Personal touch in children’s clothing
Christchurch small business owner Nell Hyett is among the last few local manufacturers of clothing in the city and probably in New Zealand.
She has been manufacturing her own childrenswear label for 20 years under the name Little Miss and Little Mister.
Much of the raw material fabric is produced or acquired within New Zealand, such as merino wool from a supplier in Levin.
She has recently moved to Bewdley St in Barrington which he hopes will become a destination shopping site.
Hyett had been based in nearby Barrington Mall but said there were several reasons malls don’t always suit smaller operators.
Higher rent was an obvious disadvantage but so were requirements dictated by mall managers about remaining open for seven days and long hours.
And parking at the new shop is easier in spite of the mantra about the convenience of mall parking.
Hyett said much of her ‘‘marketing’’ was by word of mouth but small businesses like hers benefited enormously by embracing social media.
When she started her business about 20 years ago there were fewer child-focused clothing providers.
Hyett was based in Colombo St before the earthquakes turned everything upside down, as they did for so many businesses.
‘‘I wouldn’t try to compete with Chinese imports because you never could.
‘‘People often opt for cheap stuff but you’re better to buy a quality product rather than half a dozen things that you will throw away after a few weeks or months.
‘‘Often my clothes will be passed down through several children in a family.
‘‘I think what people like is the unique aspect of the clothing. I do limited editions of about 20 of whatever I do.
‘‘I have a lot of grandmothers come in. They love to get things for their wee ones, and quite a few people from north Canterbury or places like Ashburton come in. People often see the clothing and ask where it came from.
‘‘Retailing is a very tricky business to be in if you don’t have a niche, it’s quite different to how it was 20 years ago.
‘‘The internet has had a big effect with more people buying online. But that’s no fun as an experience, is it? You want to be able to feel the product and chat to people and have a nice wine at the end of it.’’
Hyett employs another machinist and her daughter helps out in the shop from time to time.
Nell Hyett of Little Miss and Little Mister likes to think she offers a shopping experience as well as a product.