the world is heading too, the mixture that makes things interesting and minds more open and tolerant. And a rebellion towards being boxed into a category! We now sell the book at the shop too and it is a great talking point with many customers who identify with the concept. What kind of products do you sell?
85% NZ made and the rest very special items that we import from small indie brands or crafters. Jewellery, homeware, art, NZ music and gifts. Many one-offs, exclusive designs made in collaboration with us or for us. Lots of outstanding and quirky products that bring an element of surprise and quality. We like durability and love noble materials such as wood. What are the best and worst things about owning your shop? YURI:
You work 7 days a week and 363 days a year, which is a bad thing but we cannot help it... Good things: working directly with talented people who inspire us. I personally love discovering new designers/creators that are starting and I can have some input in their development. Another great thing is the exchange with customers, so many lovely people out there who bring their smile into our little shop and make our day. All these tourists too, who fall in love with NZ and who want to support and show their care for Christchurch... Every day is different. MAUREEN:
I would have to agree with everything Yuri has said - one of the many positives for me is providing employment for our wonderful staff, and income for over 150 local crafters, artists and designers - many of whom had lost outlets in Christchurch after the earthquake. We also support the local Design & Arts College and stock products with designs created by the students, as well as a dedicated exhibition space for them where we showcase their artworks and textiles. How do you find new designers / products to stock?
Lots of hours on the net and at markets. Some people approach us directly too. We REALLY curate our stock, everything gets discussed and we both must be happy with it :) What song or album are you currently playing in the shop? YURI:
Me, I'm obsessed with Shapeshifter's new album "Delta" (because it is very uplifting and brings a lot of energy to the space) or our ipod in shuffle with all the albums we sell (Iva Lankum, Ladi6, The Eastern, Maisey Rika, Lorde, Tiki, Fly My Pretties, Six60, Sola Rosa, The Adults, etc etc...) as well as some 80s Spanish albums so that I can sing along ahem.. MAUREEN:
NZ music is a big part of life through our family business Tikidub Productions, so Im usually listening to the latest releases from a variety of local and national musicians. Current favourites are Delaney Davidson, Ahoribuzz and Louis Baker...my partner Blair influences my international listening as he listens to a wide range of music from the new Kanye West album to Elbow! What's your favourite creative outlet? YURI:
One only?!!! I've got far too many!! But the internet provides me with a daily fix MAUREEN:
For me its weaving with harakeke, reading, cooking my favourite treats, music, and embroidery - which I sadly don't have a lot of time for these days! Ive got to address my work/life balance! What are your top 5 websites/blogs at the moment and what makes them stand out? YURI:
I wouldn't share some of them as they are part of how I find unique ideas but Pinterest and Facebook are great to help me discover new ideas. One things leads to another and then I end up spending far too many hours researching. Actually, living off my passion (looking for amazing things) is quite a lucky thing! From NZ I love Studio Home
if I have to name someone... but my list of Bookmarks for design/lifestyle blogs and sites is endless. Just discovered bloglovin and that's helping me optimise my time. Maureen and I continuously send each other links! I typically receive 10-15 design related newsletters daily and have around 30-40 tabs opened in my browser that I look at regularly. That´s how I know what´s going on out there :-) MAUREEN:
I've got several favourites, at the moment is definitely Studio Home
for down home talent, Design Milk
for international inspiration, and the Sartorialist
for a fashion fix :) Where can people find your physical shop and on the web?
At the Re:Start container mall in Christchurch or online at www.hapa.co.nz
(we only have a small selection of products online right now as many are one-offs and takes up a lot of time/energy to upload them, but it is increasing weekly). We have a strong presence on facebook
where we share most of our new products (including Toodles Noodles :-) and what's happening in our city. All photographs are taken by Liora of Toodles Noodles
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