An insight into the background of Creative Director, Melanie-Jane Smith:
“Throughout my life I have loved creativity. As a child, I delighted in reading and escaping into my mum’s Enid Blyton books and Sunday stories on the transistor radio.
I was a ‘hard worker’ at school and cried when I had to leave my combined primary /intermediate school. I was never that great at art or sewing. I did however, love the art of language, food and clothes. While in college and university I spent more money than I should have on clothing, ceramics and footwear bought from the various retail stores I worked in….all in the cause for self expression.
At Victoria University I did some detective work into my whakapapa and dived into beginners Maori Language, Maori Land Law and Sociology of the Family. A BA/LLB at long last came to fruition.
My first legal job was at Te Puni Kokiri. It was there that weavers would come in with wrists and forearms laden with kete to sell. Friday was hangi time.
After working in Wellington and flatting, a few friends beckoned me overseas to London. There I let my pixie hair down, drank, smoked, had tears of joy in art galleries and discovered the “world”.
I came home engaged to fabulous Clayton Smith, we settled into marriage, work and being adults.
I was then working at a law firm, loved the work and the people. But then, life took another path….I won life coaching sessions when I was pregnant with our first daughter. From there, I realized that I needed to actively encourage my creativity. I did a pottery course, (I had already completed a jewellery course in Wellington) and read about small business.
I verbalized my dreams with my husband, friends and family. There was mixed feedback of course….but I sped ahead….business plans, product and a lease. We had family adventures travelling up and down the country. Websites were evolving and research to find the artists was overwhelming but fun.
Newmarket was the first store (our flagship), Ponsonby the second (our boutique). There have been highs and lows, challenges, Te Reo lessons, business courses, anxieties, mistakes, revelations and joy.
The Poi Room continues to evolve and change….to stay true to our contemporary and authentic stance….. The Poi Room is a living force, a beating heart, pulsing just the same as my grandmother’s poi.
We continue to grow and learn as a family and are incredibly fortunate to live in a home filled with emerging and established New Zealand art. Indeed Frankie and Milana’s friends say that it is just like ‘another Poi Room’.
Thank you New Zealand. Thank you friends, family, artists, staff, customers!!!!