Monday, 30 January 2012

Ginger Pye - Reusable Sandwich Wraps

Ginger Pye is the brainchild of two sisters – Nicola Pye and Julia Hollis-Pye.  Together with friend Tammy Prescott they make Ginger Pye Reusable Sandwich Wraps.

Their wraps come in all sorts of funky fabric designs – mine features the Beatles, ensuring I get to eat lunch with John, Paul, George and Ringo every day.

Julia is in charge of marketing the brand and running the website, while Nicola and Tammy put the wraps together.

The name Ginger Pye came about from Nicola and Julia’s childhood.  With a surname like Pye and having red hair, all sorts of nicknames were made up.  When it came time to launch their business, the name Ginger Pye was pretty obvious.  It sounded good and had a “foodie” ring to it.  Tammy’s also a red-head.  There’s no official “red-head” policy within Ginger Pye and they accept customers of any hair colour!

Ginger Pye HQ is Nicola’s dining room table.  The company doesn’t have a dedicated studio/workshop space.  They admit that it would probably suit better to have a separate space because otherwise it takes over.  The biggest advantage to working from home is that the Ginger Pye team all have young children and as there are only the three of them working on the product, it’s so much more productive to work from home.

Julia finds it really convenient to work from home as she can work on the product while her 2 year old is asleep.  Nicola and Tammy both home school their children, so it makes sense for them to work from home.  When I ask about expansion both Nicola and Tammy jokingly wonder aloud if they can get their children to work on the range, and class it as part of their education!

The Ginger Pye product range consists of two types of sandwich wraps (large and medium), snack wraps and two sizes of snack bags.

The idea for the range came when Nicola was researching online for a pattern for a purse made from juice containers.  She made the wraps for her children and soon potential customers, starting with the parents from Julia’s children’s pre-school, were taking notice.

The wraps are an alternative to wrapping your lunch in plastic wrap.  The inside is made from EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) and contains no chlorine.  It is certified food safe by the FDA and in biodegradable over time. 

There has been a good demand for the sandwich wraps, particularly from schools with a strong environmental ethos.  Currently they have sold more than 2000 – mostly in New Zealand, but in other corners of the world too, including Australia, America, England and Israel.

Facebook has been instrumental in getting new orders.  Julia notes the compound effect of “likes” – when one person “likes” Ginger Pye, their friends take notice and have a look themselves.  And every time Ginger Pye posts on their Facebook page, there is at least one new order – immediately.

Contact them throught their webiste by clicking here or link to their facebook page

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Roberta Coutts - Montessori Downunder

Roberta Coutts is the owner of Montessori Downunder – a company specialising in hand-made Montessori resources.

Her business is a Montessori resource centre – she calls herself a “Montessori teacher’s technician.”   Roberta has clients on five of the seven continents, but mostly in Australia and New Zealand.  There are some other companies throughout the world that make Montessori resources.  A small percentage of those do hand-made resources, but they don’t customise them for the particular teacher or the specific training that teacher has done. 

Which is why Roberta’s company is the only one in the world that does.  For example, if you’re in North America, your resources come back to you with North American spelling.  No-one else in world does this kind of customising.  She likes to have thorough, accurate research and to make resources beautiful.  She also does some resources for home-schooled families who use Montessori as a theoretical framework for learning at home.

Roberta just makes resources for Montessori early childhood centres and primary schools.  There are some Montessori high schools, but they don’t need the same resources.

She also collects things that she knows schools and teachers will want.  For example, if she sees something in, say, the Scottish shop that would be good for their culture box on Europe, she’ll buy maybe 10 of it and have it sitting here waiting for the next time they need to fill up their boxes.

Roberta trained as an early childhood teacher in the Montessori system.  She has also done all practical workshops in one course for primary teaching, but is not a registered teacher.  She was an assistant for the Montessori Primary unit at Arthur Street School when her children went there.

She trained with Binda Goldsborough who was Dr. Montessori’s assistant in London.

As soon as Roberta walked in to the space, she knew this was hers – she could imagine everything in here.

And it’s a huge space – if you blocked it off, there would be the equivalent of 4 decent sized studio spaces.  But all the space is necessary.  Roberta does admit that she has “expanded” into the space.  When she started the business she was in the basement of a house.  She then moved into an office space in a commercial building but unfavourable rent and lease issues forced her to look for somewhere else.  A friend noticed the King Edward Court was advertising studio spaces, and she hasn’t looked back.

One “room” Roberta describes as a “teachers’ lolly space” – an area where teachers can come and get ideas and inspiration for resources they need.  There is an adjoining storage/stock area off this room.

Another “room” is a display of what Roberta creates and also her administration space – not only for Montessori Downunder but also for Roberta’s role as the Building Manager of the King Edward Court.

There are two big workrooms.  The main one adjoins the display/admin area.  This is the main area where the work happens.  There are loads of shelves for storage and also a kitchen out the back.

Roberta has been in space for seven years.  Her favourite aspect of the space is the light.  Her studio faces Stuart Street, with huge windows in each “room”.  She also loves the wood panelling – ideal for displays.  She says “the space just flows”.

Roberta doesn’t share the space with anyone, but has between one part-time to two full-time workers, but it depends on who’s around. To meet demand she should probably have around three or four full time staff - she has huge waiting list for resources!  Some schools have been waiting for up to six years!

For more information about Montessori education in New Zealand, click here 

If you're a Montessori teacher looking for Roberta's wonderful resources, click here

Monday, 19 December 2011

Jeong-hee Shin

Jeong-hee Shin is a Dunedin fashion designer – or in her own words “glorified dress maker” and the creative impulse behind the label mu.  This space is where she runs her business as a freelance designer.  She creates her own designs to sell in shops, makes clothes to order and also makes patterns.

Her studio space suits her perfectly – it’s an area where she can make a mess, close the door then walk away.  Not something you can do in the typical family living room.  The best things about the studio are her huge cupboards (which have been lugged around from studio to studio), there’s fantastic natural light from the wall to wall windows and she has views right across the CBD of Dunedin.

Being in the King Edward Court means that Jeong-hee is part of the mini village, nurtured by the building manager Roberta Coutts.  She also loves the fact that she’s able to change the d├ęcor in her studio – something encouraged by Roberta, where other building managers wouldn’t even care about, let alone help out.

Jeong-hee works for herself and doesn’t employ anyone, but she does share the studio with two other designers.  She prefers to work this way.  She spent about 12 years working for others and “running around after people’s egos”.    Her aim now is to just make a living – not to be famous, but to do what she loves doing.  Jeong-hee describes her clothes as “not that difficult to wear.  I just wanted to make…simple women’s clothes” – particularly those that can be layered. Perfect for Dunedin!

Jeong-hee’s creations can be found at DADA Manifesto Ltd on Moray Place or you can contact her through facebook under her label name: mu

Monday, 12 December 2011

Justine Pierre

Kia ora all.  I’m Justine and since I’m going to be nosey-ing in on creative people I know, I guess it’s only fair I start with myself.

I’m primarily a freelance music teacher – I teach everything from pre-school music to classroom ukulele to advanced levels on the flute.  This space is where I teach my private flute students.

This space is fantastic for me.  I love the fact that it’s like a little village in this building.  There’s always so much going on – dancers racing about, artists, designers and other music teachers too.  I also really like the historical link with the building.  It’s a former school, and in the 1930s/40s it was the school for music education in the country.  I wrote part of my Master’s thesis on the music programmes offered at the King Edward Tech.  Also, this was my grandmother’s high school, back in the day.

I like to think I’m keeping part of that link of music education going.  My music teacher in high school was taught at Teacher’s College by the former teacher of this school – so there’s a direct link!

I just have a little room, one of the smallest in the building (other than the broom closet a saxophonist rents to practice in!).  Comfortably you can fit 4 people in here, although with some chamber music practices we’ve managed to squeeze in about 6. 

Luckily for me there was an inbuilt cupboard which is where I store most of my music.  I bought a set of kitset shelves to store the rest.  As a music teacher you’re always picking up bits of music from random sources – 2nd hand shops, former students, grandparents of students.  I have it arranged according to the historical period it was written in – otherwise I’d never find anything.  Chamber music (music for groups) is in its own set of folders, though they’re not very organised at the moment. 

There’s a huge blackboard in my room – ostensibly for teaching, but generally just becomes a big message/scribble board for my students.  I quite like that – I like to foster the community aspects of music-making.  Most of my students have become friends either through the board, or through other music activities.

I have a couch in one corner where parents can sit.  I used to have music magazines there, but no-one ever really read them.  Now I have a folder where I photocopy a new article each week.

I also have my grandmother’s old radiogram.  Most kids have never seen a record player, let alone one in action.  Most of them just think it’s a table.

The middle of the room is an open space where I have a music stand.  I stand on the right of my students so I can see what their fingers are doing.

I teach flute from beginners to advanced levels.  I’ve had students go on to study flute at university which is really exciting.  I like my lessons to be fairly relaxed and informal, but I do expect high standards.  Some of my students play flute for fun, some want to progress through exams and others want to go on and make music a career.  I like having the variety.  I’m constantly evaluating the way I teach and always try to improve on what I do.  My youngest student is 7 and the oldest (at the moment) is just finishing university.  I have had many adult students over the years too.

My favourite aspect of the space is the round window in the door and also the view from the window overlooking York Place/Stuart Street.  I love looking out over the rooftops.

I don’t share the space with anyone.  A few years ago I used to share a studio with 2 others in a different building.  It was quite nice to have other creative things happening in the room, but with my timetable being so erratic it made more sense for me to have my own space.

I moved into this space about 5 years ago after the building I was in closed its doors to tenants in order for an upgrade into flash offices.  The building I was in before that became flash apartments.  Hopefully, this building will remain just as it is!

To contact me about flute lessons or to be featured on this blog, feel free to email me