In 2016 Paparoa businesswoman, Jillaine Murray, set up a small art gallery to sell her work plus some pieces on behalf of others. A year or so later she joined with friends to create her original vision of including coffee and cake in the shop. Now her friends are gone, and she is reinventing her empire.
Empire Art and Collectables and Folk Espresso and Boulangerie combined successfully and enhanced each other’s business well. The two businesses provided a social hub for locals and were well-patronised by visitors driving through the township.
When friends Mike and Jocelyn McKenzie chose to return overseas a year later, Jillaine needed to consider what her next move would be.
“The coffee was a hit, and I really didn’t want that to disappear, so I bought some equipment, hired a fab barista and am buying in beautiful cakes and baked goods locally made, and reinvented the business as Empire Art and Espresso,” she said.
The gallery is a popular site, and Jillaine now sells on behalf of more than 40 artists, including items such as wood, ceramic and photography. The most common comment Jillaine hears from visitors is “wow, you have really interesting and different things here!”
The cafe is open Saturday and Sunday. “The new arrangement has been in place for the last couple of weeks, and the positive feedback has been amazing,” said Jillaine.
Artists who would like to exhibit in the gallery can contact Jillaine at the gallery or phone 021 399 555.