A young Northland mum hopes a recycled children's clothing venture will give her an income while reducing waste and helping the environment.

Alexandra McGregor, 24, of Moerewa, takes unwanted clothing and transforms it into a range of low-cost children's wear.

Her fledgling business, Eco Style, is one of a record 50 student companies which will be showcased at the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) trade fair at Kerikeri's Old Packhouse Market later this month.

McGregor, who has had four children aged 1 to 6, attends Hiwa-i-te-rangi, the young parent unit at Kaikohe's Northland College.


This year is the first time students at the unit have taken part in YES, a nationwide programme which aims to give students real-life experience of running a business.

McGregor left school aged 15 and was pregnant by 16.

''I thought having a boyfriend was cooler than going to school. I was wrong.''

She had no regrets about her babies but if she could go back she wouldn't have had them so soon.

She enrolled at the unit in February and now has her sewing machine set up in a corner of the classroom.

''I wish I'd found out about this place earlier. They go above and beyond to help and cater to your needs.''

As a full-time student, she is eligible for full-time care for her children, which gives her time to work on her business.

McGregor cuts up clothing her husband and friends throw away or buys bags of used clothes, then gives them new life as children's outfits.


By re-using fabric, she is able to keep costs down, reduce waste and play a small part in looking after Papatūānuku (the Earth mother).

McGregor started sewing when pregnant with her daughter.

''A lot of the clothes I saw were really cool but out of my price range so I bought a $200 sewing machine and started making my own.''

It was a hobby at first, but now she is determined to make it a business.

''My goal is to have a sustainable income so I don't have to go out and ask for help.''

She is selling clothes online via her Eco Style Facebook page and at markets in Moerewa and Kerikeri.

Other students at the young parent unit taking part in YES are Alisha Pai and Holly Smith, who are producing a Māori baby book to fill a gap in the market, and Santana Hobson, who is making gift packs for new mums.

YES Northland coordinator Gary Larkan said 50 student companies had registered for the trade fair, well up on the previous record of 29.

Other products on show will include recycled guitars, rongoā Māori, school ball bouquets, and a bicycle taxi scheme created by international students having trouble getting around Kerikeri because they are too young to drive.

YES is sponsored in Northland by power company Top Energy.

• The YES trade fair is at Kerikeri's Old Packhouse Market, 505 Kerikeri Rd, from 8am-1.30pm on August 17. Everyone who buys a product from a student business will go into a draw for two $250 supermarket vouchers.