At the Gem Retail Hotlist, Hunting Ground picked up the ‘Hottest retail business under two years in operation’ award. Here’s how they did it.
New Zealand has proved fertile hunting ground for Tina and Sian Kolose, who launched their online vintage streetwear and designer store just 18 months ago. Inspired as children by their Aunty Cathy’s op-shopping prowess, the sisters have been keen vintage lovers, but felt the scene was lacking.
“We’d both worked in retail before, we worked in vintage and second hand stores,” says co-founder of Hunting Ground, Sian Kolose, 30. “But we wanted to do our own thing and start something that was relevant to us and people like us.”
Initially launching as an online only store, the sisters have always put a real focus on personal service.
“We want people to feel comfortable, we don’t just want to push what we’ve got on them,” says Sian. “We want to have something for every single person. One of our biggest tools at the start was Instagram and we spent a lot of time messaging people back, interacting with our customers, asking them what they wanted. We would go the extra mile – if they were looking for certain things we would try and find it for them, even if it wasn’t something we had in stock.”
The Kolose sisters also use real people in their marketing, not just models. Instagram also became a talent pool, with their actual customers promoting their clothes. They’ve also connected with local artists.
At the start of August, they opened their first bricks and mortar store.
“It’s kind of a pop up, but it’s where we run our online business from too, and where we do all our photo shoots,” says Sian. “We always planned to have a physical space – we were just waiting for the right space and the right time. And we’ve had such an amazing response. A lot of people have come down who have seen it posted on Instagram. It’s really great to put faces to people we’ve been talking to online.”
As Samoan women under 35 in business, the sisters are appealing to a very specific group of people they felt weren’t represented. The vintage scene, Tina notes, has been quite male dominated until recently. But they’ve also created a business very much centred around their own personal style.
“We wanted to sell clothing that we felt passionate about,” says Sian. “We’re both tomboys so a lot of this stuff is unisex. I mean, everything is gender neutral really. We get a very diverse crowd in this store.”
Hunting Ground has proven to be a really fresh voice in the market, and one that speaks to an under-represented but well-defined audience in a unique way.
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 764 October/November 2019.