I have been asked many times by people coming into the shop, staff, and friends about the origin story of Gecko Gearz.
So, I thought I would take the time to post it and share with others my journey of how it all got started.
It was never in my plans and it happened quite unexpectedly and spontaneously. It was by a chance encounter during my travels when it all began. Back in 1992 I took my first ever trip to Asia, where I explored Bali, Thailand, Borneo, Malaysia. While I was in Bali, I went to Kuta beach and met a woman there named Celeste. We got to talking and I found out she was an importer from Canada, who did business in Thailand, Bali, and Korea. We were enjoying the talk and she then invited me to come up to Ubud with her. As I was not familiar with the area, I was happy to go. While we were up there, she asked me to join her while she went shopping to do her buying. I enjoyed it so much and learned so much from her in that short time.
After we had done this for a few days she said to me, “look, Penny, I think you would be good at this, and that you should take some stock with you back to New Zealand, and when you get back there go to markets and sell it, and just see what happens.” That’s exactly what I did! I sent a 20 kg box back to Kaikoura and did a few markets and people just loved the stuff! I got so excited because I found the key to doing what I loved, which was travel, and creating a business around that. So that’s how Gecko Gearz started: it was all about the travel. I did not have the shop in mind, nor was I thinking about designing clothes, being in contact with all these suppliers, or going to Nepal; that all came after. It was purely a chance conversation that just evolved into something much more.
I ended up doing markets around the South Island and wholesale around New Zealand for about the first four or five years. While doing the markets I met some other fantastic importers! Back in the day, there were not many of us around, and we learned a lot from each other and had a lot of fun together.
People said to me it will never work, you’ll never make any money, buying these things from Asia, it’s never going to happen, and so on. I never gave up though! In 1999 a shop became open in Kaikoura. My friend rang me up and said, “Penny, I think you need to grab the shop, you just have to do it!” I was hesitant at first, but I rang and spoke to the owner that night. Now he gave me the shop, but he told me later that he thought I wasn’t going to last more than a year. I only got the shop because I was the first person that rung, it was done on that basis.
Now here I am, 21 years later! We did last, and there is a demand for what I do. I really love what I do, and I love the people I have met along the way. It’s been a fantastic journey! I went out on a limb and took some risks, and that leap of faith I took in 1992, never could I have imagined where it would take me to until today. Trusting in yourself and believing in yourself, and actually making something happen and knowing it’s going to work, that’s the way to do it!
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