Per­sonal touch in chil­dren’s cloth­ing

The Press - - Business - CHRIS HUTCHING

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.

CHRIS HUTCHING / STUFF

Nell Hyett of Lit­tle Miss and Lit­tle Mis­ter likes to think she of­fers a shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence as well as a prod­uct.

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