Glow Job: Turning on Dunedin’s neon scene.
Once rampant on the streets of Dunedin, you could find them on every street corner and down dark alleyways. However, over the years the price went up and the craft was lost. Luckily, a Dunedin duo is looking to sink their teeth in and erect them once again, in the hope of returning Dunedin to its former glory.
I’m talking of course about neon signs and fledgling startup company, Glow Job, a bright idea by Bridie O’Leary and Michael Henriquez to create custom neon signs for the people. Their lightbulb moment came when looking online for affordable custom neon for themselves, but came up short of cool designs, and money.
“We learned that traditional glass neon is super expensive, but justified due to the hours, skill and love that goes into it. By accident we came across flexible LED strips that looked like neon so we ordered some, experimented with some designs and next thing you know we had dozens of orders. Now you’ll find our glowies in homes and businesses all over Dunedin.”
Dunedin actually had a great neon scene, steeped in history. While it’s no Vegas, signs like ‘Can’t Stop’, aka the Arthur Barnett’s horse, Fresh Freddie, Barton’s Butchery and the Regent Theatre were ahead of their time and are some of the oldest, most recognisable neon signs in New Zealand. But it’s the smaller, more bespoke neon that captured Bridie’s imagination.
“If you look closely, Dunedin is bathed in neon. From the walls of Good Good, to the chicken on Rattray St. My favourite would have to be the vet in Mornington. It’s simple, but it just compliments the building so well. I’d love to buy that place one day and turn it into a seedy bar and keep the sign!”
However, Glow Job was an idea you couldn’t pick up and run with anywhere, reckons Michael.
“We couldn’t have done this anywhere else, that’s for sure. The cheaper cost of living in Dunedin allowed us to leave our fulltime jobs which gave us creative freedom to give this a crack. Try doing that in Auckland or Wellington where rent alone would chew through your life savings in a matter of weeks!”
“It was also the supportive arts and business community that helped up get us off the ground. We draw inspiration many of the local artists here and even collaborate with some of them. We’re not overly business savvy either but Dunedin has some great initiatives for startups like the Challenger series that we were part of. This gave us invaluable mentoring, contacts and inspiration. Dunedin is a great place to be if you have an idea and want to see where you can take it.”
For now, Bridie and Michael are going to dim the lights on their Dunedin chapter and relocate to Wellington for the short term in an attempt to up their Glow Job game, while retaining their core value of creating handmade, unique, one-of-a-kind, neon works of art.
“Dunedin has and always will be home and has been great at nurturing us to where we are now. We’re keen for a slight change of scene and to see where we can take Glow Job next. We will be back though, that’s for sure.”
It’s fair to say Glow Job has a bright future indeed… if they don’t blow it.
Check out Glow Job’s amazing work here: https://www.glowjob.nz/
Post submitted by Hayden Parsons