We know you care about where your children’s clothes come from, what they’re made of and even how they are made. Responsible, ethical, locally-made clothing is something we fully support, so we talked to MARGOT + FAR to find out a little more about their responsible fashion business. MARGOT + FAR is a premium children’s fashion line who choose to manufacture locally using sustainable, ethically sourced bamboo and certified organic cotton – children’s clothing designed and made in New Zealand.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
Creating a “responsible” premium children’s brand seemed a logical choice for me for a few reasons. Firstly, because I love fashion. I’ve always been a sucker for a pretty dress and I get a kick out of dressing my kids beautifully. Secondly, as my kids moved on from the toddler stage, it became hard to find them clothing which ticked the same boxes that so many New Zealand baby wear brands do, specifically: high quality, locally made, timeless colours, classic styling, and ethically sourced fabrics.
And I felt sure there would be other families out there who share my discomfort with the high volume nature of the High Street chain stores – not to mention my frustration with garments that fall apart or loose their shape after just a few washes.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I had a very clear aesthetic in mind from the outset, and I knew I wanted to start with a core collection approach that I could build on for seasons to come.
Fabric selection was key for me -I felt there was no point in proceeding if I wasn’t able to find premium quality, ethically-sourced fabrics to work with. It took a while, but eventually I found some great suppliers who were able to deliver exactly what I was after.
The design stage came next – because I wanted to develop apparel for girls and boys, the scope of possible styles was really quite large. This meant I had to be disciplined with my decisions about which pieces to focus on initially. I don’t have a formal design background so I was incredibly lucky that my friend (and all-time favourite Kiwi designer) Tanya Carlson helped me enormously with translating my ideas onto paper.
Once I was happy with the preliminary design sketches I was able to speak with a professional pattern maker about creating a first set of sample garments.
From there, it was all about road-testing the samples, tweaking patterns and editing the collection in certain areas, and then moving onto the stock production stage. I was really lucky with the team I used to manufacture the collection – they work with some of NZ’s top designers so the quality of their work is superb, they were generous with their advice, and always willing to help answer my questions.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I felt very much like I was heading out into the unknown when I decided to start MARGOT + FAR – so much was completely new to me, and I know there is still so much to learn. The adventure of a new project was (and still is) exciting and but the week I officially unveiled the collection was pretty scary – luckily the feedback I received was amazing. I’m not sure if you could say that was a breakthrough as such, but to discover that other people share my values and ideas with respect to responsible fashion, specifically for children, was very encouraging and really motivates me to keep moving forward.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
A key reason for starting the business was to give me the flexibility to be at the school gate at 3pm, so I try hard to work only during school hours. That’s not always possible and there have been plenty of times when I’ve worked into the evenings after the kids are asleep. Overall though I think I am managing to balance my family’s needs pretty well – I know I’m very lucky.