While some young people fled Christchurch after the earthquakes, many talented and determined people decided to stay and help shape their city's future. In this Stepping Up series, The Press is profiling 12 under-30s making a difference. GEORGINA STYLIANOU reports.
T'Nealle Joie started working as a baker in her last year at Hagley Community College and resigned two years later when her band, Bang Bang Eche, toured Europe and the United States.
The band was chosen as one of the 25 best new bands in the world by MTV in 2010, and in 2011 it performed at the Big Day Out.
"I think music took a huge hit after the earthquakes," Joie, 23, said.
"There definitely wasn't anywhere to play and we used to put on shows in our living room, but we stopped doing that because the neighbours hated us for it."
Joie said Christchurch "urgently needed a new music venue" so she, along with flatmate Jasper Bryant-Greene, "invested our life savings" in The Darkroom.
They took on the lease of a St Asaph St building and poured "our heart and soul" into refurbishing it, booking bands, creating a food menu and getting it ready to open in May 2011.
"We bought our pizza oven off Trade Me. We had friends of friends who did the plumbing and electrical work," she said.
"We were two people with no experience, but I never thought it wasn't going to work. I just kept thinking, ‘This has to work'."
Other parts of the building are leased out. A Christchurch artist rents spacefor her studio, and the Room Four art gallery is also a neighbour.
"I think people need to stop thinking they have to open somewhere that will cater for everyone," Joie said.
"You should cater for the people you want to cater for, and I think the rebuild has given us a great opportunity for niche places to open and for new ideas to take off."
She said The Darkroom stocked a "great range" of craft beer and spirits.
"It's one of those things that if we make a bit of money we'll splash out on something new and yummy and create cocktails and stuff."
When not making pizzas, booking acts or manning the bar, Joie finds the time to make clothes and crafts that she sells at markets around the city.
"I think it's a really exciting time to be in Christchurch, and people should make the most of it."
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