After the birth of their son Archer, Carolyn and Matt wanted to find a business that would be able to grow with their family and would also make a difference. At Bow and Arrow, they create beautiful baby clothing made from fine merino, all authentically made in New Zealand, allowing them to stay true to their mission of leaving a better place for their son. They use the best quality merino to make their baby clothes, which is soft and gentle against the most sensitive of skin. Committed to doing their bit for the environment, they limit the use of plastic through the creation of their our own cotton product bags, while using as many local businesses as they can to support and grow the New Zealand-made industry. Here, Carolyn talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about their business journey so far.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
After having our little Archer in March, Matt and I often talked about me (Carolyn) going back to work and figuring out what I wanted to do. When a small business came up for sale and we looked into it, the more we wanted to start something that we could put all the work into and really make it our own. Then we were with friends for dinner talking about the opportunity and a friend mentioned wool. We knew we had to create a product that was made in New Zealand and would support the local industry. It was important to us that we were both passionate about this business as it is for our family. We wanted to show our son that we can do it and support each other through the good times and the trying times.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
After lots of research on the merino industry, we were able to connect with a local business owner in Napier, Harold Trigg, whose family have been in the merino game since 1928 and we knew this was who we wanted to work with. After a trip to the North Island and a great first meeting, we were sold. We immediately knew this was what we wanted and with so many ideas on customising our products, we placed our first order of baby merino.
We started out small with just a handful of products: some tops, pants, beanies and mittens, with so many ideas about where we get to next. We wanted to make sure we were getting the best quality, so testing out the products was important to us. We started with the local Riccarton Markets on a Sunday and were so happy to get good feedback about just how soft it all felt. Once we knew there was a place in the market for us, we looked to expand and got to pick our own colours for our wraps and include our logo.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
Finding our amazing contact in Hastings (Harold Trigg), he was instrumental in getting us over the edge. He had a wealth of knowledge and really wanted us to succeed as he had seen so many people come through and go without success. Everything we have learnt about merino and how it works and on spotting real 100% merino was all through him. Unfortunately, he passed away at the beginning of July and we are so sad that the wool industry has lost someone with such passion for others. He really was our number one supporter.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
We are still learning how to balance everything out. We are lucky to have family close by who watch our little man when we have big events on. We make sure we still have our time as a family even if it means scouting out different markets together, and we often will get work done in the evenings or when Archer is asleep. We are so driven to make this work that our conversations often end up about merino and what we want to do and grow, but this is all for our family and making something we are proud of. I don’t believe there is a perfect model; we can only do what we do and make sure our son knows we are always here and also sees his parents working hard.