Small business: Collaboration - Simon Pound

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Simon Pound, director of Ingrid Starnes on holding a show together with fellow fashion label, twenty-seven names, at last year's New Zealand Fashion Week

Ingrid Starnes and Simon Pound. Photo / Supplied
Ingrid Starnes and Simon Pound. Photo / Supplied

How did the two fashion brands, Ingrid Starnes and twenty-seven names come to collaborate at Fashion Week? Did you know each other beforehand?

We're both represented by Showroom 22 for press, so have met often over the last few years. Murray Bevan of Showroom 22 suggested we work together as part of a multi-brand fashion event called 'Blue Sky' that he started in 2012 and as we admire twenty-seven names' aesthetic and approach to fashion, we were very interested. They make clever clothes that are special, and they do it locally but sell to the whole world. We really admire what they do and the way they do it. Even their name shows that they are good eggs - it relates to the twenty seven people that had helped them significantly in getting their business off the ground. Cool huh?

What did other fashion designers say? Would others look at doing it too?

Collaboration is very much the go! We share our fashion stores in Newmarket and Ponsonby with Tessuti, a gift and homeware store, and before that we shared Miss Crabb's store.

I think that many fashion designers collaborate and always have ideas and projects on so shows are a natural extension.

Would you have had a show if you hadn't been able to share the costs?

I don't think we could have if Murray hadn't put this together. We had just opened our Newmarket store, and the expense of staging your own show is pretty significant so we weren't in a position to do our own show and be responsible in terms of spending. As a small, made in New Zealand label we have to be very careful about how we use our budgets. Fashion Week is wonderful exposure so it is great to be able to be a part through this shared Blue Sky concept.

How did you go about marketing the show with the two brands?

Having showroom 22 look after the marketing and invites really helps as we could focus on what we do and leave that to the experts. In terms of how it went with having two distinct brands involved, we each have our own markets and complement each other rather than compete, so it was very easy to talk about the shared values we have, for example being a conscious fashion choice and not fast or disposable fashion, about beautiful fabric and make, about local production and intelligent femininity and be able to tell those stories.

Were you happy with the end result?

Very. The event was in the morning, and Atomic coffee come on board to support Blue Sky and they put on a breakfast and coffees for all the guests, so it was a bit different than the evening shows of Fashion Week. There was a great feeling in the room, helped by the coffees and fresh flowers and lovely space. And it is always really magic to be able to tell a story through clothes and music in a show, to get a whole range together and so the themes and ideas can be seen as a whole. To do this with a happy full house and in a lovely setting was really special.

What have you learnt from the experience with twenty-seven names?

Over the years of doing shows we've learnt that we really like to be able to invite our customers as well as media and trade buyers. Fashion Week is interesting as it used to be a trade show, but increasingly it is about looking after our customers and not just buyers. We're really excited about being able to do in-season shows this year and to be able to invite people that support us season after season.

Any tips for others thinking of collaborating on an event?

Good collaboration is like any good relationship. It has to be based on respect, admiration and lots of communication. If you share values and goals and have those ingredients then they allow you to join forces and accomplish things bigger and better than you could on your own. That's why we've shared our retail stores over the years.

Have you any ideas on working with others for the future?

We love collaborating and have a few exciting ideas around art collaborations and a very interesting new project coming up later in the year.

If you are a NZ business selling a product, chances are you have been exporting from the beginning. Tell us your stories of how you are reaching your international markets - is it through distributors or on the ground partners or online and direct? Tell us how you make it work for your business.

- NZ Herald

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