Meet Amy Fowler and Kelvin Gilbert – the creative duo behind the successful creative agency Origin Eight.

As Amy Fowler and Kelvin Gilbert were walking down picturesque George Street in early 2018, they realised their dream of opening their own boutique design agency could become a reality in Palmerston North.

The creative duo, both digital artists, met while studying design at UCOL before working for a string of companies and then for themselves, based from home.

“We walked past the vacant shop and said to each other, ‘Why don’t we take the plunge and see what it costs?’” Fowler said.

After a phone call to the real estate agent and a flexible landlord allowing a one-year lease compared to an initial three-year lease, that as new business owners they were hesitant to commit to, they signed on the dotted line and the space became theirs.

Origin Eight have been operating for almost two years and are a prominent addition to the collection of owner-operated boutiques that call the playfully quaint street home.

We caught up with them to discover what they love about life here.

Describe what life in Manawatū means to you.

We have always dreamt of starting this business and without the sizeable population and commercial aspect to our city, along with the reasonable leasing costs in Palmerston North, we would never have had the opportunity and we absolutely love going to work in boutique George Street.  Another huge bonus of our compact city is that you can drive anywhere within a matter of minutes – no traffic means we can work more efficiently during the week. On a more personal note, we love living here because it’s central, we have the opportunity to spend the day in Hawke’s Bay, Whanganui or Wellington if we choose. We can easily join in with any of the various inner-city events or activities, or simply spend some time in the foothills of the Ruahine Ranges. We enjoy running around the Tawa Loop track or meandering down to the river whilst watching the native wildlife there. We love waking up to the song of our native Tui and Fantails, chasing each other about in the trees and falling asleep to the Moreporks chatting to each other.

Your favourite spots to grab a bite to eat?

Where do we start! Manawatū has some incredible restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs. Some of our favourites would be Little Savanna for a deliciously meaty dinner, The Fat Farmer with friends to share a bunch of delectable plates, our local Main Street sushi shop Mr Choi’s is a stones throw from our shop, perfect for lunch in The Square or on the go. BABCO for the weekend treat as their danishes are amazing, and so are their sandwiches!

BABCO Palmerston North

BABCO, bread bakery and patisserie 

What about to drink?

Coffee is a big part of Origin Eight’s life, Barista on George Street is our usual go to and if we are feeling a little snacky, we take a sneaky trip to Alexandre Patisserie & Chocolaterie in Coleman Mall for morning tea. We have lived in Palmy for just over eight years, for us, our favourite watering hole has always been The Celtic Inn, a warm Irish pub situated on Regent Arcade, the people, the atmosphere and most importantly the pints are always top-notch.

What do you love to do?

We love a quiet afternoon or evening at Foxton Beach as the sun is going down, there is nothing like getting out into the sea air. Otherwise, a favourite rainy day activity is popping into Event Cinemas for a quick flick. We also love driving through northern Manawatu, its gorgeous countryside is filled with lush greenery and as it’s such a short drive from the central city, it’s a quick getaway for a breath of fresh air after those busy weeks! We also love the fact that there are so many fun events on throughout the year, from Festival of Cultures to Plate of Origin, there is something for everyone.

Amy at Ian McKean Pinetum

Amy at Ian McKean Pinetum in Rangiwahia 

To find out more about Origin Eight or to get in touch with Amy and Kelvin visit their website.

Amy and Kelvin were supported in their business journey by a CEDA Business Growth Advisor.

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