Amelia Lingonis loves stylish, unique homeware almost as much as she loves dogs. Her Wellington shop is a haven for pugs and rugs, kitties, kitchenware and more
If you love interior design and dogs then you need to visit Smack Bang
Home is where the dog is’ in huge gold letters adorns the wall behind the counter at Smack Bang, Amelia Lingonis’ shop on Wellington’s Tory Street. The new store, a pink and gold haven for people and their four-legged friends, sees dog and cat collars from New York and pet tepees from South Korea sharing space with skeleton candles and luxurious hand-knitted throws.
When the opportunity arose to combine her two loves – homeware and pets – the 29-year-old jumped at the chance. Smack Bang opened in October last year and is already carving out a unique place in the market.
Have you always loved homeware?
As a child in Hamilton, while others my age were playing with dolls, I’d be cutting out pictures of furniture I liked and sticking them in scrapbooks! I’ve always had a good eye and moved to Wellington in 2007 to do a Bachelor of Design majoring in photography.
How did Smack Bang come about?
After I finished university, I drifted into hospo jobs, not really knowing what I wanted to do. It’s how I met my husband Chris, who’s owned bars and restaurants for years. One day I was trying to find a dog bed that wasn’t cheap and nasty or covered in paw prints when I realised there weren’t any stylish, good-quality pet accessories made in New Zealand or available here. People spend a lot of money styling their homes but then they have to make do with unsightly dog bowls and beds. So I spent six months trawling the internet for upmarket, on-trend pet beds, leads, clothing and toys. I also found homeware, jewellery, books, candles, cards and prints that I couldn’t find here.
What did you do then?
In the midst of all the research, we were looking around for premises and found some in this building, which dates from 1925.
Were there any setbacks?
In November 2016, just before we took possession, the Kaikoura earthquake struck. Luckily the building was fine but it was cordoned off, which meant we couldn’t get in to measure up for the shelving. I ended up designing it from photos and it was not till four months later that my lovely builder was able to do the fit-out.
How much of your store caters for pets and how much for humans?
I started off with mostly homeware but then discovered all these incredible pet brands and it’s now around 60 percent pets to 40 percent humans!
Where does your stock come from?
I sell as many New Zealand-made items and pet products as possible, but I also source from the US, Europe, Asia and Australia. I love finding quirky new producers and when the courier arrives it’s like Christmas!
What’s your design philosophy?
Harmony in function and aesthetic – things should be as useful as they are beautiful. For example, your dog only cares that his or her bed is comfortable and warm. Humans are the ones who have to look at it, so why can’t pet items be as stylish as the rest of our homes?
What inspires you?
Hanging out with the dogs who come into the shop every day. Plus, I get to shop for a living – what could be better than that?
What are your plans?
I’ve been thrilled with the response to Smack Bang and eventually we’d like to expand to Auckland and Christchurch. I’ve also been tossing around the idea of starting my own line of pet accessories and clothing. But right now I’m incredibly happy that I get to do something I love.
Interview by: Sharon Stephenson. Photography by: Nicola Edmonds.