There are many people that make up the Widdess community. Since our conception in 1995 Widdess has evolved and grown to include makers and creatives from different industries and walks of life. We are now a community of people in Tāmaki Makaurau and beyond working to create sustainable, ethical and quality products made in Aotearoa.
The Widdess workroom has quadrupled in size this year as we now create out of our new space in Mount Eden. On Fridays Faith, our shop manager, joins the team of Yvonna, Phoebe and Vincent to help with the ever-changing and always-different work that needs doing. This is Friday in the Widdess workroom, a glimpse into the goings on of a Fashion label that is run, designed and made in New Zealand.
We arrive at 10 am. Coffee and tea is poured to start off the day and then we get stuck in. Phoebe is organising the last of our wholesale shipments, her job now is to make sure every order from our stockists around New Zealand is complete with all the correct pieces. This involves a lot of steaming, pressing, attaching swing tags, stickers, folding, packaging and counting.
Meanwhile Faith gets started on processing the online orders that have come through over night. On her way into the workroom that morning she has stopped by the Ponsonby shop to collect garments to fulfil these orders. They are sent out in recyclable paper packaging, we leave the parcels near the entrance to our workroom for a contactless pickup from NZ Post. At the moment we have been processing a lot of orders for facemasks especially in Auckland as our community works hard to keep ourselves and others safe.
Yvonna has a pile of shirts beside her, freshly washed and dried, ready for buttons and stitching details to be added. All Widdess garments are hand washed prior to entering our store to ensure there is no shrinkage in the materials. We do not use synthetic fabrics so all our clothing are made with natural fibres or, like viscose and rayon, a manufactured fibre from natural source: viscose and rayon are made from wood pulp. At the moment our new season shirts and tops have been designed with red stitching, Yvonna is using her red thread and needle to add the detailing and buttons.
Today Vincent is working mostly from a studio space within our workroom where he paints. Vincent has many talents; while he is a horticulturalist with a very green thumb, he also makes his own dreamlike painting, often abstract with soft palettes. Today he is working on a large-scale painting to put on the wall in our Ponsonby shop. He is working with colouring pencils and shellac, currently inspired by the silhouettes of Kirsten Dryburgh’s pottery.
Phoebe has pressed and put aside new stock for the shop so after processing the online orders Faith begins to attach swing tags and stickers and update the online store with the new stock quantities. The car is loaded up and Faith then drives the 2km to our Ponsonby shop. On Fridays Rosa is looking after things at Widdess, she is ready to help unload the goods as it arrives, this also includes a delivery of made-to-order clothes for regular customers, who can collect their special pieces from the store.
Back at the workroom more buttons are being sewn, dresses pressed. Vincent has taken a break from the painting to photograph a giveaway for Instagram. The giveaway includes a Widdess facemask, some So.Ah New Zealand made soap and a Hydrangea Ranger journal.
We take a quick break from our own tasks to choose nail polish colours from Dear Sundays. Their nail polish is manufactured and designed in the USA to be non-toxic, vegan and cruelty free. We end up choosing eight different colours that compliment our current clothing range. (These should be in store in the next couple of weeks!)
We were lucky enough to get a late afternoon visit from Rebecca from Leemake tailoring and her three-year-old daughter Jia. Leemake have been sewing for Widdess for six years, we enjoy our regular visits when they deliver our garments. Today she is dropping in some samples and collecting the fabric that Yvonna and Phoebe have cut to be sewn into dresses. This week Jia has a new pair of unicorn gumboots and is showing us how good she is at stomping in them.
Our Widdess team goes far beyond those coming in and out today. Vitali from Wall fabrics and Jamie from Hawes and Freer deliver fabric swatches and great chat each week, Kirsten Dryburgh a long standing maker in our team who continues to create usable art, Hydrangea Ranger’s ever talented Bella (and Yvonna’s daughter) maker of jewellery and art, there are countless more and we feel so lucky.
Equally crucial and at the centre of our community are our customers. We are humbled by your support not only presently as we find our way through this global pandemic, but for the past 24 years. To make and create for you has been deeply rewarding, we are so thankful that we get to do what we do everyday.