Wellington designer opens Petone pop-up

Starfish store opens on 'mini Ponsonby Rd'

Last updated 10:06 27/11/2012

Petone pop-up: Fashion designer Laurie Foon, left, is delighted to now have an outlet – temporary at this stage – in the street where her great-grandfather ran greengrocer stores. With her is Lower Hutt-raised Stacey Wong, a Massey University textile course graduate who was helping in the Starfish workroom before coming to help with the Jackson St venture.

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In a vote of confidence for Petone's growing reputation as a shopping destination, Wellington fashion designer Laurie Foon has opened a pop-up store in Jackson St.

Her clothing label Starfish is approaching its 20th anniversary, and with stores in Wellington and Auckland (and Christchurch, until the earthquake wreaked havoc), Ms Foon said "we've had our eye on Petone for a while".

While initially "it wasn't somewhere I would have instinctively come", there was "a lot of enthusiasm from friends and family, and we also realised plenty of customers had moved out here for lifestyle reasons".

Jackson St has been described before as a mini Ponsonby Rd and Ms Foon said she'd always liked its vintage and op shops.

"It's these very diverse communities I feel really drawn to.

"I'm glad that Petone hasn't been fully gentrified and you can still get this variety of everything.

"[Jackson St has] a strong base of unique and individual stores, from The Dutch Shop right through to getting the unique hardware bits and bobs."

That's highlighted by the pop-up store's site at No 109, sandwiched between an anime specialty store and Saigon Bakery.

It's also something of a "homecoming" for her.

Ms Foon - who designed the dress that Wellington Mayor Celia Wade- Brown is to wear at tomorrow's Hobbit premiere - grew up in Wainuiomata and she has family members still living here. Her great- grandfather, William Foon, was the first naturalised Chinese person in the Hutt Valley and at one time he owned three greengrocer stores in Petone.

Ms Foon was delighted to recently meet retailers who remembered William and introduce herself to them as his great-granddaughter.

As well as clothing from Starfish - a finalist in 2012 Wellington Top Shop fashion category and winner of the sustainability category - the pop- up shop also features fashion from Seaview-based Deborah Sweeney, organic and fair trade label Kowtow, Vaughan Geeson, TK Store and Kathryn Wilson.

Ms Foon said for now, it was a pop- up store and only time would tell whether it warranted something more permanent but she was pleased with how busy they were.

"There's a really nice fashion community out here with Goodness, Keats Boutique on the corner, De Nada and the Minx shoes girls . . .

"I felt like we could add something to the colourful selection already here."

The surprise for her is that so many Wellington people also come to Jackson St.

Without Wellington's $4-an-hour meter charges and a less hectic environment, "it's relaxing".

"We notice it as soon as we pull off the highway. It's a different environment and I think it lends itself to family get-togethers; mothers and daughters meeting here for coffee and shopping.

"There's enough of a good offer out here."

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