Some people like the slick, sleek lines of modern architecture. Others prefer something with more of a backstory.

Chris Edmeades and her partner Geoff Orchard very much fall into the latter camp. In 2000, they bought a lifestyle property complete with a heritage building on the outskirts of Hamilton and transformed it into a thriving cafe and events venue.

“I was drawn to this darling old building,” says Chris. “It was ramshackle and rundown but I didn’t care; I just love everything old. I went out and saw it at sunset and immediately fell in love with it.” The property is steeped in history. Originally built as a dairy factory in 1900, it has also lived a life as a fertiliser factory. When Chris and Geoff bought the property, it was also home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest miniature rose nursery which they operated for two years while they planned their next steps: to turn the dairy factory’s old creamery into a cafe called The Olde Creamery.

Much of what goes on at The Olde Creamery has been driven by public demand.

“One day a lady came in and asked if we did conferences,” says Chris. “‘Yes!’ I lied, ‘we do conferences, no problem!’ even though we’d never thought about it before. Well, they’ve been coming to us for 15 years so that’s been a delightful add-on that we’d never thought of.”

The same thing happened with weddings. “Someone asked, ‘Do you do weddings?’ ‘Yes!’ I lied, as I quickly thought about how we could. Since then, we’ve held many small, intimate weddings at The Olde Creamery which has been just lovely.” Then eight years ago, Chris and Geoff had a devastating fire. “We lost everything you need to run a conference or a wedding. All that was le was what was inside the cafe. But once the smoke had cleared, we realised that you’ve got to make something good out of a bad situation, so we rebuilt.”

One thing Chris and Geoff learnt after the fire was how important having the right insurance was.

“You never insure thinking it’s actually going to happen. But FMG were amazing. They were so supportive; they really blew us away.

“FMG is so proactive and approachable. They contact us to say that our policies are up for renewal, and they come into the cafe and we have a chat over a coffee. “They’ve been right beside us every step of the way. We’ll never go anywhere else.”

Credit: Stuff Ltd