Small business: Minnie Cooper - making shoes in NZ

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Sandy Cooper, founder of Auckland shoe company, Minnie Cooper.

Sandy Cooper, owner of Minnie Cooper, a shoe and handbag shop on Ponsonby Rd in Auckland. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Sandy Cooper, owner of Minnie Cooper, a shoe and handbag shop on Ponsonby Rd in Auckland. Photo / Paul Estcourt

At Minnie Cooper, we manufacture and retail our own shoe and bag range as well as our own imported range of knitwear. We supply our own three retail outlets only and have a very successful online business.

Why we choose to manufacture in NZ

The main reason we manufacture in New Zealand is the absolute pleasure of being completely involved in the whole process of designing a product and seeing it develop and evolve in our factory. Producing a great shoe or bag requires knowledge and skill from everyone in the factory and we all get great satisfaction from seeing a job beautifully done.

I'm personally obsessed with the loss of manufacturing jobs and it's effect on New Zealand so I'm very, very happy that Minnie Cooper creates good satisfying jobs, and an excellent product that everyone in the company is proud and happy to be involved with.
Customers frequently tell us of the warm glow they feel when purchasing a NZ made product. We have a lunchroom wall of emails from very happy customers and a constant theme in them is the pleasure of buying something good made here.

Exporting the Minnie Cooper brand

We export in the form of our online sales of which close to 50 per cent are to Australia.
Many expat NZers are very pleased to have NZ made goods and Australian customers are just so happy to find shoes of a style and quality that no longer exists for them now that their footwear industry has gone.

Manufacturing knowhow

The manufacturing expertise we have is experience. Everyone here has been in footwear for all or most of their working lives and have a huge amount of knowledge built up over that time. Between us we have around 350 years experience!

What we are up against

The main challenge to manufacturing here is the ageing workforce. We're all getting on and as the industry has contracted so much over the last twenty years, there haven't been the new entrants coming in to the trade.

We also rely on the goodwill of our suppliers. We are the last customer of the insole manufacturer and it's thanks to his very good nature that we continue to be supplied by him.

The other challenge manufacturing here is the obvious one of competitiveness on price.

Our shoes are expensive but we think good value and we are very lucky to have customers who appreciate that quality and integrity come at a price.

Leverage our NZ made brand

We often market our NZ made story by naming the staff involved in the manufacturing process. Our aim is to highlight the fact that our shoes are made here in New Zealand and this creates real and satisfying jobs in our local community.

I feel very strongly that New Zealanders should support local manufacturers and producers. By doing this consumers create jobs and become part of the economic solution without waiting for unlikely government action. Consumers actually have a massive amount of instant power to influence NZ's economic situation.


How can a board help SMEs make sound decisions and take brave steps? What have boards done for some of our fast growing SMEs?

- NZ Herald

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