I’m really excited to introduce you to Stine from Roots & Wings Merino. I met her while she was in Australia last August at the Kids Life In Style trade show. As a country girl myself I grew up on a sheep farm where my father raised Bond sheep for their Merino wool, so Stine and her label found a special place in my heart.
1. Stine thank you for your time. Let's start with you sharing a bit about your label
Thank you Katrina. The label is really a mix of my Danish roots and my New Zealand home. New Zealand has such an impressive untouched nature with such a wealth of natural products. Denmark on the other hand, is a lot smaller, but has instead focused on using what it’s been given to create beautifully designed interiors and fashion labels.
Roots & Wings Merino delivers this untouched nature from NZ but presented in Danish design and aesthetics.
2. What sets you apart from other fashion labels?
First of all we like to see ourselves as “slow fashion”. We are very conscious of our footprint, the people involved in making our garments, the animal that carries our wool and having a focus on the sustainable part of the business, allowing us to create a product of the highest quality.
We can’t, and don’t wish to, deliver a new fashion collection every 3 months. There is too much waste involved in the fashion industry already and we do not wish to be part of that.
We get everything hand cut and made here in New Zealand. I like having the products made in the country the natural material is from. They are so experienced and know all there is to know about Merino.
3. What has the response been so far?
When we initially started out I wasn’t sure if all parents would put the same emphasis on organic and sustainability as I did. Admittedly, it comes with a cost and we can’t compete with the likes of H&M and Zara on that front. I’ve definitely been positively amazed to see how this is a top priority for many parents, irrespective of household income.
I also see that the new generation of mums have such an emphasis on sustainability, much more than my generation probably did.
So yes, the response has been overwhelming. We have also been picked up by some pretty cool magazines in Europe and also here down under. It’s amazing to see how people respond positively to the brand at opposite ends of the world.
4. What inspired you to start Roots & Wings Merino?
I moved to NZ almost 7 years ago now, to be with my partner, now husband. I left my corporate life a career a few years after moving here, as we live a bit rural. I thought I’d gained so much expertise working and living in so many places (Copenhagen, London, Dubai, Kuwait, Riyadh, Bangkok, a few places in the States) that it was time to put this to good use and start my own business. I discovered Merino when moving to NZ and the more I used it the more I realised how unique and remarkable this product is. Merino was then, and still to some degree is, unknown in Denmark and most of Europe. It really is NZ’s best kept secret. I had started having children and was even more amazed at how this was the perfect fabric to use with babies and kids.
So I decided that Danish children should also have the best of the best. I started Roots & Wings Merino and worked with Danish designers to create a brand that fitted the Scandinavian market.
The name comes from the two greatest gifts we should give our children, Roots to grow and Wings to fly. I could also personally relate to this concept, so that’s how the first steps were taken.
5. Running your own business, let alone a fashion label is hard work and it throws up a lot of challenges. What has been your biggest challenge?
I come from a business background so that side of things I’m very comfortable with. The biggest challenges for me when starting out were “where do I go to get all this made?” From fabric to patternmaking, to finished garments, this was a new world and a very creative world, so learning the ropes have been a fun ride.
The simple designs do require me to work with good designers to get the details and the fit right. I’m very particular about how I want the garments, so finding the right inspiration and designers is always challenging, but fun.
6. Tell us about a major achievement for your label?
The main “hands in the air” situations arise from landing new big clients. We’re probably not advertising this enough, but we wholesale to some very high end places, and it’s such a great feel when they love the product and we receive positive feedback. In general, receiving emails from customers with positive feedback always put a smile on my face.
[Katrina] Shout it from the roof tops Stine, it’s the best form of advertisement!
7. What impact does Social Media have on your business?
Massive! That world can really not be underestimated. There’s so much you can do, and you can always do better. But the key thing is to get started and do something.
A large part of our target group are big users of social media, so we try to communicate as much as we can here and do a bit of advertising from time to time too which usually gives good results.
8. What does style mean to you?
Uniqueness! I admire people who are not afraid to show off their own style and get creative. Anyone could look good in a full designer wardrobe, but that’s not personal or unique. Find your own tune and dance to it.
[Katrina] Oh I love that! ‘Find your own tune and dance to it’, you’re going to see that as one of my Instagram posts
9. Who are your favourite designers?
There are so many talented Danish designers and new ones pop up every time I go back. I do really like Aiayu, beautiful alpaca all made sustainable while supporting local communities. Their look is such a timeless design.
10. Who has been the most famous person seen walking around in your label?
Haha, well we’ve had a few Danish celebrities using our garments and posting on social media. We’ve had a big actress and an Olympian show jumping rider both using our products in the last few months. They are very particular about what brand they buy for their kids as they get approached by so many brands so it’s great when someone like that takes a liking to your product.
[Katrina] When these sorts of parents are finding you and choosing your brand over your competitors it puts a spring in your step I'm sure.
11. Any insight into what's on your mind for the next collection?
We’ve got a few things up our sleeve. Still staying true to our love for Merino. We are just this season launching our new Tweens range for 6-13 yearolds. Such a cool collection and complete re-branding, so we’re excited to get that out there.
[Katrina] That is very exciting indeed. I know there are a lot of parents out there with girls this age (I’m not far away myself) that struggle with the whole appropriate clothing issue. I’m looking forward to the launch. Keep us posted.
12. What piece of advice would you offer someone considering a career in fashion?
The fashion part of running a fashion label is probably 10% of your daily work. If you’re not comfortable with the remaining 90% you should partner up with someone who is. There’s so much competition and talent out there, so if you want to stick it out, you need to also know how to manoeuvre as a business.
[Katrina] Great advice Stine, you might find this as a quote on Instagram as well.
Thank you so much for sharing your passion and a little insight into Roots & Wings Merino. It’s been an honour to work with you last year and a pleasure to have you as a guest blog. Now let’s have a drink to the future of fashion but more importantly... slow fashion.
Katrina & Team x
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