Nina Quan and Riki Taiaroa are the inspiration behind a new venture in Waipu combining skin care and coffee.
Skin Image Waipu and Feoh Espresso opened for business in the renovated 130-year-old Blue Cottage at 86 The Centre, Waipu, near the Waihoihoi Bridge on New Year's Day.
Quan, a skin health professional, opened a clinic in Paparoa last year that placed third in the "best new clinic" category of the inaugural New Zealand Association of Registered Beauty Professionals biennial awards and Taiaroa is an expert barista who came second in the Northland championships in 2016.
Their son Benji, 18, who will also work in the business, was Northland junior barista of the year in 2016, runner-up in the open champs last year and won the first Northland Latte Art competition. Daughter Jade, 16, who has a passion for ballet and a desire to make dance a career, will also help out where needed.
"We are a family that loves working together," Quan said.
During the past two years the 130-year-old kauri cottage was first positioned, then completely renovated, on the site known locally as the pageant ground, close to where the first Nova Scotian settlers landed in 1854.
The cottage has its own special pedigree, Quan said. It was in Porowini Avenue beside the Raumanga stream, owned by the prominent Mander family in Whangarei as part of a flax works. It was the Philpott and Rive building company depot in the 1920s and then Ford's bakery.
Quan and Taiaroa bought the building and relocated it to Waipu, its second permanent site.
"With an external face-lift and an extensive internal revamp, the historic and picturesque building now more grandly houses a boutique skin health and beauty clinic at the front and a steampunk espresso bar opening onto a large deck at the back."
Quan's skin clinic will feature specialist skin rejuvenation services using advanced products and technology. Quan has a long-held passion for skin science, starting with her degree in biochemistry and genetics, then 15 years of marketing personal care with European multinationals in Australasia.
She uses a skin scanning device that sees below the skin surface to identify sun damage, loss of elasticity, oil flow, water retention and pore size.
Quan also offers other beauty services such as waxing, eye works and eyebrow feathering, or microblading.
Taiaroa's espresso bar is named after the rune Feoh, a symbol meaning cattle. In an era that predated money as a currency, the cattle symbol was associated with prosperity, wealth and abundance.
Quan and Taiaroa used this name for the cafe they ran in Sydney, which still operates under the same name.
The cafe is open during what Taiaroa calls the "fringe" hours – 7-10am and again from 4pm-7pm, catering for those who want coffee outside mainstream cafe hours.
Although not a typical cafe with a full food menu, Feoh Espresso offers unique foods such as fresh Vietnamese rice paper rolls with Quan's family's secret dipping sauce, and real Mosgiel cheese rolls. Mosgiel is the home of cheese rolls and where Taiaroa grew up, Quan said.
"At our age, we only want to do what we're passionate about and what we're really good at. We find that when we are authentic and put ourselves into the things we do, our clients can feel this and love it, too," Taiaroa said.
The couple carried out most of the work on the cottage themselves, retaining as many of the original materials as possible, helped by family and friends.
Having ran similar businesses before Taiaroa and Quan have designed and fit out the espresso bar and beauty clinic to suit the way they work.
The cottage will be open for public viewing on Sunday, February 11, 12pm-2pm so people can see the renovations without having to book appointments or buy coffee.