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.
I attended the Yellow ‘The Biz’ event yesterday and it truly was The Biz! I was never really keen on these types of ‘free seminars’, I’m always a bit suspicious about the ulterior motive and I have little taste for waffling.
Anyway, I rocked up to the scene of the venue - Orlando Country - which is just on the outskirts of Palmy, and has a kind of Country Club vibe- there’s golf, and a pond and sweeping grounds and most importantly a bar. As I sauntered sassily towards the entrance I saw a helicopter casually relaxing in prime position on part of the above mentioned ‘sweeping grounds’ and I remembered that there was a competition to win a trip in a helicopter; I immediately thought ‘oh dear god, please do not let me win that’! More on that later...
I was greeted with shock and horror by two of the Yellow reps I deal with – Susan and Karen. They widened their eyes like ‘omg, Rachel’s here’ and then they greeted me kindly anyway and laughed nervously as if to say ‘what will she say, what will she do’? I grabbed some of the free bubbly and headed outside. Out there I met another ‘business person’ and proceeded to have a lovely chat. Eventually another ‘business person’ came and joined us, because that’s what we’re all doing there – drinking and being businessy talking about business things and stuff. We were also human beings so it turns out we could just talk in general like normal people too (in fact I don’t want to ruin this image of business goodness and stuff, or take away from the amazing success of woman in business by mentioning something as trivial as their clothing but, but, Kathy had the greatest unicorn shirt on, and it mesmerized me).
Eventually we were ushered inside for the business side of the event. They call it ‘the biz’ to give business a cool sounding vibe. At this stage I realised that Kathy with the Unicorn Shirt I had just been chatting with was one of the speakers for the event- she’d kept that low key. Fortunately the MC of the night Tenby Powell (more on this later) encouraged use of our Social Media during the event, that’s great because if things get boring I’m not even going to have to hide the fact that I’m on Facebook! Tenby offers a prize for the best tweet about the event, and I just know I’m in with a chance. I quickly chuck a tweet together :
And then he mentions the prize is a ride in the helicopter, oh...
So the first speaker, Ian Balme is up and he tells us all about going BIG, and his story about his business which is a tourism venture called ‘Forgotten World Adventures’. He was a good bloke, who spoke in a nice, relaxed, friendly way, and totally made me put Forgotten World Adventures on my Bucket List.
Next speaker, Kathy Cunningham (unicorn shirt) from Empire PR & Events is an ex New Yorker, ex Aucklander who has decided to push her PR game to the limits by residing in Whanganui! I don’t know if I believe her but she insists she loves it there and I don’t know if it’s the magic, mesmerising power of the unicorn shirt or Kathy’s exceptional PR but I’m starting to think I love it too, or is it Kathy I love. I tweet my love to her, how many wines have I had?
I really need to go to the ‘restroom’, I’m hanging on to hopes for a break really soon. As soon as the break starts I race to the ‘ladies’ restroom and take residence. After a while I hear Susan the yellow pages rep in the toilet saying this “Rachel, Rachel Offord, are you in there, you’ve won the helicopter ride” as only Susan can. Lucky I’ve just been to the toilet because – oh my god – I’m going on a helicopter!!! So I come out and laugh nervously about the ordeal ahead of me and talk to Karen and Susan and this guy that I assume is also a winner of the helicopter ride. He asks me “ever been on helicopter before” and I tell him that I haven’t and I also didn’t want to go on this one. Well soon he calls me over for a safety briefing before the flight, and I’m like “wait are you from the helicopter company?” he smiles and nods while I inwardly shoot myself in the head. Well, who should turn out to be my helicopter buddy but Kathy from Empire PR that I’d just sent a love tweet too!!! We laughed and high fived and went on an EPIC helicopter trip (thanks to Helisolutions) on a most beautiful sunny evening, over the wind farm and the gorge and back in time for the second half of the event.
Now because I’d won the helicopter ride I wanted my five seconds of fame and a chance to get in front of a crowd of potential clients. I asked Tenby if I could have that, and he kindly obliged. Now my twitter account is not my business account but my personal writing and opinions. So I hadn’t considered that my twitter by-line was not ‘biz’ friendly. However, especially since finding out that Tenby is – how shall I say it, of high standing maybe- I think this introduction he gave me was just the best. “This is Rachel whose Twitter name is Plum Lovely and here is what her Twitter handle says ‘shit talker, shit writer, feminist, mother, and human inhabiting earth’”. I have to admit, that really tickled me. So I went on to assure people that I wrote words for people from the most coarse and acerbic to the most rigorous and academic and everything in between. I also pointed out that Kathy’s shirt was just amazing and perhaps it should be offered as a prize. I’m so sorry Kathy, maybe I’d had too much to drink...
After my 'amazing speech' we had a guy from Yellow (one of the super important guys) tell us some interesting stuff about Yellow and what they were going to be focused on in the future. I get the impression that Yellow are really doing ‘The Biz’ in the digital market and it’s low key exciting especially for me because I like creative ideas and people.
The final speaker is Marcus Wild from ‘90 seconds’, a company that makes videos so that you’re website becomes one of the superstars. I’m concerned that someone has told Marcus that he had to dress in theme because he’s dressed like a cowboy but acting businessy. He delivers the cruel blow to my wonderful speech about words by saying that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’, nice one. He seems to have a pretty good point and his company is growing exponentially, like soon, they’re going to be in Space!
So that’s it, it’s all over for the speakers and we’re left with nothing to do except ‘network’ (that means talking to people) and eating beautifully prepared finger foods and drinking wine. I think I might even have some interest in my services from my ‘networking’. After a twitter exchange with Tenby I’ve changed my Twitter handle to ‘wordsmithtress and creative ideas conjurer’ and have in mind to really think about my digital strategy.
I’m not really sure what more you could want from a free marketing seminar, this really was:
P.S. I do not work for or promote Yellow (not yet anyway they're probably considering how they can take me on as their muse, on my business card it could say a'muse'ing).
P.P.S I am passionate about writing and communication, I can make your business stories and literature shine - You Have My Word.
P.P.P.S I never run out of creative ideas and things to say...
I talk and think a lot, here I share the love and the words and the thoughts. Take it or leave it...