Jeanie McCafferty has run her floral shop, Next Stop Earth, on Constable St in Newtown, since 1996. She sells flowers by the stem and builds lovely arrangements to order. Her cheerful shop is also stocked with a wide range of gifts with botanical themes, beautiful pots and lovely vases, and unique scarves and jewelry.
On a typical Saturday her shop buzzes as visitors to the open-air Newtown market amble over for a handful of lilies, tulips or roses or more exotic bunches of sweet-smelling daphne, branches of miniature persimmon or perfect potted orchids. And when we visited there was a hint of spring on display, too - magnolia branches with swollen buds
Newtown House: Did you always know you wanted to work as a florist? Or did you come to this from something else?
Jeanie McCafferty: It was completely accidental. I opened the shop in 1996 with plants and gifts for gardeners and children's gardening with a very small selection of flowers and with virtually no retail or business experience, but I was a keen gardener and came from a long line of keen home gardeners.
NH: What was the route that brought you to this career and this place?
JMc: I've worked as a secretary and personal assistant, helped run the Trade Aid shop in Auckland in the late 1970s, worked in child care and then trained as a kindergarten teacher, was the Kindergarten Teachers Association national president, worked with trade unions and education groups, and worked doing public relations, marketing, publishing and project management among other things!
NH: What's the best thing about your work? What's the most challenging?
JMc: Best: the customers and the people I work with; second best: no week is the same; third best: working creatively with the flowers and then getting to travel to buy some of the stock. Oh, and getting to listen to music I like all day. I could go on and on. The most challenging is keeping on top of the paperwork and stock ordering
NH: What's the one thing you wish people really understood about your work?
JMc: I can't always get what they want in the flower department! Oh and how tired I often feel on a Wednesday after getting up early to buy the flowers – it's a 12-hour day by the time I get home!
NH: When you're not working, what do you most enjoy doing?
JMc: Spending time with family and friends, gardening, ceramics - making pots / vases, etc - movies, family history, knitting, I'm pretty boring, really.
NH: How long have you been in Newtown? What made you choose Newtown?
JMc: At work, the busy Constable St. I reckon it's New Zealand's most-walked suburban street. Day and night there is nearly always someone walking up or down.
At home I look out over trees and the front garden courtyard and onto a great view of Newtown.
NH: What's the best thing about doing business / living in Newtown?
JMc: Business wise its the visibility on Constable St with so many cars and buses going past and relatively easy parking for customers.
Living here it's the diversity of the people, friendliness, then the proximity to the city and the sunshine – sunniest suburb in Wellington, I'm told.
NH: Have you always been here or have you shifted from somewhere else? How does it compare?
JMc: I was brought up in Auckland on the North Shore, where I had a great childhood and adolescence. I moved to Wellington when I was 19 to go to Teachers College. I loved Wellington from my first visit as a young adult.
NH: What's the most 'Newtown' thing you've ever seen?
JMc: Hard to pick one! The kids riding their bikes up Constable St holding onto their surfboards on the way to Lyall Bay, the characters hanging out in the shopping centre, although there don't seem to be so many of them these days, and the ones who regularly walk up and down Constable St,
NH: How do you define 'Newtown life'? What does it mean to you?
JMc: The sound of the animals at the zoo especially the Gibbons and the lion roaring – when I first moved here I found it magical and still do. The fruit and vege market, an easy walk into the city, walks in the Town Belt, the Indian food shops for great spices – you can get loads of chili for less than a dollar! Spoilt for choice for eating out, the great range of op shops - hardly need to go to town, we have so many services here.
Next Stop Earth
76 Constable Street, Newtown, Wellington.
Phone 04-389 0408