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.