Harrïe & Sam is a much-loved New Zealand fashion label that uses a unique business model to sell clothes, with a focus on sustainability, quality and longevity.
All Harrïe & Sam clothes are made-to-order with just 20-25 items designed each season. The Hamilton-based business prides itself on making classic, functional, high-quality, easy-to-wear garments.
Co-founder Stacey McIntosh says: “I love fashion that is approachable and that people feel good in, which is how I design. Harrïe & Sam’s ethos is that people will wear our clothes for a long time.”
It’s been three years since Stacey gave up her day job in account management to dedicate her full attention to Harrïe & Sam, and nearly seven years since Harrie & Sam was conceived.
Whilst the vast majority of sales are online, Harrïe & Sam also open regular pop-up shops throughout the North Island.
Interestingly Stacey’s background isn’t in design. She studied management, public relations and marketing at the University of Waikato.
“Harrïe & Sam is a passion-led business. I love fashion but I also love business,” explains Stacey.
As co-founder, owner and designer, Stacey says her main role is to drive the business and manage her team – who all work at home, another deviation from the norm.
From its early beginnings when they had one cutter and maker, Harrïe & Sam now has a team of nine which includes four office staff plus five fulltime cutters and makers.
It’s growth journey hasn’t been smooth.
“Covid was very challenging. I’d just left my fulltime job to focus on Harrïe & Sam and we had major issues with shipping and accessing fabric. As a made-to-order business, our turnaround times are very tight. But on the flipside, because we have short lead times, we were able to get back up-and-running quickly and offer a wider range than most other fashion producers,” says Stacey.
Learning how to juggle being a business owner with being a Mum has also been challenging.
“Before I had Jimmy [her two-year-old] I could do as much work as I wanted but now I have to juggle work with looking after a toddler.”
As for her favourite part of being a business owner: “I love the challenge and that every day is different. Problem solving is my favourite thing to do – I love testing and trying new things.”
Stacey applied for Regional Business Partner funding earlier this year because sales had started to slow down and the team had reached its capacity in terms of operating the business.
“During Covid the online shopping environment changed. People got better at selling online. As an online business, I wanted help to learn how we could evolve,” says Stacey.
Harrïe & Sam received funding to work with Renee from Running in Heels – a Shopify expert.
The office staff undertook customer pathway and user experience (UX) training sessions as well as e-commerce coaching and strategy. They learnt how to use Shopify add-ons, how to create an online pop-up shop, and were training in new apps and tools to maximise and convert sales.
“Personally I felt like I had a lot of Shopify knowledge but having my team trained takes the pressure off me. We now have a better understanding of the backend of Shopify and are able to process and measure sales more effectively.
“The training and coaching sessions have given us long-lasting knowledge that will help grow Harrïe & Sam.”