3 Parnell Locals Discuss Guidance, Diversity & Working Together As A Neighbourhood
Adriana Avendaño Christie, elected member on the Waitemata Local Board and Parnell resident, interviews Josh Lee and Joshua Jang from fashion store Bara AKL
Parnell is famous for its community of creatives and savvy business people — Josh Lee and Joshua Jang of fashion retailer Bara AKL are just two of them, and they recently sat down with local entrepreneur Adriana Avendaño Christie to share their thoughts on Parnell.
Adriana Avendaño Christie: Josh and Joshua, tell us a little about your journey in fashion, and what brought you together at Bara AKL in Parnell.
Josh Lee: It is confusing but yes, we are both Joshua(s). I usually go by ‘Josh,' and I am a fashion design graduate from AUT and have been working for Joshua under a New Zealand local fashion brand called ISBIM. Joshua, himself, has been in the fashion industry well over the last decade since he established unisex boutique brand ISBIM back in 2006.
As with the definition of Bara, ‘to create something from nothing,’ we both wish to create a local fashion designer oriented retail store in Parnell that can showcase in an appropriate direction to the market. We believe that Parnell was once the heart of fashion and will be again at some point.
Adriana: How would you describe the style of fashion you present from your designers?
Josh and Joshua: ‘Daily practical aestheticism’ is the key message we like to present with our designers.
Adriana: I perceive Parnell as classical, but chic. How would you describe the future of fashion in Parnell, especially here around Faraday Street?
Josh and Joshua: We always hear amazing stories from our customers about how Parnell was once the very heart of the fashion industry. Accepting, supporting and giving opportunities/space to the young creatives can be a way to promote the fashion industry here in Parnell.
Adriana: Parnell is home for me. I shop, eat, and play in Parnell every day. Parnell is known for the Rose Gardens (I take my grandmother there every time she comes to visit), the French Markets, Parnell Baths and a range of different architecture. Parnell has always attracted creative people — writers, musicians, advertising people, architects. How do we further build a culture of support and creativity?
Josh and Joshua: Faraday Street has this amazing and creative crowd consisting of architects, textile, advertising marketers, etc. We’re right next door to Red Rabbit café, so we see them every day, standing in their killer sneakers, holding their cup of coffee.
Adriana: I see the Parnell community as pretty diverse, but we like to stay connected. Does Parnell need more diversity? If so, where?
Josh and Joshua: More diversity on Faraday Street and throughout Parnell is what we truly need indeed. Having events like the Faraday Street Festival is crucial to ignite the interests of the creatives in the region.
Adriana: What is the role of mentorship for young designers? Do we have enough?
Josh and Joshua: Guidance. Guiding the young designers to GROW in all aspects (design, aesthetics, business, and personally) so that he/she can continue the cycle to the next younger designers. We can never have enough of ‘giving.’ We definitely should have more.
Adriana: One of my observations through Covid-19 was that some of the restaurants managed to adapt really quickly, mostly through digital platforms. What were your lessons of Covid? Did it make you think differently about your place of business or space in Parnell?
Josh and Joshua: Lockdown forced us to think and see different perspectives of the business and ourselves. The importance and strength of a community was one major lesson. Moving from lockdown to Level 2 then 1 had to be a communal effort. It took the whole suburb’s co-operation with following the rules to move freely again.
Adriana: The Parnell restaurant scene has evolved over the years. I love Barulho, their roasted vegetables always melt in my mouth. But I would really like to see a deli or a vegan supermarket, like Robinson’s Market, off Surrey Crescent. What would you wish to see in Parnell that we don’t yet have?
Josh and Joshua: Gatherings of a variety of age groups to either celebrate or appreciate the arts (as in paintings, fashion, objects, music, installations and more). Hopefully Bara and the things we do can help start that.
Adriana: I’m a passionate advocate for businesses and community to live more sustainably. I want to drive positive change in my community through advocating the implementation of sustainable practices. I’m continually frustrated about our contaminated bays in Auckland. We definitely need to re-do our sewage system.
I would like Parnell to be a low-carbon suburb where businesses work off sustainable practices and households have appropriate waste solutions. Together with the redevelopment of St Georges Bay Road and Faraday Street of course!
Fashion is often seen as the bad guy of sustainable practices. How do you feel about fashion’s effect on the environment?
Josh & Joshua: We are aware of the negative effect on the environment, and we are working on it since it is our responsibility. A sudden complete change isn’t what we expect but steady and smart changes are.
Adriana: The best piece of advice I have ever received is to hold your ideas lightly, let your ideas evolve with others input. What is the best piece of advice you’ve both received?
Josh: For me, it is “every day is a new day."
Joshua: “Let go, let God.”
Adriana Avendaño Christie is an elected member of the Waitematā Local Board. "In my role on the Waitematā Local Board I lead the parks portfolio, which includes parks, reserves, sports and recreation and being able to make decisions that benefit the environment, women and children, all of which are really important to me. I was a competitive swimmer all my childhood and have continued my involvement by coaching the junior squad for the Parnell Swim Club. I'm a very ‘outdoorsy’ girl so take full advantage of all the local parks in Parnell. I love walking through from Dove Myer-Robinson Park to the Auckland Domain plus Alberon Reserve.
"The entrance through Staffa Street is my favourite spot in Parnell: it's a native forest right next to my house! I was a former lecturer at AUT, teaching design thinking and also co-founded Social Enterprise Auckland before standing for council. On the side, I run a company called the Pallet Kingdom which diverts pallets from going into landfill by creating funky furniture and art. I would love to initiate a business incubator for young start-ups that lead in sustainable outcomes.
"The first place I would want to travel when the world opens up is Cartagena in Colombia. My parents had an orphanage in Bogota Colombia, and it is a dream that one day I could restart my dad's orphanage in South America, by continuing to work here and earning enough to help over there. But for now, decorating my house and spending time with my dogs and my fiancé is my favourite way of spending free time."
Parnell Business Association is celebrating the residents and business in Parnell Parnell.net.nz
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