As an artist herself, Debbie Morgan knows how important it is to support Kiwi businesses and makers. The Whangaparāoa local owns Morart famous for its collection of unique New Zealand artwork and gifts. Everything MorArt stocks is New Zealand-designed or made. “I’m passionate about New Zealand-made and helping local small businesses,” Debbie says. Morart opened in Whangaparāoa eight years ago, and in Milford six years ago, initially selling the art Debbie produced. She began painting when her now-16-year-old son was a baby. “We had just bought a new house but we had no artwork on the walls,” she says. When she finished her first painting, a friend was so impressed with the work, she suggested Debbie sell it on TradeMe. “I got $45. I was over the moon,” the self-taught artist says.
She eventually opened the Whangaparāoa store, began stocking work by other makers, and the business grew from there. Three years after Whangaparāoa opened, a second Morart was set up in Milford. With product lines ranging from artwork, ceramics and garden art to jewellery, skincare, home décor, New Zealand-made possum and merino garments and most recently has introduced Coast Fudge which is made daily on site from the Whangaparaoa premises. The fudge has gone crazy, who doesn't love fudge right! Debbie has also launched her own range, NZ Art Designs, which is stocked in Morart and in other galleries and stores around New Zealand.
Debbie’s philosophy of supporting NZ-made has become even more important since Covid-19 hit our shores. “Now, more than ever, people want the money they spend to stay in the community or country. Half our customers don’t want to look at products that come from overseas. “People like knowing that when they buy from the store, they are not only supporting me, they are supporting another small business or maker. They are always very interested in where abouts in New Zealand their purchase comes from.” Debbie and her team also pride themselves on providing excellent customer service.
“It’s about having a great experience. People love coming in to look at the lovely things we have and over the years, we have gotten to know many of our customers personally so we can have a chat about what’s going on in their lives.” And when they do buy something, those loyal customers know they have done their bit to support New Zealand’s creative community.