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



New Plymouth





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

​ ​

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Eat my Lunch opens its first physical store

  • News
  • July 23, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
Eat my Lunch opens its first physical store

The popular buy one give one model of Eat My Lunch has officially opened its first retail store in Auckland’s downtown Britomart. The store maintains its charity initiative, supplying a Kiwi kid lunch with every $14 spent.

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InStyle names All Is For All’s Grace Stratton a ‘Badass Woman’

  • News
  • July 18, 2019
  • The Register team
InStyle names All Is For All’s Grace Stratton a ‘Badass Woman’

Grace Stratton, the 20-year-old founder of specialty ecommerce site All Is For All, has been named one of 50 global Badass Women by US glossy magazine InStyle. The list includes international celebrities like Mindy Kaling and businesspeople like Stitch Fix chief executive Katrina Lake.

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Wellbeing in the workplace: Here's how its affecting your staff, and your bottom line

  • Opinion
  • July 18, 2019
  • Elly Strang
Wellbeing in the workplace: Here's how its affecting your staff, and your bottom line

Idealog editor Elly Strang recently spoke at the Magazine Publishers Association conference about the importance of wellbeing in the workplace, and the key takeaways from Wellness Month. She shares why it shouldn't be thought of as a luxury nice-to-have, like yoga classes, as research is showing it impacts on your bottom line, as well as some tips on how to create change in the workplace.

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How HomeAR is incorporating AR into architecture design

  • technology
  • July 18, 2019
  • Courtney Devereux
How HomeAR is incorporating AR into architecture design

Many people struggle to envision plans from simple 2D renders and floor plans, as without a designer's eye, filling in blanks from imagination isn’t the most reliable method when it comes to something as important as building a brand-new home or store. Reactar has launched an augmented reality-based platform, HomeAR, to counteract this, which allows users to see and engage with homes in a virtual way, making the very personal process more reliable.

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Simon West is the new chief executive of Torpedo7

  • Who's Where
  • July 18, 2019
Simon West is the new chief executive of Torpedo7

Simon West, who has 20 years' experience leading companies like Ezibuy, has been appointed the chief executive of The Warehouse Group's outdoor retailer Torpedo7.

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Bay of Plenty D2C Saltysea opens its first store

  • Design
  • July 17, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
Bay of Plenty D2C Saltysea opens its first store

Stephanie Saxton has been selling cheeky swimsuits and ethical activewear online out of Bay of Plenty's Athenree since 2018. She's now opened Saltysea's first bricks and mortar store, the Salty Collective.

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