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Who makes OUR clothes? And why!

Accountabilty Behind the Scenes Local Business Manufacturing Processes Thomas Pie Who Made My Clothes

Until June last year all Thomas Pie clothing was made by me. From my home. Generally when Tom was asleep or at pre-school. In January 2016 a shift started happening. We started getting enquiries about whether we offered wholesale. Our items became in more demand and it became very obvious that I was not going to be able to carry the workload by myself anymore. 
So, I put an advertisement up on a local website. I had the idea that I could find someone like myself who could work from home and pick up the slack from me. I don't think at that stage I had quite grasped how much we had grown and how much more growing we would do in the next few months.
Bronwyn (pictured below) sent me a message and we arranged to meet. I took her in some samples and checked out her work space. And what a revelation it was!! All my dreams of a manufacture space were there, right in front of me. I instantly felt a weight lift off my shoulders. All that pressure I had been putting on myself to do it all, gone. 
Bronwyn started Forward Fashions 22 years ago. Over the years she has employed up to 10 staff. Now there are the four of them, working their magic for 6 main clients plus some other wee ones that crop up from time to time.  Sue has been working for Bronwyn for 15 years. Moana and Heather are coming up 10 years. I always enjoy my visits to them as they are a lovely group of women who clearly enjoy what they do.
And what they do is produce clothes that are of a standard that exceed even my very high expectations.  They have made pretty much made everything over the years from surgical gear to high fashion, bank uniforms to vet blankets and even bee keepers overalls!! Bronwyn has definitely noticed the ups and downs of running a manufacturing business in the last 20+ years. 

Uniforms used to be a large part of her staple work. But those are now mainly produced overseas as businesses in New Zealand do not want to pay the prices for staff uniforms that New 
Zealand manufactured products attract. 
And that is something that I am really proud to be able to say about our clothing. That it is New Zealand made. If you look in the labels of your children clothing, you will find very few NZ based clothing businesses actually make their clothes here.
It is also something that I have thought about a lot in the last year especially as we have grown so much. I have explored the option of getting our clothing made in India. We had some samples made up. But they just didn't match the workmanship that these amazing ladies achieve. And as silly as this sounds, I felt like if I went that way, I was also loosing a little bit of our 'soul'. Because these ladies contribute to that. They are always smiling and happy when making our clothes. They enjoy making them as much as I do. And that is something that I don't think I could replace or replicate elsewhere.
I want to know who makes my clothes. I want to know their names. And that they have a Grandchild at the same school as my son. Or that they live next door to one of the girls from my coffee group. I want them to be proud to tell people that they make our clothing. I want them to feel that pride when they are out with their family and see a child wearing Thomas Pie. I don't think I could achieve that with by taking my manufacture offshore.
Thats not to say that we won't do something with an overseas factory in the future. But for now, Thomas Pie is proud to be New Zealand made. And very soon, we will be using exclusivley NZ made fabric too. Doesn't get much better than that does it!
Thanks so much to the talented David James for taking these photos to give you a look behind the scenes at Thomas Pie. He captured these ladies and their personalities so well. If you are Blenheim local and looking for a photographer for your family, wedding or business I can not recommend David enough.

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  • Sue MArshall on

    An amazing story made me feel very proud to be a Blenheim local, who knows Bronnie very well

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