• Nathan and Kelly Coe at the launch of their new Augustine store in Takapuna.

Bringing brightness to the heart of Takapuna

Kelly Coe talks to Channel’s Heather Vermeer about opening Augustine on the Shore.

There is a new sisterhood here on the Shore. Its heart lies in Hurstmere Road. And the woman behind it is all about encouraging the unsung mums of the suburbs to live life more brightly.

Omnipresent at the opening of her Takapuna store, Kelly Coe floats between greeting, style advising, photoshoots, chatting with new customers and out-of-area loyal ones, ensuring refreshments are plentiful, and that everyone’s happy. On launch night, and in the run up to opening, there wasn’t even the faintest hint of anxiety. “It’s all under control. Nathan’s organised the entire shop fit out. It’ll be fun!” Kelly enthused the week prior to the store’s June 1st opening date. 

Kelly Coe is an impressive figure in stature and manner; topping six feet in heels, long sun-kissed curls falling effortlessly around her, colourful, confident, calm. Coupled with her equally tall husband Nathan - matching model looks, business brain and friendly approachability - the pair are an unmissable, seemingly unstoppable, force.

Parents to Indiana, Demi and Havana, Kelly and Nathan came over the bridge from their St Heliers home to visit Takapuna Beach playground with their three girls when they first hit on the idea of creating a flagship fashion base for their brand here. 

“We’d taken the kids to Takapuna Playground - which is such a great playground isn’t it? And we just chanced across this site. We loved that it was an old villa, which opens out to the beach, as well as having the main street front,” explains Kelly. “It was less that we found the site, more that the site found us!”

Previously a homeware store, the base for Takapuna’s pioneering stand up paddle boarding business, and for many years, Roberts Electrical, the 53 Hurstmere Road site stands proudly in the centre of the main street, at the geographical heart of Takapuna. Unrecognisable from the building’s previous incarnations, Augustine shines: Gilded windows, neon signs, brass railings, pinks and reds and citrus hues, and flowers, lots of flowers. Kelly is behind the looks and Nathan is behind the practicalities - yin and yan, a perfect fashion business team. 

Starting out in 2008, the name came from the significance the month of August has in their lives - Kelly’s birthday, her mum’s, her grandad’s, and the name Kelly would’ve chosen had the couple had a boy. Feeling it was a little too masculine for a female fashion brand, they feminised it by adding the ‘ine’. That was then, and this is now - opening their fifth store, with their brands being sold in a further 65 stores nationwide.

The Coes have developed several clothing brands that fall under the Augustine umbrella: Charlo, Amaya, Pretty Basic, Stella Royal, Mrs Pretty and Hey Monday. Kelly designs Augustine & Charlo and has assistants who work with her on her designs from their other labels. A new kimono range was launched on June 22nd, which Kelly is particularly excited about. "I absolutely love these kimonos! You can wear them not only as kimonos, but over shorts for summer, or over jeans for winter." And a t-shirt label, ALASKA Tees, is the next venture. This will see Nathan take his first foray away from the nuts and bolts aspects of the business, as designer of the unisex range due to be launched later this year.

It’s clear, from across her ranges, that she has a love of colour, lots of colour. What’s her favourite? “At the moment it has to be blush pink…and gold; blush pink, teamed with gold.” The interior of the Takapuna store reflects this.“I also like citrus colours…and teal blue.” 

Kelly enjoys the appeal her designs have among ‘mums like me’. She highlights her dislike of following trends, and explains that the business prides itself on inspiring Kiwi women to add colour and style to their daily lives. “I don’t try to be the coolest label. I’m just a mum who lives in the suburbs, like so many others.

“I’ve always maintained that we are for the everyday Kiwi woman; producing clothes she can wear everyday. We’re not going to bring out some of the crazy things you see on the runways. That’s not us.”

So does she feel that it’s time for New Zealand women to move on from activewear? “There are definitely enough people wearing it! I wear it myself, and there’s some great activewear out there, but there’s a time and place for it. There’s a tendency for people just to throw it on because it’s easy. How many mums wear activewear on the school drop off?

“My view is that if you’re not planning on exercising, put on something different, something colourful - be bold!”

Is there anyone whose style she admires and would particularly love to see wearing Augustine? “I see so many different outfits I love on different people, it’s hard to narrow it down to one person. I like Blake Lively, I usually love what she wears…But the one person every designer would love to see wearing their clothes right now has to be Meghan Markle. Yes, she’d have to be the one!” 

Outside of work, Kelly runs every day, coaches her daughter’s netball team, takes the girls to dancing and gym, and loves watching Netflix with them. Does she ever sleep? “Haha, no! Not very much at all at the moment! But not through choice. We have a daughter who’ll turn two in September and who still doesn’t seem to get the hang of sleeping at night!” All this, on broken sleep, with a calm warmth and modesty.

Kelly Coe, your new Shore sisterhood salutes you!


Augustine, 53 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna 09 378 0991 www.augustine.co.nz