Bridge Street Collective owner to move to New York

Photo by Alden Williams / Fairfax NZ

The man behind a buzzing hub of businesses on Nelson's Bridge St is preparing to leave Nelson's shores - but his ventures in the city will not be disappearing any time soon. 

Bridge Street Collective owner Galen King is moving to New York in Autumn for a "working sabbatical" with his family for a couple of years, but he will continue to oversee his vibrant projects in Nelson. 

The former Waimea College student now has a family with three children, and he and his wife had always planned to travel with their kids, he said. He plans to return to Nelson afterwards. 

"It's a family adventure, and a positive spin off from that is a chance to grow my creative work as well," he said. 

King started his design company Lucid 15 years ago. He currently has clients from the United States and he plans to make more connections while he is in New York. 

"Then I'll have the team at Lucid carrying the torch on the ground here, I'm totally confident they will thrive," he said. 

After living in other business hubs away from Nelson he was inspired to build something similar when he arrived back home five years ago. 

"I'd seen Wellington and it's collaborating businesses and I came to Nelson excited about that," he said. 

Fast-forward five years and King has built his Bridge Street Collective project into a hive of creatives working in the same space together. 

"People here have different strengths and they play nicely together - it's an environment where they can encourage and support each other," he said. 

He is now transitioning the Bridge Street Collective into a not-for-profit organisation for the community. 

King said he will probably remain as chair of the board that runs the collective.

"Ultimately the vision is for it to become a community asset and it serves to grow start-ups," he said. 

"People will get more involved if it becomes everyones thing, not just mine."

Alongside the Bridge Street Collective, King has been developing the empty space next door and intends to make it into a "laneway" between Bridge St and New St filled with pop-up businesses in containers - not unlike Christchurch's Re:Start Mall.

"The idea is to create small micro-spaces for small businesses - like market stall holders and hospitality food carts," he said. 

He is currently working with engineers who also worked on Re:Start Mall and is hoping to begin signing people up to operate from the space within the next two months. 

While King will be sad to leave before the space is complete, he was pleased to be leaving behind an "awesome team" who would continue to drive the project. 

"We're all very aligned in terms of it being a community asset."

He said the various projects he has worked on in Nelson have been "fulfilling" because he has watched the community grow from it. 

"What I do for work is what I love doing. I can create businesses that have a greater impact on the community," 

His passion for building entrepreneurs and growing businesses stemmed from his parents - they were community-driven and often housed woofers (travellers working on organic farms in exchange for free accommodation) on their lifestyle block when he was growing up. 

"I was inspired by creating as many ventures that benefit as many people as possible."

But with three children aged 10, 3 and 1 - his family is now his first priority.

"It's kind of hard building a community when you can't be out and about doing that," he said.

"So my goal is to encourage everyone to build the community."

He said leaving Nelson was bitter-sweet but was excited about where the city is headed. 

"What I'd love to see is all these empty second floor office spaces in town fill up with creative people - that would be the ultimate."