Ten years ago Annabel Berry was spreading wallpaper samples out on her dining room table, as she dipped her toes into the world of interior design.
Last week she opened the doors on her new Oamaru premises, and she feels like Design Federation has found its home.
‘‘This is the space that we were always supposed to be in,’’ Mrs Berry said.
The new store is on the corner of Thames and Wear Sts in the building which previously housed the Oamaru Silk Centre.
The former premises, further south on Thames St, had become unfit for purpose, due to an increasing seagull population nesting on the roof, rendering half the space unusable.
‘‘From my perspective, in every crisis comes opportunity.
‘‘We looked through town, we kept coming back to this space, and it just felt right for us. It delivered everything we wanted it to.
‘‘I feel like this space now, is like the culmination of 10 years of really hard work. It’s such a great celebration now, that at that 10-year anniversary we’ve been able to launch something that feels like it’s truly us, and that it delivers everything we’ve ever wanted in a space.’’
Once the decision was made after Christmas to move, it all happened within the space of six weeks — the last two of which, Mrs Berry described as ‘‘completely hectic’’.
‘‘I’m so grateful to my team who threw everything at it as well, just to make it work. And so grateful to the tradespeople in Oamaru, who really went above and beyond to help us to get it to where we wanted it, which is amazing.’’
There were larger premises on offer but she decided bigger was not necessarily better.
‘‘I just want us to focus purely on the brands and the products and the services we love, and we have actually removed a lot of the other . . .after 10 years, we’re really clear on what works.
‘‘We love this space, because it’s light and airy, and it really works with our interior aesthetic, and the products that support that.’’
Mrs Berry described hers as the classic Kiwi business story, ‘‘where we started 10 years ago, from my dining room table’’.
She and husband Simon had just built a new house, and had a new baby, Mia. The house build had sparked a passion for interiors, and she decided to study from home and gained an interior design qualification using what she had learned.
‘‘When the wallpaper samples got too much for Simon, we started looking at spaces in town,’’ she said.
‘‘I was so grateful for Spivey Real Estate, who gave me their space and real estate office for $50 a week, which meant that I could have my own space and start creating this, sort of, journey with Design Federation.’’
The Silk Centre building was Design Federation’s sixth location and, over the years, she had been involved in major projects, such as the Observatory Retirement Village, Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony and a recent Riverstone Kitchen revamp. The company had also completed more than 50 new homes and renovations over the decade.
About five years ago, they started the design store, stocking homewares, gifts, and women’s clothing — another passion of Mrs Berry’s.
‘‘I spent years and years not being able to find the clothes that I wanted that made me feel good, and for me, it’s all about empowering women and giving women true joy in their lives, whether that’s been supporting them through buying the right outfit, or making their homes better for them.’’
Running her own business was not easy, but the fact she loved what she did was the ‘‘constant’’.
‘‘We love colour and pattern and design, and there’s always something to learn. The industry’s always changing and evolving and there’s always new products and services.’’
As for the future, the focus was on always being better than the time before, Mrs Berry said.
‘‘We’re constantly evolving, we never sit still.’’