Our People

Nicole Forster

Business owner at The Shoe Curator

As a little girl living in Wolverhampton UK, Nicole was into everything… she enjoyed trying every hobby from football to ballet to kick boxing. She loved all types of clothes and fashion, from the classic 90s tracksuit to a sparkly dress. She enjoyed the company of all types of people from the old folks at church to the variety of children on her housing estate. She listened to every type of music from Elvis to Destiny’s Child and LOVED almost all types of food.

From an early age Nicole liked helping people – in any way she could. And that was how her journey of shoe curating began. Of course, Nicole loved shoes – all types of shoes, from the Nike Air Max 90s to the sparkly stiletto heel, with a grungy Doc Martin in between. And she had a knack for pairing shoes with people …helping friends match shoes to outfits or just seeing something that she KNEW a person would love and sharing it with them.

Nicole was a bright student and at the end of school explored university options but had started working at McDonalds part time at 16 and fell in love with ‘working’. She loved the fast pace, the industrious productivity, and the many opportunities for progression. Working day to day with people gave her joy and she progressed to management roles before even finishing school. So instead of moving on to further full-time study she opted for full time work, and part time study, with a couple of other side-gigs to keep her busy!

Unfortunately, soon after leaving school Nicole’s friend passed away in a tragic car accident. Kayleigh had dreamed of moving to America to become an actress and they had discussed their dreams together in English classes. Nicole was certain Kayleigh would live an extraordinary and adventurous life, and she wished to do the same. The fact that Kayleigh couldn’t fulfill her dreams made Nicole more determined to do so.

Australia was as far away as one could get from Wolverhampton, so that was where Nicole started her travels. She met many people along the way who often asked if she had been to New Zealand yet – and assured her she would LOVE it!

At 21 Nicole arrived in New Zealand and found that it immediately felt like home. The Kiwi ingenuity, and propensity to ‘’just get on with it’ resonated with this young, ambitious lover of life. The little city (aka big village) of Christchurch was everything Nicole had hoped. Big enough to have lots going on, but small enough to feel like a community where there is (at most) 1 degree of separation!

Nicole lived in the central city initially and fell in love with New Regent Street. This was the place she wanted to own a business ‘one day’.

Over the next 13 years Nicole built a career and life in Christchurch. Working at ACC initially, her final day at work was the first of the Christchurch earthquakes… Nicole and her husband lost their home in Shirley just as Nicole started a new job at Castle Recruitment in the CTV Building. Castle was the recruitment arm of the Kings Education School. This business expanded, opening a store front in Shades Arcade at the end of 2010. Sadly, things took a turn when the February earthquake hit. Kings and Castle lost many staff, students and one of their directors in the collapse of the CTV building.

The business was sold into Ryman Healthcare, and after a few short months, Nicole was fully welcomed into the Ryman family, being appointed to their sole charge HR role. Over the next 10 years Nicole progressed through HR Management at Ryman to eventually become the Chief People and Technology Officer. During that time Nicole also began the most important role in her life – mother to Daisy and Alfie.

It was during Covid that Nicole decided it was time for a change and wished to follow her dream of setting up a business of her own. After a lifetime of being the ‘go-to person’ for shoes, it seemed obvious where to start… and the stars aligned when a store became available on her favourite street - New Regent Street.

So, she engaged her friends… Founding employee and now General Manager Maree Neumann to help set up the business systems, Matt Wright and Hayley Sharp to become the first ‘models’, and Charlie Jackson as Creative Director for the brand, website, and imagery. With the support of many other friends and old colleagues, ‘The Shoe Curator’ was born.

I asked Nicole to describe the style of the shoes and her vision. “I had difficulty finding the shoes I like in New Zealand, as I don’t like wearing what everyone else is wearing. I wanted stand-out shoes that were unique and sexy, with a bit of edge… I love shoes and people, so our business model was founded on ‘socialising with shoes’- bringing together a community of shoe lovers who also care about people. We have purposeful sales goals, as we give most of our profit out to local causes through donations and sponsorships.

Since The Shoe Curator is more of a social enterprise for Nicole, she continued to do private consulting work while setting up the business, as well as sitting on the MBIE Regional Skills Leadership Group and Chairing the New Regent Street Business Association.

Nicole recently became the General Manager at Southern Cross Hospital. While she loves her growing shoe kindred and the work they do at The Shoe Curator, she was missing healthcare and feels overwhelming ‘lucky’ to be able to now do both.

Nicole is passionate about Christchurch and her business environment. We were keen to find out what business she loves and believes is doing a great job here in the city.

Youngs Jewellers (run by Rebecca Stewart) is my favourite boutique store in Christchurch. It is a perfect example of a business owner who has a passion for her product and specializes in bringing unique, high quality and special items to Christchurch. The perfect way to treat yourself or someone you love to something that is meaningful and will last a lifetime.

Story (run by Shafeeq Ismail) is my favourite restaurant – because they also specialize in unique… Food that is made from local ingredients to a very high standard and has a small and cosy environment. The service is impeccable but most of all the food is incredibly yummy!

Studio 42 (run by Colette Inkster) is my favourite activity-based business. It is a fairly unique musical theatre/dance school that is welcoming of all people, all ages, from all backgrounds. Somehow managing to avoid the standard ‘dance school bite’, S42 brings joy to all of its members and my children are the better for going there.



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