If you know a thing or two about where to go for good coffee in Palmerston North, then you’ll probably be familiar with Thorne Coffee. Claiming its space unapologetically and with aplomb this bustling coffee shop offers takeaway coffee, milkshakes, cold drinks and exceptional buns, as well as space on comfy couches and tables out the front, or a snug hidey hole out the back where you can enjoy your coffee unobserved whilst reading a book from the well stocked book shelf , or even discover the hidden softer side of the owner .
You will meet an eclectic (I actually hate this word but it is suitable here) range of people brewing around the vicinity of Thorne Coffee on George St, from business people to artists and politicians. It’s a bit like Palmy’s version of Central Perk from American sitcom Friends, a real life drama for outspoken thespian Damian Thorne to serve up more than just coffee. After talking to Damian, proprietor extraordinaire – it turns out that this piping hot coffee shop was born to donate life to its bigger sibling shop – Thorne Clothing.
Like most start-up businesses the first few years can be tough, luckily Damian is tough too. He’s specifically told me not to say that he has ‘a passion for fashion’ in fact he replaced it with “clothing is what I give a shit about”. Let’s just say that Damian created Thorne fashion store in September 2015 because the fashion scene for men in Palmy is pretty threadbare and Damian loves fashion and textiles. It has proven a tough market to break into but Thorne is threading its way into the market and stocking an increasing range of handpicked clothes for the discerning buyer.
Damian’s skills are vast, he says he’s always had to work hard to support his love of acting and this has lead him to Sydney and London among other places where he has worked in many fields from catering to men’s fashion and everything in between. He’s the chairperson of the board at Manawatu Theatre Society and admits – he’s more suited to working for himself. Although this is his first time running his own business he feels that it is a natural fit given his past managerial roles and work experiences but it’s not without its challenges.
Shopping local, hell, even going to a shop at all is important to Damian. He wants people to come and touch the fabric, and hear the stories behind his labels. One of those labels Simon Hart is by a Palmy guy that Damian knows from his school days, who now makes shirts – you don’t get much more local than that. He’s also got a delightful range of Doc Martens, and even a range of t-shirts of his own label (Damian T- for the guys who disappointed their Fathers). T-shirts with designs by a tattoo artist are of vast appeal, especially to a younger market. There are Happy Socks and Happy Undies (more than just how you feel when you’re wearing them, this is a label from Sweden), Manbags from Italy made from real Italian leather by real Italian Men, and a select range of shirts – not your boring business shirts, ones with interesting fabrics like Liberty Art fabric from London Shirts. There’s also street wear, and more coming, including a range from popular label illicit. Quite a lot of Thorne clients are women buying for their partners, it’s certainly the place to get the classic Christmas man present of socks and undies – Thorne will give that present a quality edge.
Away from bustling crowds there is space at Thorne for you to have a relaxed look around, for Damian to tend to your fashion needs, and for you to find something that is not mass produced and worn by every second person in Palmy. Purchasing a Thorne product means supporting a local business, keeping a dream alive, and getting a fashion item that has been thoughtfully chosen by a fashion guru. Trust me, Damian is obsessed with image, and the strength of his brand; he would not be seen dead in unfashionable clothing!
Damian prides himself on his customer service, he is exquisitely attentive to his customer’s needs, and wants your experience at Thorne to be enjoyable, for you to walk out with a quality item you can smile about. Thorne is not the only fashion shop on George Street but he is the only one targeting the male market. If you’re a guy that cares about image but hates shopping, Thorne will see you uniquely clothed without battling your way through the crowds at the mall. And if you’ve visited adjacent fashion stores on George St and would like to share the joy of new clothes with your favourite man, pop into Thorne Clothing and get him a present too.
Thorne Clothing is stitching its way into the fabric of the male fashion scene and with little competition for unique male clothing stores in Palmerston North you could find yourself feeling pretty darn special in some exclusive Thorne Clothing.
Four years ago Karilyn Andrew brought a second hand shop on George St in Palmerston North because the name ‘Urban Charm’ really reached out to her. Since then she has created an intimate space to curate unique, ethical, affordable, new items so that everybody can bring a little Urban Charm to their lives.
I met Karilyn through a friend and this encouraged me to visit her when I visited George St where she can be found full of Urban Charm! I’d previously felt a little bit intimidated to enter the beautiful looking shop, full of fine looking items , fearing that my sort of ilk was not the target market of her shop. But having spent time with Karilyn I’d found that she was not at all the snooty, stuck up, elite shop owner that I had come to expect from such a fine establishment.
I started to take my time perusing Urban Charm regularly, and chatting to Karilyn, and at some stage I just decided that every time I needed a gift I was going to buy it from there. Here’s why:
there is always something suitable as a unique and thoughtful gift,
you can walk in and say “I need a gift for...” and get help finding one,
you don’t have to go to a mall,
and Karilyn will even gift wrap it for you.
Here are some more reasons:
when I buy from Urban Charm I know that my purchase is going to a local business owner, not a large chain of shops owned by shareholders or overseas companies. My purchases quite literally go towards putting food on the table of a Palmerston North family.
Also, Karilyn has great taste and a quirky style and I want to go and make my own little Rachel Register at Urban Charm so that anyone that wants to buy a gift for me can just go in there and pick one. Actually I’m going to do that, so heads up, if you want to buy me a gift (I love gifts) go and ask Karilyn for a look at the Rachel Register!!!
One day I was having a visit and a perusal when I came across a perfect little set of notebooks. This purchase quite ‘frank’ly blew me away. My cute and stylish little notebooks from a company called ‘Frank’ had a revealing note attached; here’s what it said
“for every book you buy, we give a school book to a child in need”.
I had a still moment. My purchase had gone from self indulgent to ethical and good for humanity! I felt more proud of my little notebook than I ever had of another. I showed it off on instagram – it did impress my friends. I’d just bought myself some good karma!
I wanted to know more about Urban Charm, what’s the story?! Well, it turns out that Karilyn chooses items for Urban Charm that are not only beautiful and quirky but as ethical and honest as possible. Karilyn chooses items from suppliers that are seriously good and she hasn’t even shouted her goodness from the rooftops, radios or facebook, get this, she just thinks that everyone should be doing that. I would expect that Karilyn would smash us in the face with her eco warrior goodness and charge the earth for the service but she doesn’t. She wants everybody to be able to have these options, she’s happy if someone can add some Urban Charm to their home, even if it’s just a tea towel, a candle, or a cup, that makes your heart sing.
What’s behind this humble and thoughtful attitude? You might think that Karilyn has had kids and got bored and wanted to buy a shop to fill in her spare time. This could not be further from the truth, not that Karilyn will have you know that. Actually a lot of what Karilyn does at Urban Charm makes sense when you know more about her background. With a BA in English and Maori studies, a Masters in Social Science Research and Evaluation, a Post Grad Diploma in Addiction Studies, and a Diploma in photography Karilyn is a highly educated woman. Her work has involved a lot of social justice, counselling and mental health services - heavy, exhausting stuff. So Karilyn sees Urban Charm as a break from the more challenging roles in her background, and for everybody who needs to take a moment to relax and indulge their senses. For this reason it’s important to Karilyn that the sights, sounds, and smells of Urban Charm are just right. It makes sense that she wants to choose New Zealand made products as often as possible, and it’s ingrained in her to make the most ethical choices.
Despite all this, when you walk in the doors of Urban Charm you will be met with a friendly hello and a delightful laugh, not an intimidating question and answer session about your political, or ethical choices. Urban Charm is a shop to be enjoyed by all and Karilyn will make sure you have the space you need to do so. Most of us want to shop ethically but the difficulty with tracking things down often prevents us from doing so. At Urban Charm the leg work has been done; go buy yourself some good karma, or something from the Rachel Register...
Please note - I was responsible for the photos, I'm a wordsmithtress not a photographer. Also Karilyn refused to be photographed so you'll have to visit to see this mystical woman.
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