Meet Martina & Sunny, Co-Founders of newly launched fashion, design, beauty, & interiors concept store + online boutique SLOW. Based in Queenstown, NZ we recently had the privilege of interviewing Martina to chat about the process of opening SLOW, how she stays organised and much much more.
Name: Martina Blanchard
Occupation: Managing Director at SLOW
Ok, so first things first, you are the co-founders of the (literally) just launched concept store + online boutique SLOW in Queenstown, NZ - how did it all begin and what was that light bulb moment when Sunny (fellow Co-Founder and General Manager) and yourself decided to start the business? Did you have any business experience previously and what did you both have a background in?…
I was looking for a creative outlet combined with a more conscious and simpler way of life. Originally, I was seeking to open an interior store that resonated with my passion for slow design and minimal interior styling. Sunny (Co-Founder of SLOW) on the other hand has a vast experience in the apparel industry and is driven by ethical & sustainable garment production. We have combined our ideals & experiences with the slow ethos and started to work on how to translate this into a conscious business model. It actually all stemmed from the change that we have started at ourselves, changing our own state of mind about life then made us think about growing it into a brand that can encompass SLOW…to share our passion and establish a brand folio that echoes luxury of simplicity, quality, permanency and health across the fashion, design and beauty fields.
Our background is a mixture of academia, sales, accounting, hospitality, art and design.
With a variety of brands across fashion, beauty, lifestyle, design and art, SLOW is dedicated to highlighting and introducing new designers to the NZ market for the first time. You also only work with brand who have strong business ethics towards sustainability. Talk us through why this is important to you?
Our primary focus is on the works of ‘slow movement’ in relation to the material world and its consequent correlation with wider society and the environment.
Slowing down and living a simpler life can bring about positive change in your own life. At the same time, however, we should get to understand that our lifestyle, inclusive of our intimate environments and our fashion/beauty purchases, creates a ripple effect to the public and natural realms accordingly. If we are happier to live slower and simpler lives we should also adhere to the slow principles bounded with fashion, design and beauty purchases - supporting the change in these industries and a wider consumer shift towards more sustainable consumer models accordingly. The above is what drives our brand choice along with the goal of introducing new brands to the NZ market that is mostly saturated with copy and paste styles across all fields. We are a global society defined by diversity and varied cultural heritage – we are hoping to reflect this reality in our new brand choices accordingly (Our focus is on European/Scandinavian brands in particular).
How did you discover and handpick each amazing brand?
Many of our brands were picked from personal experience. I do tend to do lots of my shopping online and that is how I got to buy and trial brands that came to be part of SLOW respectively. Other brands were then handpicked through extensive research of contemporary sustainable market, assessing brands’ aesthetics and authenticity aspects are our two major pillars (i.e. AIAYAU, NORWEIGN RAIN, ANAAK, NEW WORKS and FRAMA).
As well as being a design and fashion retail space, SLOW also has a coffee studio that was created exclusively with FRAMA Copenhagen and also houses a photo gallery. What made you go in this direction and where did the inspiration come from?
The inspiration came from our travels in Europe. It is not an unusual sighting to find multifunctional or shared retail in Holland, Denmark or Germany. I think its about time that we open our sight to ‘sharing’ our spaces with others and abolish spatial brand ‘exclusivity’ in favor of experiential spaces for both communities and one off customer encounters. Encouraging them to stay and enjoy the SLOW abode of what we have created for a prolonged time was our goal. Our coffee studio is part of our WHOLE FOOD EATERY project that similarly to our brand choices carries a message of rethinking our food consumption choice towards vegetarian and vegan options – lessening the impact of meat consumption and its negative effects on the environment. Our bespoke SLOW food stories will be health conscious, sustainable, creative, seasonal, organic and local.
What have the most challenging moments been to date and how did you power through and keep going?…
The complexity of our business model is challenging for us on many levels – we have been involved in all aspects of our brand from start to the end - aesthetics, ethics, marketing, logistics, E-commerce, coffee studio/eatery works and the shop space rebuild/design. Our working week of the last 6 months was and probably will be for a bit longer called 24/7. Our personable approach to all aspects of our business is challenging yet very rewarding at the same time. We are learning so many new things along the way, falling into pitfalls and climbing out of them makes us stronger and wiser for our next challenge.
Why is organisation so important to you? and have you both always been organised?
We both have different approach to how to organize our workloads. I have done many years of studies at university so understand what discipline and organisation entails well. However, this business is quite something else…so many unexpected things and challenges pop up on us every day so no matter how ready and well organised you are it is all about being flexible, shuffle priorities and change your schedule respectively.
How did you organise the whole launch of the business? Did you have a strategy?
Deadline/set date was where we started - we have selected our launch date with the help of a professional astrologer. We strongly believe that there are good and bad days to commence major events in your life. We see astrology as a tool that helps us to tap in to the correct energy flow, amplifying that way our chances of positive outcome for the long run! This forecasting goes far beyond your sun star astrology column, its very scientific in its nature and lot of aspects and broad knowledge of predictive astrology is needed to calculate these.
What are the top 3 ways you both organise your lives everyday?
I personally carry most of my to do list in my head - the only thing I do tend to note down is meetings/times - I use a diary for this.
Stationery wise - are you a….Diary Lover / To Do List Lover / Calendar Lover / Sketch Book lover - or all of the above?!
I am a to do list person – If not just in my head, I organised my tasks into groups relating to different themes i.e. work/family.
What is the one thing you are notoriously disorganised at?!…
Leaving home on time – I blame my kids for this! ;)
Talk us through your workspace/s - What are your essentials you need at your desk and how would you describe the vibe?
At the moment I have no personal space as such, doing all I can at our dining table – the vibe is called ‘organised chaos’. However, I do have an in tray in sight that I use to separate SLOW from my other projects – I do a once a week sorting, a tidy of all but when I work I do not worry about tidying as this is a secondary to my actual work.
And finally - the fun part - what are your plans + goals for SLOW in 2019?
We are hoping to become a part of Queenstown must visit shop for tourists and a hub for local people! To become a globe trotter, helping to grow awareness of sustainable brands/market is above and all we are hoping for.
VISIT SLOW: SLOW STORE, 85 BEACH STREET, QUEENSTOWN, +64 21674653
SHOP ONLINE HERE