Perhaps because of Gen Z’s self-reflective nature, the quintessential TikTok often includes a substantial dollop of conversations around healing the inner child. The hashtag, #innerchild has gathered more than 790 million views on the social media platform, while the popularity of songs such as Where’d All the Time Go? and Go Little Rockstar reflect users’ nostalgic longing to embrace their inner childlike characteristics, which may have been neglected or abandoned.
Whether there is merit in TikTok’s therapeutic value, there is no denying that among dread and uncertainty, we turn to things we know well and that give us comfort. My own childhood fashion was anchored in the delight of sparkly butterfly clips, sassy shades and cute kicks, which would light up at every skip and hop, and these days I still get excited by a fruity print or some funky earrings.
A fun colour or accessory can bring so much joy to the day and the people around you who are probably feeling similarly jaded by the ordinary. Finders Keepers Boutique is one place that welcomes this childlike experimentation,offering a range of Kawaii-inspired items, such as lollipop and cupcake earrings, fruit patches, cherry and floral embroidered cardigans.
Taylor Watson, who lives in Ōtepoti/Dunedin, set up an online clothing shop at 17 years old “for a bit of fun”, which materialised as Finders Keepers Boutique on Stuart St a few years later. Nearly 10 years on, her business is in full throttle, bringing fun and exploration to all. She reflects on her journey, and the power of embracing your own inner child through personal style and self-expression.
Before opening my business, I was always creating and starting projects. In high school my main focus was Japanese and art. My first jobs were in retail, customer service and office work, so I totally just blended all my skills together and jumped into the deep end of opening a business. I had no idea what I was doing, but it brought me joy, so I just followed that.
I absolutely love my quirky little small business, and it gives me so much freedom to create, play and meet like-minded people. My store doesn’t take itself too seriously; it’s all about experimenting, having fun and embracing colour. I want my customers to find their own unique style and to explore that. All items are handpicked, from curated vintage to pre-loved, handmade and new.
I think what makes FKB different is that it’s a total experience. As soon as you walk in, all your senses are stimulated. Everything is bright, bold and fighting for your attention and many items invoke the feeling of nostalgia. It’s about rummaging and wearing things that just make you feel happy.
I encounter customers of all ages: inquisitive 3-year-olds and 5-year-olds picking presents for their mother with their dad, teenagers having fun and experimenting with styles, tourists who have set their travel plans to specifically come to my store, and even local customers in their 60s and 70s buying really fun, bold jewellery and spiked chokers. That makes me smile so much!
It’s a place that kind of transports you to another world to just unwind, take your time and find things that make your heart sing.
I want my customers to feel a sense of childlike awe. While I offer a range of different styles and eras, the main theme is definitely this heavenly cuteness.It’s comforting in a way. I think that’s why I am drawn to this style of fashion, it’s like playing dress up when you’re a child, before you knew what was ‘trendy’.
Growing up I always loved thrifting and finding hidden gems. Any time I would see a garage sale sign my eyes would light up, and I would yell ‘stop the car!’ I started collecting vintage from all over the world through eBay and Etsy. I began doing markets and selling on Trade Me. I eventually had such a collection I decided to open a pop-up shop. Little did I know I’d make that into a full-time career.
The shop has morphed over the years, as I have. It was my trips to Japan that really made me go in the direction I am now. I’ve always been obsessed with Japanese Harajuku street fashion. I was granted an exchange to Japan in high school, and that was when my love for fashion all started.
Most of my time (especially because of the pandemic) goes into making jewellery in my studio. I work with clay, wood, resin, natural fibres, imported charms and recycled vintage jewellery.
It’s definitely been a learning curve running a full-time business by myself! I got diagnosed with a chronic illness, ulcerative colitis, a form of bowel disease, before the pandemic hit and that was certainly overwhelming.
I was shocked when I had my first biopsy and wastold the words ‘incurable... you will have this for life’.There’s been a lot of tears, however my business and customers help give me a reason every morning to get up and focus, which I am so grateful for. My followers have helped sign petitions I have shared online for the IBD community, supporting New Zealanders suffering in silence from this debilitating disease.
With the pandemic, we lost our cruise ships and large local market events. But you have to adapt – using social media has been absolutely crucial and my customers have been so supportive throughout!
This story was also published on Stuff and in Sunday magazine. This is a Public Interest Journalism funded role through NZ On Air