Freesia Boutique, Christchurch’s Newest Designer Hotspot

Freesia StoreFreesia (frē′z̸hə, -z̸hē ə; frē′sē ə, -zē ə)

The high fashion brainchild of fashion guru Kim Laurenson; an amalgam of quintessential New Zealand fashions.

For a shop owner who is a great believer in going “back to basics” Kim

Laurenson’s high fashion heaven, Freesia on High Street in Christchurch, is anything but basic.

Having missed the hive of activity that was Freesia’s store opening in August, I was anxious to experience the charms of a store which has already attracted a dedicated and growing client base. Lucky for me and my fashion hungry appetite, I was invited by Kim to meet with her to view and discuss her contemporary boutique. Offering classical and contemporary pieces and colourful fashion flavour against a backdrop of fresh aesthetical decor, Freesia, refreshingly, is operated under traditional and often bygone customer rituals of putting the customer first.

Nestled in fashion drenched High Street, Freesia keeps good company, whilst maintaining a unique image of its own. A project which saw owner and operator Kim, making her visualisation a reality within the matter of months, the finished product is like the flower itself: sweet to the senses.

Celine Rita, Designer, and Bec our Fashion Consultant

Celine Rita & Bec, Freesia's fashion consultant

Stocking New Zealand brands exclusively, Freesia is all about enabling the customer. Enabling the customer to experience and shop for crème de le crème New Zealand fashions like Augustine, Celine Rita, Angela Lewis and Sable and Minx. Enabling the customer to experiment with lush fabrics in the privacy of spacious changing rooms. Enabling both shoppers and browsers- because Kim maintains that all visitors are equally valued – to feel relaxed and welcomed under the guidance of a fashion connoisseur.

From the moment I walked into Freesia, the aura of the store and its gracious and gregarious owner (who even pays the parking for her staff so they don’t have to stress about central city parking – cute!) told me there was something different about this store. I chatted to Kim about all facets of her involvement with Freesia, to find out more.

What does the name Freesia mean to you?
My mum and nana always had freesias in the house, and I love the fragrance. They are just a beautiful flower that always seems to make everyone smile.

What does Freesia represent?
A store where you can feel beautiful. Any age can feel comfortable browsing and trying on some gorgeous clothes. We are here to help, not here to do the hard sell.

How did you get your foot in the door?
I have always loved clothes, and fashion in general, and I was walking past this vacant shop…and then it all just flowed on from there, you have to believe in gut instinct, or female intuition…whichever you prefer.

What is your greatest inspiration?
I have so many, albeit in the sporting world, and in the fashion world. I just saw the Coco Chanel movie; she is my number one at the moment, such gorgeous inspiration.

What is your number one goal and have you achieved it?
Number one goal? I don’t believe in having just one goal, you need many goals to keep you motivated! I have achieved lots of goals over the years, and others where I have not achieved the “status of the goal achieved” but I have learnt a lot from these. Life is full of lessons; it’s all about how you interpret them and being able to turn a negative into a positive.

What does New Zealand fashion mean to you and what do you think New Zealand fashion represents in the commercial arena?
NZ fashion is becoming more and more sought after, it is well known to be a little bit unique and very thoroughly designed. I recently spent time in Melbourne shopping, and I bought a large number of pairs of shoes, but struggled to find any clothes that I fell in love with. The selection in NZ, or my home town of Christchurch, could put any of the major cities into fashion competition.

You have NZ labels only in your store; was this important to you?
I think there are so many talented designers in NZ, and I often feel that the “new” and “younger” designers are missed out. I like to wear different clothes, and I like it when I know of the story that was created behind them, and customers love hearing how they blossomed into the fashion industry. This is why it’s so important to have a good website to go alongside your store, customers want to know who your designers are, and this gives them the easy option to familiarise themselves with them. Ours is http://www.freesia.co.nz.

What would you like to see happen with NZ Fashion over the next five years?
I would love to see a lot of younger designers come through, they compliment the older and established labels that have been designing for years. They shouldn’t be treated as a threat, but as a fantastic addition to other designers’ ranges.

What advice can you offer people who want to move into this industry?
Talk to a lot of different people; designers, friends, accountants, and other shop owners in the areas you are looking at. Trust your gut instinct., and do a lot of homework to find out whether you are opening in a niche market, or if you are competing heavily against others. Don’t open stores out of revenge against another store, open stores because you are passionate about clothes, and people, and being a fabulous experience for everyone involved, that includes your customers, employees, friends and family.

If you would like to experience Freesia for yourself, you can visit the website at www.freesia.co.nz. Or better yet, meet Kim at the store at 153 High Street for an indulgent and engaging shopping experience.

Article written by Kate Pierson
Images provided by Freesia Boutique

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