Liz Collins started clothing company Chalkydigits in 2000 while living in Wanaka after seeing a gap for more stylish clothing for the outdoor environment (the name relates to the chalk that rock climbers put on their fingers).
Now based in Christchurch, the brand has moved to more of a quality fashion brand. Ms Collins, who has a background in graphic design and advertising, is committed to having all her clothing made in New Zealand, despite the expense, and likes to use environmentally- friendly fabrics such as merino and organic cotton where practical. The brand is stocked in more than 50 stores nationwide and the 35-year- old is beginning to make inroads into the Australian market.
What have been the biggest obstacles in running your own company?
This industry is quite small with some large fabric importers who have a bit of a monopoly and it can be hard to get the fabrics and accessories you need — the obstacle is the price. I also want to increase people’s awareness of New Zealand made and why they should support that. We’re in competition against a flood of cheap imports coming into the country. We try to encourage people to buy something that is of better quality rather than a lot of cheaper things. Resources are an obstacle – to have the money to put into marketing and create that brand awareness.
Name one thing you’ve learnt in business.
You have to be really passionate about your business because it is hard and you have to keep going and going even when it sometimes feels so difficult. There’s always another challenge, another mountain to climb, so you have to love what you’re doing. Another important thing I’ve learnt is growing slowly in business. I’ve seen a lot of businesses fall apart because they don’t have the right systems and relationships with suppliers. I’m an impatient person but I’ve learnt to build it up slowly.
Image from Chalkydigits