Laurie Foon has secured herself a spot on the Wellington City Council, having been elected for the Paekawakawa/Southern Ward. Back in 2016, Melody Thomas caught up with the city’s best-dressed cyclist.
This story was first published in Capital issue #31, in May 2016.
What happens when you bring together a love of fashion and a passion for sustainable living? Meet Laurie Foon.
When Wellington eco-fashion label Starfish went into liquidation in 2013, founder Laurie Foon was quoted as saying, ‘The funny thing about starfish is that, if you cut off their legs, they always grow back.’ And grow back it seems they did.
‘In fact my partner would say there’s more growing still,’ she laughs – which is a good thing, considering the many passions and projects she dedicates herself to. First there’s the day jobs – helping businesses and individuals to make a difference for the good of all through her work with the Sustainable Business Network and the Sustainability Trust. On top of that, Foon celebrates ‘the unsung heroes of Wellington’ with her Access Radio show/blog/podcast B-side Stories (search online or listen Tuesdays at 5.00pm). It’s the kind of thing she’s wanted to do for a while – the old Starfish shop was a couple of blocks from Radio Active, and Foon used to daydream about having the time and the guts to walk in and grab the mic. So, when a friend asked her to get involved with B-side Stories, she says, ‘My knees were knocking as my head was nodding.’
Foon’s extra legs also
come in handy for all the cycling she does. You’ve probably seen
her around – pedalling madly to work from her home
in Berhampore, pink vest and helmet atop a stylish, billowing frock. ‘It is very important to be noticed on your bike, so why not try to look nice? Fortunately lots of the great clothes we made at Starfish work for this situation so I am still wearing those frocks a lot,’ she says.
Given her eco-friendly character, it’s unsurprising that Foon’s ‘happy places’ are largely found outdoors – from holidays camping with the family, exploring big, wild, open spaces and tramping the country’s big walks, to the 20-minute walk from her back door to the top of Mt Albert, where 360-degree views over the Tararuas and down to the snow-capped mountains of the south still make her heart sing after 16 years.
Also unsurprisingly, her favourite indoor spaces are those where people consider not just profit, but also planet and people. She spends a lot of time at work meetings in cafes. ‘I try to frequent places that are Conscious Consumers-accredited. My favourites are Ti Kouka in Willis and People’s Coffee in Newtown. If we could, we’d eat at La Boca Loca every week, as our family are taco-mad and theirs are the yummiest,’ she says.
Balancing work, creative passions and family isn’t always easy, so Foon makes a conscious effort to shut down on the weekends to ‘recharge for the week ahead’. ‘We try to be technology free. I muck around in the garden and there’s often something in the oven… [at the moment] I’m working on perfecting a polenta cake,’ she laughs.
Foon laughs a lot – she has the fizzing energy of someone who lives a rich and rewarding life, and this city is part of what enables her to do that. ‘Back when Starfish closed I had the opportunity to explore if I wanted to move or not. When I looked around I discovered a city that I really love. There are so many great projects going on here that are benefitting the community and the environment, we should all be really proud… I’m a Wellingtonian through and through.’
Fast five with Foon Book: Body and Soul by Anita Roddick Food: Tacos at La Boca Loca Pet: SPCA brindle staffy cross, Kayla Walk: Heaphy Track Travel: Portugal