Welcome to part two of our three part special, delving into the daily lives of awesome Kiwis doing creative things in the community.
Here, we get the 411 from Connor Nestor – co-founder of Ceremony cafe in Grafton and new eatery Homestead in Hillsborough. With so many strings to his bow (he’s also got his own record label and DJs events and parties about town), he’s a hard man to pin down. But we managed to find a spare moment to quiz the 25-year-old on just what makes him tick.
FQ: There’s probably no typical day for you at Ceremony, but on any given day, what sort of things are you getting up to in the café?
Connor: Ceremony is kind of like having all your friends at your house for lunch, but everyday so, I mainly just talk jive and pick records.
What inspired you to start your own business and how did you turn that dream into a reality?
Well, I was living overseas and one of my best boys Charles just sort of told me. He was like, ‘Yo, timing is right, let’s do a shop.’ I really like the idea of project-based work so Ceremony is the project I’ve been doing of late. We just Skyped a bunch about it, then when I got back he had found the site and we jumped right into making it the space people enjoy today.
Prior to this, what were you doing?
I was living in LA getting my ego smashed into the ground trying to get a media job, probably the best thing that happened. I did a bunch of different things, helped out with opening the I Love Ugly flagship LA store, made a radio doco about 30 Kiwis working and living there with my friend Leroy and then moved to NYC to get see what the East Coast was like. Big city life.
Ceremony is more than just a café isn’t it? Tell us about the events you’ve put on and any other creative endeavours.
In a way it is, I mean we just do things that we enjoy doing and think our friends would like. We do a three monthly artist-in-residence thing. We’ve got Ken Griffen at the moment, his work is really exciting. Last year we did a series of evening discussions in the shop called Sweet Talks where we talked about how we can make our city better as individuals then we ate dessert made by Tom from Orphans Kitchen & Jordan (The Caker) that was tight. Also, massive on collabs; did the Nice Mugs with Wundaire, You Do You tote bags with HIGH HØØPS and we’re working on beanies right now with Mavis & Osborne.
You’ve just opened a new café. Is it Ceremony 2.0 or something completely different?
It’s something a bit bigger. Homestead is the name. It’s Charles and me with our friend Sam Mannering, who’s heading up the kitchen. It’s in an art gallery, inside an historic building, in a big grassy domain. We worked again with our architect Nick Sayes to design the space and furniture so it feels really nice in there. The food is delicious and interesting, we still have a big focus on coffee education like we do at Ceremony and its table service.
Who or what inspires you creatively?
Taking it to the top.
Ceremony isn’t the only string to your bow… What other pies do you have your fingers in at the moment?
The shop keep me regular. However, Jordan Arts and I recently started A Label Called Success. It’s a record label in short. We have the fortune of hearing a lot of music before they do anything with it, often it never goes out and no one hears it which is not good for anyone, so we’re just trying to aid in the release of the good stuff. Get it to the right people and help aid a new culture of musical releases from here in Auckland. If it feels good then we’d love to do what we can to get it out. ALCS is the nightshift.
Tell us about your style? Do you dress for comfort when you’re at work being on your feet all day?
I mainly just wear stuff made by friends or people I’ve met. Same thing applies, if it feels good I’ll wear it. I also love wearing Chuck IIs. they’re so comfy. Make my feet feel like they’re on cloud nine all the time.
What do you like to do in your downtime?
Drink Spritzers, pickle vegetables and think.
What other exciting plans do you have in store for the rest of the year?
I think I’d like to get a new car this year. People always make an assumption about you when they see what you drive so I’d like to get something buzzy and old but also kind of high-end. Sounds expensive to maintain but I guess I could also learn to restore cars. I don’t really like cars but maybe I could learn to like them, that could be quite exciting.