The Steamship Trading Company - Julieanne Hayward
Steamship Trading Co
Trunks, Steamship Trading
In a life packed with variety and adventure Julianne Hayward-Walker has consistently nurtured two passions: the first for the ocean, the second for anything old and interesting.
As New Zealand’s only dedicated restorer of sea chests, steamer trunks and vintage suitcases the Aucklander has managed to unite two obsessions in a flourishing home-based business.
Her restored trunks are works of art. Scraped, sanded and polished to gleaming perfection, they recall a glamorous bygone era of ocean travel, grand staterooms and bustling wharves.
They’re also a labour of love – large pieces take around six weeks of hard, hand-chafing work to restore to their original glory. Fortunately Julianne is not the type to fret over a broken fingernail.
“I’m definitely a hands-on person,” she says. “When I’m not working on a piece in the workshop, I’m fixing up the house or restoring the yacht (a 28-footer residing in the driveway). Most of the pieces I restore do take a lot of work. Usually I’ll start by cleaning and airing them thoroughly. Then I’ll strip, sand and oil both the interior and the exterior. Metal corners and buckles are sanded and buffed and missing pieces replaced. It’s a big job – but the result is incredibly satisfying.”
With customers from New Zealand, Australia and the United States, Julieanne’s venture was born of necessity. Low on cash and storage space after the purchase of her family’s Northcote Point villa, she stashed her treasures in some old ship’s trunks she’s collected. She found they fulfilled the task admirably – they were large, portable and attractive enough to display around the house. Julieanne decided to lavish some TLC on her useful antiques and was entranced by the results.
Since then she’s collected all the trunks, chests and suitcases she can find at second-hand stores and antiques fairs and from tip-offs from family, friends and clients. Her favourite pieces are also the oldest and rarest she restores – English and American dome-top sea chests from the early 1800s.
“Those early chests have lovely intricate metal corners and some have beautiful lithographs on the inside lid,” she explains.
Ship’s trunks are not all that Julieanne hoards. The daughter of two antique dealers, she’s spent her life searching out and collecting any vintage bits that catch her eye – from fabrics to crockery, naval memorabilia to kitchen appliances. Her previous business was a vintage fabric and clothing store but five years in retain were enough, she says.
“The wonderful thing about this new business is that it fits in so well with the rest of my live. I’ve got children, I love sailing and getting out and doing things – I don’t have to give up on any of that.”