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Regional rollercoaster: Selling to the Kardashians from Matiere

  • News
  • April 24, 2019
  • Rachel Helyer Donaldson
Regional rollercoaster: Selling to the Kardashians from Matiere

In the final article from NZ Retail magazine's nine-part series on regional retail, we're sharing the amazing story of how SME retailer Solvej Swings got its product into the home of one of the world's most influential consumers.

New Zealand SME retailer and wholesaler Solvej Swings may be based in the King Country and serve just 35 stockists, but its handcrafted children’s swings have caught the eye of one of the world’s most famous mothers: Kourtney Kardashian.

Kardashian included the product in her 2018 holiday gift guide, encouraging her social media following of 109 million to shop with Solvej.

Jenny Etherington owns and runs the business with husband Thomas Mortimer. She says she “can’t begin to comprehend” how her products ended up on the global celebrity’s radar, but the opportunity is very exciting.

 “It’s kind of crazy to think when we are here in small rural Matiere sewing our swings that they may end up in amazing homes in LA, like Kourtney Kardashian’s,” Etherington says.

“The feedback to her post so far has been wonderful! It’s heart-warming to see how excited our customers and friends are for us. Reactions from locals in our town have been particularly cool – it turns out many never knew about us and they find it really exciting to know that something made in our small unassuming village is even known overseas or by a celebrity!”

Etherington shared some thoughts about operating rurally with NZ Retail.

Do you have a favourite regional retailer? 

Gorgis in Taumarunui as their stock, customer knowledge and service is beyond excellent.

Can you share some thoughts on the state of regional retailers in New Zealand right now? 

I do feel retail in the in the King Country, as it is in all small

towns, is difficult if you are not a necessities store. Stores selling other quality products must be big on personality and service

to maintain a loyal customer base as internet shopping and larger

centres are easy to access.

Taumarunui is working hard to make the streets look great and infuse character into any empty buildings. Some

small businesses are moving into Taumarunui where they can enjoy lower overheads, manufacture products and sell locally or ship them out. Tourism is growing here and optimism along with it.

Do you think being located outside a major city gives you any advantages as a retailer and wholesaler? 

Being based outside a major city has given us the opportunity to have a business without the pressures of high overheads. The lifestyle is a definite plus, where we may be very busy but the environment is peaceful and non-stressful. We would not have survived starting our business in a major city.

Do you ever feel isolated at Matiere in comparison with businesses based in, say, Auckland? Or is it all much the same when you’re selling into a market like Los Angeles?

The isolation I feel is not being able to sit down with like-minded

businesses or people more successful than us and networking, sharing ideas and helping each other move forward and solve problems. It's not quite the same on the phone. 

We are particularly isolated in that respect, with a half hour drive to the nearest small town and a four-hour drive to our closest major city, Auckland. However, shipping of materials in and out works wonderfully from this remote little spot.

Check out other articles in this series:

Why some Kiwi towns are rising while others struggle

Paihia

Tokoroa

New Plymouth

Bulls

Kaikoura

Greymouth

Arrowtown

This story originally appeared in NZ Retail issue 760 February/March 2019

​ ​

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Readings present revised plan for Courtenay Central

  • Property
  • May 16, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Readings present revised plan for Courtenay Central

The company that owns Courtenay Central in Wellington says it has big plans for redeveloping the complex - which is closed due to earthquake risks.

Read more
 
 

How to tell if you're a born retailer

  • Opinion
  • May 16, 2019
  • David Farrell
How to tell if you're a born retailer

Retail is a profession, but true retailers are born not made, says Dave Farrell.

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Sustainable soap wrapper among major winners at Pride In Print Awards

  • Opinion
  • May 15, 2019
  • Sue Archibald
 Sustainable soap wrapper among major winners at Pride In Print Awards

A sustainable, heat sealed soap wrapper that is claimed to saving tonnes of PET plastic film, petrochemical wax and glue from landfill each year, has won a major award in the Pride In Print industry awards. Sue Archibald, Pride in Print Awards manager, shares more.

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Inside Little Yellow Bird’s equity crowdfunding campaign

  • News
  • May 15, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Inside Little Yellow Bird’s equity crowdfunding campaign

Wellington social enterprise Little Yellow Bird is seeking to scale its ethical apparel operation to the next level with an equity crowdfunding campaign.

Read more
 
 

Auckland design agency wins gold for retail packaging

  • News
  • May 14, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
Auckland design agency wins gold for retail packaging

As a benchmark for impeccably designed packaging of consumer products, The Dieline Awards this year saw creative agency Onfire walk away with recognition for fantastic design for their retail products. We spoke with Matt Grantham, creative director at Onfire Design, about the importance of a strong visual brand in the retail product sector.

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BYO containers policy live from June 1 at Foodstuffs stores

  • News
  • May 14, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
BYO containers policy live from June 1 at Foodstuffs stores

Customers at Foodstuffs supermarkets’ instore butchery, seafood counter, delicatessen and bakery will be able to have food packed into their own clean, leak-proof containers from June 1.

Read more
 
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