Where did your love of fashion stem from?
The interest has always been there since I was young. I grew up in Mataura and my mum did a lot of sewing, so I learned from a young age. I started by making dolls’ clothes and progressed to making my own ball gown at Gore High School. I went on to study Fashion Design at Otago Polytechnic and Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and I lived in Tauranga for 14 years before we decided to head down to Gore with our three pre-schoolers for about six months, but eight years later we’re still here!
How did Wadzee Fashion Design come about?
I had trained and worked as a bridal designer for many years. I loved the challenge of making dreams come to life for the client, but about four years ago, my husband Craig got very sick and not long after our daughter did too. I was quick to realise that hospitals and wedding deadlines did not work, so a change was needed and Wadzee was the solution. Now, everyone’s healthy and happy living in beautiful Southland with the amazing support our business gets from our local community.
What is your business all about?
I make a variety of smart-casual streetwear clothing and accessories, with a focus on introducing new designs every week, many of them being limited to one of each size. I’m based from home, so in between school runs and family time I spend my time in the office or out in my workroom designing, drafting and grading patterns, sampling and tweaking garments, cutting and sewing.
Where do you find your design inspiration?
Most of my designs are what I enjoy to wear myself. They are based on comfortable stylish looks for busy women on the go. I love bold colours and prints. I do a lot of colour blocking and work with local graphic designers and signwriters for our prints. Sometimes I have a design first then find fabric that will work, and other times I see the fabric first and design with it.
Where are your customers from and how do they find you?
Since we don’t have a shop front we mostly meet our customers at local markets, fetes and pop-up shops. We’ve also had the website for more than a year now and found that it opened up a whole new avenue for clients, so we now send our garments all over New Zealand.
What are you most proud of?
I always get the warm fuzzies when I see people I don’t know wearing a piece of Wadzee clothing. It’s a very cool buzz. I’m also extremely proud of the section wins I’ve had at the Hokonui Fashion Design Awards and my wins at the Tauranga Races and Bay of Plenty Bride of the Year in the gown that I made myself.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the flexibility. I can attend school assembly and sports day, then work into the wee small hours and weekends to get the work done. We are very fortunate that we were able to create our business with such flexibility. I think this quote from Angelina Jolie pretty much sums us up. “I think if you love what you do, and the choices you’ve made in your life, somehow that drives you forward to enjoy it all. Even the chaos, even the exhaustion of it, and even when it seems out of balance.”
What tips can you offer for juggling family life with a busy business?
I’m very much still learning, but hard work and long hours do pay off. Discover which areas of your life you need to focus on yourself and get help with the rest.
What’s in your wardrobe?
Since being in business myself my shopping habits have changed. I now pretty much only buy New Zealand designers’ clothing, especially if they are made here as well.
Where do you see your business in ten years’ time?
We’re definitely keen on pushing forward with Wadzee. My daughter who is 12 years old frequently speaks of the time when she will work for Wadzee, so who knows? Only time will tell!
Story by Andie Gentle
supplied by The Life magazine and Market South.