Every Monday, the Chronicle fires 10 questions at a Whanganui local to find out what makes them tick. This week Logan Tutty sits down with garment maker Rita Snowden of Evelyn and Moose.
What is the story behind your business and where did the name come from?
My daughter had my granddaughter and she couldn't find any clothes, they were all much of the same. I had bought a sewing machine to encourage her to sew, but she didn't know how to, so mum showed her. Evelyn (my granddaughter) started going to groups and mums would ask, 'Where did you get these from?' It snowballed from there. We went to the markets and met another young mum who made toys and cards and started working together. Together we came up with Evelyn and Moose, Moose was a nickname for my granddaughter's friend.
When and how did you become interested in making garments?
I had my stroke three years ago. When I was in hospital, I was told to have a goal. Sewing just popped into my mind, it could have been cooking or anything. I sort of revived the name and the brand and tested it out at a UCOL open day and it grabbed some attention and that was it. It was going to be my hobby. It is my therapy.
What is it about making garments that gives you joy?
When you make something and people come to get it, it's the pleasure on their face. If they look after it, knowing that it can be in their family for generations, that is special.
Where did you grow up and how did you end up in Whanganui?
I was born in southeast London. My daughter met a Wellingtonian who was visiting the Isle of Wight where we used to live. And that was it. They got together and decided they were coming to New Zealand. She was starting to feel a bit lonely, so we decided to come over for a holiday. I was going through some operations at the time and didn't know how bad it was going to be. If something goes wrong with me, it is nice to have family close.
What are some of your favourite things to do in Whanganui?
There is just something about it. I like that things are accessible. I think that you can meander and there are lots of things going on in the nooks and crannies. Meeting people, getting out and having coffee and some good food. I have recently taken up some art classes which has been fun. There is a lot to do here.
Do you have any random hobbies or passions?
Growing up in London, it was fountain pens. There was this shop that had all these beautiful pens I would draw. We have Inkt on Victoria Ave, that is my candy store. They have some beautiful inks in there. I love writing letters. I have shoeboxes of letters my mum wrote to me when I moved away.
Is there anything you have learned about yourself or the world in the last 18 months since Covid-19 emerged?
I don't like being on my own. I like having my own space, but I am a people person. I enjoyed the first lockdown. It was time to recalibrate about your life and just slow down a bit. I learned to chill. It sounds harsh, but I don't think we realise how lucky we are here.
Where are some of your favourite places you have travelled and where would you like to go next?
Japan is one of my favourites. I've been there twice, my daughter lived there for four years. I would like to do another trip there. I've been told Rarotonga is beautiful. The Grand Canyon would be another. I just want to see it and take in all its vastness. Or the Niagara Falls.
If you could have dinner with any three people in the world, dead or alive, who would you invite?
One would be my grandfather. He died when my dad was 14. He was my first love in my family ancestry. I would like to meet him and talk to him about Scotland. I have always had a fascination with Scottish culture. Recently, there was an epidemiologist called Larry Brilliant who I heard on the radio. He was one of the key people behind getting smallpox wiped out. I loved his voice. Lastly, and it is kind of random, a lady recently came into my store. Her name is Rose, she was from Jamaica. She was a refreshing individual. In a few moments, there was a real nice connection.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Don't be afraid to say no to things. And don't be frightened about going for things, just go for it.