I started a business: Hayley Rhind’s Kiwi-made fashion line
In the space of three short years, Kiwi mum-of-two Hayley Rhind built million-dollar clothing business White Chalk from her Marlborough farmhouse. Find out the secrets to her success
How it started
Nearly four years ago, my husband Matt and I were saving hard to buy our first Marlborough
farm and didn’t have a lot of money to buy nice clothes. At the
time, my sister-in-law Ginny and brother Nathan were living in Hoi An, Vietnam. I said, “If I drew up some pictures of clothes I’d like, could you get them made?” She sent them over and it was like
Christmas; all of these new clothes were pretty much what
I wanted. Lots of my friends asked if they could get something
similar made. We joked, “We could go into business,” and then, all of a sudden, we were in business. It was never the intention. I was meant to be the ‘boy’ on the farm because we couldn’t afford to pay a staff member to run it with Matt. As White Chalk grew and grew, we realised there’s not much point me being on the farm, I might as well put my energy
into that and we ended up getting a real boy on the farm.
If I’m needed or want to be on the farm, then I can be. We can head out hunting or
fishing whenever we like – we’ve got two kids; Millie, 8, and Jed, 4. No one can tell me what to do because I’m never very
good at being told what to do. To be honest, I don’t switch off but to me it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. Even when you’re out for a walk, you find that you’re
always thinking about business or what there is to do next. It does consume all of your time. I don’t think that’s a complaint
because I enjoy being challenged, but it’s been hard. I don’t watch telly and I’m not very good at having down time. I find I can only design on days when I’m in the mood. We have a little shearers’ quarters at our house with no cell phone service, I’ll often go in there and if I’m in the right
mood, I can design a collection in a day.
USE YOUR TIME WELL
I did all of the selling trips around the country for the first two-and-a-half years, which was hard, it was exhausting. I was driving 10-12 hours a day and going in and seeing shops, but it meant we could afford to grow the company. We’ve now got reps, one North Island, one South Island rep on the road so it frees up my time to do things more beneficial for the company. In the last six months we’ve started to employ staff with tasks that aren’t specialised to us. We now have staff packing orders and find we can use our
time more valuably for marketing, production and design. When we first started, we did everything ourselves so that we could afford to get up and off the
ground and keep the price affordable.
IT TAKES COURAGE TO BACK YOURSELF AND DO IT. FOLLOW YOUR GUT INSTINCT AND IF YOU WANT TO START A BUSINESS, THEN GIVE IT YOUR FULL COMMITMENT, OTHERWISE DON’T BOTHER. PREPARE FOR IT TO RULE YOUR LIFE FOR THE FIRST THREE YEARS.*
All the clothes are now locallymade.
Left: The 33-year-old entrepreneur with husband Matt. Bottom Left: On the farm with her two children, Millie and Jed.
Company HQ isbased in Blenheim.