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Heather’s Story

Heather Sulzberger is one of those people who you have seen around Crave for years but you probably don’t know very much about at all.

That’s just the way she likes it.

Not that Heather’s stand-offish or aloof—the opposite is the truth. It’s just that she’s not the person who will make a lot of noise about being present, or be the first to give her opinion, or speak quickly about things she hasn’t had time to reflect on. She thinks before she talks, doesn’t take a firm position on things quickly, if at all, and, let’s be honest, would rather be tending her plants than sitting in the spotlight.

Which makes her the perfect 2IC for Cathie Cottle at KIND, Morningside’s latest cafe, and the person responsible for keeping KIND’s greenery alive and thriving.

‘Plants are my main love in life,’ says Heather. ‘They’re the only thing that makes me feel vaguely excited about anything.’

But hold on. Isn’t Heather getting married in the New Year? It sounds like new hubby Kent will be taking a back seat to seedlings and shrubbery.

‘My fiancé, he’s an amazing guy,’ says Heather. ‘Super relational, he fills all the things that I’m terrible at. I’ve always found relationships difficult, so it’s always been about learning the hard way the whole time. But I feel like I’ve landed in a spot where I can do that now.

‘I remember my Oma telling me to find someone who is kind. You get to a point where you’re more comfortable and I think that’s where I’m getting to.’

Heather describes herself as someone who naturally floats around and commits to nothing. She goes with the flow, drifts into things, like a theology degree she did at Laidlaw College several years ago. She was at a moment in her faith where she could have let it go, or study it in more depth. She decided on the latter.

Heather also acknowledges that being a person who drifts can sometimes mean that you hold yourself back from things.

‘You’re never in anything,’ she says. ‘So I’m trying to engage with things rather than just observe.’

I point out the irony that she is on the verge of making three big commitments: marriage, membership of the Crave Collective, and a new job, with a lot more responsibility. As Heather shows the early signs of an anxiety attack, I suspect she hasn’t thought much about the convergence of those three. So, we move quickly back to plants, and what she hopes to achieve with KIND — a social enterprise cafe with the goal of encouraging Morningsiders to be kinder to themselves, to one another, and to the environment.

‘I think KIND will drive a lot of neighbourhood awareness of how to live greener,’ Heather says. ‘It’s a journey. We might not start off perfectly, but slowly we’ll become more and more kind to the environment, to the best that we can.

‘We’ll also do more community stuff around how each person in the neighbourhood can get involved and do more in their household. That’s quite cool. If you can inspire people in a beautiful space then it can help.

‘We really want to encourage people to bring their own cup, so we’re looking at award systems for that. It’s just so important. Once you’re on the buzz, it’s hard to get off it. Once you care, it’s hard to un-care.’

KIND will also introduce a loyalty scheme with a twist—if you buy eight coffees you’ll receive a seedling. It’s all part of the KIND vibe, which is a French open courtyard feel, with lots of plants inside and out, lots of windows and communal tables. In other words, a place to soak up the kindness, the light, the oxygen, and the fresh air. Not to mention the coffee and the teas.

Which is right up Heather’s alley.

‘The more plants the better,’ she says. ‘I like having as much green in my space as possible. My favourite thing to do on a Saturday is go out to our nursery in Waimauku and look at plants. I just walk through the rows of plants — it’s incredible. I love them so much. They’re like children.’