The Collaboration is a supportive space and network for aspiring, emerging and established small businesses and artists to grow together. It isn’t just about selling art and gifts; it is firstly about people combining and sharing strengths and learning from one another - through collaboration, incredible things can happen. Ngamotu New Plymouth residents Philippa Gray and Anna Scott are living representatives of combining skills and strengths to create opportunities for others to thrive. Now, after five years of collaborating, they look back on their journey together and the incredible opportunities, challenges and growth they have experienced along the way.
Philippa, an accountant, and Anna, an art teacher, met at the markets when they both had young children and were developing their own side hustles while at home with their young whānau. Philippa had an idea to take her small online business into a physical space in the CBD, and invited Anna along to contribute to a pop-up in an old building in the New Plymouth CBD. The adventurous duo went exploring upstairs in a building they had popped up in - Anna’s eyes lit up and, in a moment of excitement, she suggested using the spot as an exhibition space. Philippa set the challenge for the next edition, and that then formed The Collaboration - a gallery, retail, design and workshop space.
It started as a small pop-up revitalising dormant buildings in the CBD. But the community demand grew for a permanent Collaboration. Signing a long-term lease before Covid hit was one of their most frightening business experiences to date. Only knowing restricted conditions for the first two years in their permanent space allowed for dynamic and resilient business decisions and enabled The Collaboration to grow in what were turbulent times, from helping Auckland artists by allowing them space to exhibit and sell from while they were unable to service their own area, to building strong relationships with neighbouring cities such as Whanganui to create opportunities to exhibit and sell from outside their own district.
Introducing Whanganui artists to Ngamotu New Plymouth, just a skip up the road, it seemed an easy stepping stone for Whanganui collaborators to share their work outside the region. Artists shared transport across and helped move artwork between both regions, and our extended community continued to grow.
When the idea of expansion came about, Whanganui seemed the natural fit. A thriving community of creatives and artists already existed. It was the perfect location for adapting the model to become a boutique Collaboration to complement the opportunities already on offer in Whanganui, and to create a unique, well-curated shopping experience for the community and a supportive kaupapa to our “collaborators” (artists, small businesses and creatives involved) where the community can meet the maker and owner of the small businesses in the boutique. The Collaboration is excited to bring to Whanganui the Young Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Artist programme.
This has been a favourite success story over the last five years. The programme aims to work with youth to create real-life experiences, enabling them to see their passions come to life and springboarding their experiences and dreams, creating a platform that can help youth gain confidence and launch them toward other opportunities.
The Collaboration kaupapa aims to celebrate a higher proportion of local artisans and artists and small business owners, which means lots of opportunities for Whanganui and nearby residents. Artists, artisans and small business innovators from wider Aotearoa add additional contributions to help maintain a unique experience for all and continue the growth opportunities for everyone, allowing The Collaboration to be constantly growing and adapting to the needs of the community.
The Collaboration is a supportive network where sharing knowledge and helping each other to grow is our jam. Widening our community and extending opportunities for our artists, artisans and small business innovators to grow further brings a huge abundance of joy to Philippa and Anna.
“Our focus is and always will be the people and sharing their stories as makers, artists and small business innovators. All of our business decisions are pinned back to this kaupapa.”
You can find The Collaboration Boutique nestled into the courtyard next to La Station at 139 Guyton St, Whanganui.