1. What was your ambition as a kid?
For a while I thought I might go down the whole farming route. I grew up in Geraldine, a very small country town in South Canterbury. My parents were teachers but I spent nearly all my school holidays on farms. I loved it. Farmers are quite entrepreneurial and I think I had that spirit in me before I knew it. But when I hit puberty, other things started to interest me. I embraced the whole punk revolution and Flying Nun thing. I used to get away a lot to Timaru and Christchurch to go and see bands like Bailter Space, The Chills. By age 15 I'd left Geraldine in my head. And by 17 I was gone.
2. How did you escape small town life?
After a year and a half in Christchurch I went to Sydney with $100 in my pocket and blew it on the first day on a pair of shoes. I played pool for a living for a while. Then through my girlfriend's brother I got a job window dressing and I got to know retail really well.
3. Have clothes always been important to you?
Always. As a teenager I was buying op shop suits and slitting the legs and customising them. Now wearing a suit makes me feel ready to go to work. In my wardrobe I would probably have 10 suits on high rotation. My watch? This one's a Rolex. Dressing well has an incredible impact. When people look at you they sum you up so fast. Good clothes can bring out the best in you and subliminally, when people meet you, they see all that. It was one of the things that attracted me to my partner (art dealer Melanie Roger). She's not afraid to be the only person in the room wearing a pink dress when everyone else is wearing black - even coming from the art world which is all very kind of dour.
4. Crane Brothers was initially you and your brother Mark. What are your views on going into business with family?
Well, for me I worked out pretty quickly that it wasn't going to work ... it was a tough decision to get Mark out of the business but I still stand by it. We'd had a fire at the store and it was a challenging time, I had a lot of staff and family that I needed to look after. It did cause a rift between us for 10 years, yeah. But that was just me being stubborn. I've become less stubborn as I get older. I guess I thought I was right. It's been good to reconnect.
5. How driven are you by the desire to make money?
In terms of personal wealth, not very. I want to live in a nice house and eat nice food and if I walk past Unity Books and see a book I like I want to be able to go in and buy it.
6. When were you at your lowest?
Probably in my teens. Angry, frustrated. Just that feeling of being not like everyone else who wanted to play rugby and drink beer. I also jumped a class at school so I was still kind of this kid in a class of guys who were driving cars and shaving. Puberty, you know. It was pretty brutal. But it's also what made me who I am. It's the reason I've got that thing inside that makes me want to prove everyone wrong. I also think I have that entrepreneurial gene.
7. You have two children from two previous relationships and Melanie has a child too. What are your views on blended families?
Good blended families produce great kids - they're independent and maybe a little bit cynical, which is probably a good thing. I also kind of feel that I have a better relationship with my kids than I would in a hunky dory nuclear family. I'm probably more open and honest with them.
8. Are you left or right wing?
Both. I voted for National but for David Shearer as my local MP. My left-wing side is my creative side but my capitalistic side is probably right wing - and that's also my South Island upbringing. Geraldine is pretty blue.
9. What do you think of social media?
I can see that it has a real benefit to the business but I've deactivated my personal page. I just found it was mundane, tedious. It kind of reminded me of being back in Geraldine, where everybody knows everybody else's business, "oh I saw Shirley down at the supermarket and she said that Colin's hip is getting better ..." And people vomiting up self-deprecating stuff about their personal situations. Where's the mystery?
10. Are your parents proud of how you've turned out?
I don't think they really care. Oh maybe they are, they don't communicate it to me anyway. I don't think they really understand what I do. I just think I left home when I was so young we didn't get a lot of bonding time. I also think being the son of school teachers is quite difficult, they're spending their time with kids all day so with me they were just like "make sure you're home before dark". But that was their generation too, it's not their fault. I mean my parents are fantastic and we had a classic, idyllic New Zealand upbringing, swimming in rivers and eating fresh fruit and all those things people talk about. If I go down there now I normally get a hotel. They're set in their ways, we're set in ours. It's just easier.
11. What do you think makes a marriage or relationship successful?
In a lot of relationships the other person can kind of morph into someone that they think you want them to be. My relationship with Melanie works because we are who we are. I've been out with her where she's completely disagreed with the people we're having dinner with and she'll just get up and leave. I respect her for it and sometimes I know it's coming, like we'll be out and someone will say something and I'll be like, "Oh God" because I know Melanie can't sit there and not say something back. I think, more than she'd like to admit, she gets a lot of those idiosyncrasies from her dad (journalist Warwick Roger). She's always challenging, always questioning, which I love.
12. Is control important to you?
I like to try to manage the outcome wherever I can. Yeah. I did some work with a leadership coach last year and found out what kind of leader I was. What kind? Uh, I'm a commander. That means I like adversity and rolling up my sleeves in a situation. I guess I have always been a little cantankerous but that can be confused with just having an opinion. I'm pretty black and white.