BEST BUSINESS: The Garden Art Studio owner Lynley Fife with her 2006 Waipa Networks Business Awards ‘Supreme Business’ trophy. 199061AD
By Dean Taylor
The Garden Art Studio owner Lynley Fife admits she was ‘gobsmacked’ when her business won the supreme business award at Friday night’s 2006 Waipa Networks Business Awards.
The Kaipaki Road business picked up Best Emerging New Business for Waipa, Excellence in Innovation for Waipa and was commended for Excellence in Tourism for Waipa on the way to the top trophy.
Judges commented ‘The Garden Art Studio is a stunning example of local innovation and entrepreneurship at its best. A successful art and design studio combined with fine café dining in a unique relaxing rural location. This business is a credit to Waipa.’
Mrs Fife says it is great that a small business can win such a major award. She says the feedback has already been positive and she believes it will be a great boost for her business.
The genesis for the business began about six-and-a-half years ago when Mrs Fife’s husband Paul suffered a stroke. Combining her passion for design and gardening, plus her need to be around for her husband, resulted in her working from home as a landscape designer.
The couple had already shifted to Waipa from the King Country where they farmed and where Mrs Fife had worked in floristry and fashion. Not one to rest on her laurels, The Garden Art Studio was developed and opened in October, 2003 to complement the landscape design and attract more potential clients.
Mrs Fife says she had always found it difficult to source unusual and interesting garden art to go with her designs, but what she did find was exciting and interesting. She decided the studio would be an attraction in its own right, would inspire people to be creative in their gardens and bring more awareness to her work.
She was right and the popularity of the studio grew rapidly. From struggling to find enough artists to display a variety of work, artists started approaching her to sell their work.
The Garden Art Studio team create a new look to the exterior and interior space every month, also featuring a new exhibition each month. Mrs Fife says it is all part of keeping it fresh, utilising everyone’s creativity and providing a fresh and exciting environment for clients, many whom return on a regular basis. Artists now take it upon themselves to come and set up in the garden, using the positive feeling of the studio to assist their creativity. Clients also enjoy the chance to meet and see artists at work, and the artists feed off the response.
The studio has always been a family affair. Mr Fife’s ongoing recovery sees him manufacturing some of the outdoor furniture sold on site. Eldest daughter Angela works in the studio, as does her sister Melissa during the summer months. Son Kent owns Line and Design Landscaping, and is the main contractor to his mother’s design business. All help with the upgrades and developments on site.
A year ago another plan was put into action, the opening of the Lily Pad Café. It took over the original inside studio space, and the Fifes moved into their garage. The café is run as a separate business, but again its focus is to add another dimension to the studio and bring more potential clients.
Mrs Fife says sitting still in business doesn’t interest her. She says she always has new ideas, and while she has made mistakes along the way, she believes it is important to be willing to give things a go. Some of the successes include fundraising events to raise money for Guide Dogs, ‘Young and hungry’, which encourages and inspires young Waipa artists and a new innovation encouraging artists to look to the Waipa for inspiration for their work.
The Garden Art Studio has a mailing list of about 600 and carefully promotes new activities and artists to this appreciative group, which comes from all over New Zealand.
Best Customer Service Trade: The Bloom Room; commendation: The Olde Creamery Café, Westpac Te Awamutu.