Most visitors to Whakatane’s Whitegold. presume it’s named after the modern precious metal. Not so, laughs owner Kate Clark – it’s actually a cheeky reference to the milk cheque that gave the lifestyle store its start.
Kate and husband Grant are share-milkers on a family farm in Waimana, 25 minutes out of Whakatane. Their Fonterra payout in 2014 was exceptionally good – so rather than paying off debt, the Clarks decided to be bold and invest it in a new business. Two months after their initial discussion, Kate got her chance to open a store loaded with all the homeware, gifts and fashion she’d loved from afar but hadn’t been able to buy locally.
She is constantly searching for local artists who are doing something different or unique, offering whitegold, as a way to showcase their wares and build awareness – and the region is proving to be a fertile hunting ground. Products for Bossy (the 100 per cent vegan, good-enough-to-eat skincare brand) are made just around the corner, the national distributor of Ottoloom Turkish towels is based over the hill in Ohope, and Teresa Hodges of BLAK is a local designer. Kate also stocks the work of some clever local mums, who produce items gradually, around their childcare duties – something Kate understands as she too juggles her job around the kindy/daycare run for their two girls, Ava, 4, and Hazel, 2.