take me back to the start

Before I was born and when I was little, mum and dad dealt in antiques and collectibles. Mum advertised in the local papers for 'linen, lace, and old buttons', and often came home with all sorts of other treasures as well, such as - oh, I don't know - genuine 1920s and 30s evening dresses. In the late 1970s and early 80s their weekend market stall in Auckland would have a pre-dawn lineup, and when they opened the 'door' a flurry of collectors and upmarket dealers would whisk through snapping up the cherry items - Victorian china, flapper dresses, and antique costume jewelery all bagged, tagged and snagged before 6am. (On the subject of costume jewelery, make sure you check any piece you find. Mum once sold a necklace that she was later informed - rather untactfully I might add - was actually a diamond and sapphire piece. Yeah.) Our home was the gateway where beautiful things passed through daily, but rarely stayed. Though admittedly our (my sister and I) dress-up box was made up of Edwardian blouses and 1940s girls party dresses, one of which I wore when I was 5 and refused to remove for about 2 months, until the ivory jacquard satin had turned a particularly fetching shade of beige-brown. Complete with matted birds nest hair that I would not allow to be brushed, it was a sight to behold.

Glamorous as it all may sound we were not wealthy at all; in fact, we were pretty bloody poor most of the time. Mum and dad lived the experience of constantly letting go of the best, the most beautiful, and sometimes just whatever could be found, in order to pay the bills. Oh... can we go back in time please? There's a black silk jacket mum used to wear, a loose draping soft cut with cropped bell sleeves, every inch covered in a gold hand-embroidered vine pattern. I need this in my wardrobe now. Sigh. I hope someone is enjoying it.

But despite the struggle, it was a home with a lot of love going on. And I feel blessed to have been raised by such talented, artistic people who taught me to appreciate the unique, the quality, the quirky, the history, the imperfectly perfect. Oh! Remembering... they made tooled leather wallets, bags, and belts for a while. The best seller was a soft leather shoulder bag, with intricate carvings of flowers or birds, and long leather fringe that hung right down to the knees. It made such a statement when a girl bought one of these, strutting away in her flared blue jeans with the fringe swishing in time as she walked. Man, I still want to be one of those girls. Then later, when we lived on the island, it was handmade suede leather moccasin boots. They laced up the font, were beaded across the toes, had sheepskin lining, and were the comfiest house shoes in the world, especially during the... shall we say "crisp"... New Zealand winters. Every time I go back to NZ I secretly hope to find one of those bags or a pair of the moccasins peaking out from some dark corner of a thrift store. No luck so far, but I'm still vaguely hopeful. In the meantime I seek out what treasures I can, imagining what history they have, and enjoy the little moment when they pass through my hands.

The point? Hmmm... the point. Well. Sometimes when a business is a labour of love you can find that somewhere along the track you started focusing on the labour a little too often, and forget why you made this choice in the first place. So here's just taking a moment to stop, breathe, and believe. I guess occasionally we all need to remind ourselves where we have come from, what passions were sparked there, and that it's important to allow - or sometimes fight for - them to still live in the present.

Man I feel like Dr Phil and Jerry Springer's love child today.


  1. haha it does sound a little dr phil but its all very true!! spesh the last paragraph! sometimes im so busy sorting and packing and such i forget to stop and appreciate the workmanship in the clothing and how beautiful they are! xx

  2. heya, i LOVED ur little 'step back in time' blurb!!!! its comforting to know im not the only one attached emotinally to clothes- that spark a memory! - and shoes, and jewellery etc! I was bought up in the blue mountains in nsw so antiques stores , thrifting and garage sales were ingrained in my d.n.a from an early age! seriously! im talking like i used to tag along at the age of 4 and 5 and remember getting alot of enjoyment from it! i remember once being in an antique shop and getting accidently locked in a wardrobe cause i was hiding, needless to say i was found very quickly once i realised i couldnt get out and statred screaming like a banshee! its funny how the love of all things old and 2nd hand grew from not having any money! we were also (not poor) but we had just the basics,- food,clothes and a roof over our head! its aslo strange how thrifting has becomw fashionable ,it seems strange when you have done it for a large part of your life just out of necessity! (a lack of funds)in a way its great cause i remember finding bargins - beautiful old lacey embroided haned sewn sequin gems of items that ive hung on to and would cost a fortune these days! so i think in a way we've been really lucky! juanitamango.x

  3. Haha thanks juantita, I've been feeling ridiculously nostalgic lately, I'm glad you can relate. New stuff is overrated :P
    Ash yeah me too, they can start losing their charm when you're mending sequins on an umpteenth Indian shirt... x

  4. hi, i don't blog...but in saying that i mean i don't have a personnal blog, i just look at everyone else's...i probably am some what of a sticky beaking blogette...anyway, i love this, not dr. phil at all to me, just heart felt & real...funny how the old can do this to some of us...i wake up & want to treasure hunt every day...love it...i am a princess every day in my pre-loved bargins & that is all that matters...good luck to you...D xx

  5. Haha, I love this :) You really put me in your shoes while I was reading. It might sounda teeny bit dr phil, but oh well, your point is very true :)

  6. Thats sounds like a great true story Ruby, maybe you could write a book!
    I often long to be back in the day, I remember the times (seeing photos brings it all back) when my mum and grandmother would make copper art, tooled leather, sitting at the sewing machine, spinning wool and weaving just to name a few. What has happened to these days, life has certainly gotten too fast.