GOLOCAL

A flag sign on Taupō Quay bears an intriguing silhouette image of a little girl towing a toy moose behind her.

Inside the Evelyn and Moose baby, toddler and children's boutique, Rita Snowden is at her sewing machine, working on a small dress made of unicorn print fabric. The garment has a label that matches the logo on the sign outside.

"Evelyn is my granddaughter," she said.

"She is 9 and her brother Quin, who is 4, has the nickname Moose."

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The nickname also has a history and once belonged to a family friend.

"I asked my daughter for her approval to use the name and a friend designed the logo," Snowden said.

"I wanted something unique and it seemed right to acknowledge my grandchildren because they model my new designs for me."

The shop is filled with limited edition small garments, all designed and made by Snowden, made from natural printed fabrics.

"I have had to find suppliers willing to sell me fabric in smaller quantities because I like to make just one garment in each size with the same fabric," she said.

"I want to give parents something unique for their children to wear - something they won't find anywhere else."

There are romper suits, dresses, shirts, pants, overalls and laminated cotton raincoats, all beautifully cut and sewn by Snowden.

As well as the clothing, she makes washable, cotton breastfeeding pads and stocks a range of toys and accessories made by other small business owners whose work fits with her ethos. There are heirloom wool blankets knitted by Claire Smit and little fabric bags made by Trish Flutey.

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While recovering from a stroke two years ago, Snowden said she needed to find new purpose in her life and was determined not to "give up and do nothing".

"I was a quilter and I had achieved a high level of proficiency, so working with fabrics was a natural choice.

"Making small garments seemed achievable and I discovered that I loved it."

She set up a workshop at home and, after selling some of her work at weekend markets, Snowden completed a small business course which gave her the confidence to move to the next phase.

Born in London, Snowden moved to Cambridgeshire when she married and later moved with her family to the Isle of Wight.

After one of their four daughters partnered with a Kiwi, the Snowdens made the move to New Zealand and settled in Whanganui.

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"Growing up in London, I experienced living in cramped and smoggy places.

"I feel so lucky to live here now and enjoy having green spaces and being able to grow things in my own garden."

Snowden previously shared the lease on her Taupō Quay shop with another retailer who has moved to premises on Victoria Ave, so Snowden now has the whole space.

Sizes in the Evelyn and Moose range start from newborn and go up to 7 years-plus.

Despite the bespoke nature of her clothing range, Snowden keeps the prices within an affordable range and says the quality means her garments are good enough to pass on, once outgrown.

She can also make to order and is currently exploring the possibility of adding a women's clothing range to her repertoire.

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Snowden said she would like to see more foot traffic on Taupō Quay and encourages Whanganui people to visit her shop, as well as neighbouring businesses.

Evelyn and Moose is open from 9am to 12.30pm from Thursday to Sunday at shop 1, 45 Taupō Quay and purchases can also be made via the Evelyn and Moose Facebook page.