“I’ve lived in Farm Cove for thirty years and then I saw this shop come up on Instagram. I had been working at a school, and I was looking for a change and for something creative to do, but I did not know what. I thought ‘I love that sort of shop!’ Now I have been at Cinnamon Brown for 14 months. It is one of my proudest achievements, having the courage to have a big lifestyle change and buy the shop.
You never know who will just walk in. I was adopted as a baby, but twenty-five years ago, I found out I had a whole new birth family; seven were my full siblings, and five half-siblings. Then one day a lady came into the shop – I remembered her because she had asked a specific question about a product. I recently found out that she is my half-sister, one of four new half-siblings I have discovered, and she lives on the same street as me! It has been an amazing coincidence.
Our customers are mainly from East Auckland, but you do get a lot of people who travel. Sometimes we get people who say, ‘Oh! I have not been here before!’ and they’re from Devonport or West Auckland or another part of the city and they just come to do something different in a different shopping area. I like William’s Morris’ quote “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This is what we try to have – I want lovely things here to buy that can be used. We also try to be eco-friendly.
We coped well with lockdown the first time it happened. We put in a new point-of-sale system and were well placed with online shopping. I saw some lovely random acts of kindness then. I was in Poppies and I saw that someone had given Tony there a generous sum of money as a gift – I can’t remember the specific amount – but he gave me $20, and said ‘Look, this man has come in and said ‘Can you give $20 to quite a few customers?’ – It was so sweet! So I passed it onto someone as my own act of kindness.
I love Howick Village because it is a real community – it has a good feel and is a lovely place with a friendly, happy vibe.
Even when I started here, people were so welcoming, like Karen at Avenrose and Meg at Lily Whyte’s. They took me out to breakfast in the first week of opening which was so kind as I had never been in retail before and had suddenly gone from being in a team to working by myself. We get together for breakfast once a month which is lovely.
Now we have had to go back into Level 3 there is more uncertainty out there, but I am sure our great community spirit will continue. During Christmas time, and ever since lockdown, I have seen people coming in saying that they are supporting local, which is great. We will get through this together!