Building an exclusive business around a niche creative outlet in provincial New Plymouth is a dream come true for mother-daughter team Belinda and Louise Hunt of Lushington Jackets. In today’s interview, we hear from Louise how the process of creating a designer label unfolded and how in time she sees it growing wings to fly to Wellington, Australia and even Europe.
Lushington Jackets is the brain child of designer seamstress, Belinda Hunt who began her business as a home-based venture in 2014. In the years preceding, daughter, Louise remembers her mother always sewing what she calls ‘fashion forward’ garments, from baby clothes to ball dresses. Louise sites a pivotal moment when demand for Belinda’s clothes escalated and she decided to seek a mentor in renowned fashion designer, Annah Stretton. Instead, she was employed on the spot to design four collections for Annah, the experience highlighting a gap in the designer jacket market.
The Lushington Jackets label was created – based on the family name pre-dating the 1700’s – original bespoke garments, tailor-made to be worn on multiple occasions and to last for many years. Fabrics are sourced from Auckland and according to Louise, her mum can ‘just see a bolt and know the style immediately’, such is the designer’s intuition.
The label quickly became a serious business which outgrew the family home and needed a centralised commercial location. Louise finished her communications degree and came straight from university to join her mother in opening a retail store on the main street of New Plymouth. She describes how the milestone of setting up shop for such a specialised business has presented some hurdles:
- Initial difficulties in finding the right professional advisors to establish workable administration systems
- The dearth of relevant industry knowledge available to help set pertinent goals and targets
- Creating a business relationship alongside a familial one and staying professionally focused
- Trialling different forms of brand promotion to gauge best response
- Overcoming ‘commercial novice’ nerves and developing relationships with customers
- Promoting a little-known brand and pushing to be accepted by the big fashion players in New Zealand.
Louise explains how important it is to establish the foundations of the business early on to circumnavigate or minimise these challenges. She suggests getting a support team on board to give momentum and encouragement. She also advises putting systems in place at the outset and seeking mentor support to help with professional direction, and to offer guidance on how to upskill or outsource.
Louise’s strategic focus and passion for the Lushington brand has enabled her to persevere with her intent to build her data base and expand to other main centres. She has an outlet in a Dunedin store which in time will allow a presence at New Zealand Fashion Week and a pop up (trial) store in Wellington is on the horizon. She already has a VIP clientele, including MP Paula Bennet and affirms that Belinda’s determination to hand make quality garments with exquisite attention to detail places the label in a unique yet accessible market of its own. Louise says a boutique in Europe would be ‘a dream come true’.
To find out more …
Marketing Agency Louise Refers to: