Louise Clark

Louise Clark has never worked in retail before, yet she stands confidently behind a bench top held up by timber blocks greeting customers and chatting happily about her new shop.

The Auckland mother of one is combining her passions for recycling, clothing, charity and mental health – the result is The Clothing Collective in Birkenhead's Highbury Shopping Centre.

The Clothing Collective, which opened in January 2015, is an op-shop with a difference. Indeed, this bubbly single mum is giving 50% of her profits to the Mental Health Foundation.

But the support for mental health doesn't end there. Louise, an experienced businesswoman, hopes to use the vast shop space for quality, low cost yoga classes as well as get psychologists and counsellors on board for pro bono work to deliver free services to the community.

Birth of daughter brings challenges

Louise was diagnosed with postnatal depression following the birth of her daughter, Billie, now five years old. 

"I knew right from the get go something wasn’t right but it wasn’t easy talking about it. I remember feeling that I was letting my daughter down by not being able to be the mother I should have been," she says.

Even though when Louise first visited her GP she wasn't entirely honest about how she was feeling – the signs of postnatal depression were apparent on her second GP visit.

Just what the doctor ordered

For Louise, the referral to the maternal mental health unit ended up being exactly what she needed. 

"I remember walking in there, with my hat pulled right down over my head... I suppose it just reflected how I was feeling inside. By the end of those sessions, I wasn’t wearing the hat," she says.

She wonders how life might have turned out if she hadn't been able to access the counselling she needed, which is why she wants to make talking therapies more accessible to those who don't meet the criteria for district health board-funded services.

To keep well, Louise always has a plan and goals – large and small – that push her out of her comfort zone. Having quiet times are also important, as is active movement and learning something new. In fact, Louise is a living example of the Five Ways to Wellbeing: Give, Connect, Be Active, Take Notice and Keep Learning.

How to get involved:

  • If you have any clothes, shoes and accessories in good current condition that you would like to donate, you can drop at the shop on the corner of Highbury Bypass and Birkenhead Ave, Auckland (next to the Burger King drive through). If you can’t make it to the shop, phone Louise on 0275 DONATE or email on donate@theclothingcollective.co.nz and she will arrange pick up.
  • Like and share The Clothing Collective on Facebook.
  • Visit the shop and enjoy some retail therapy: Wednesday to Friday, 9.30am – 4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am – 4pm.
  • Make a donation in store or phone 0508 DONATE.