I started Maggie Marilyn 4 years ago, after graduating from a fine arts degree in Auckland. I think it was lots of little moments and ideas that led me to start Maggie Marilyn, I had spent 4 years studying the negative effects fashion can have. So the culmination of all of my learnings at university and my love and desire to create beautiful things with an equally beautiful supply chain led me to start Maggie Marilyn, I wanted to create a mission lead business, to make a difference in an industry that I believed was ready for change. To create a brand that puts people and the environment at the forefront of every decision.
You & your incredible team have been very vocal & dedicated from Day 1 about having a mission to change the industry, to focus on building a sustainable brand, to be transparent & to empower your supply chain - that is no easy task. What have the highlights & challenges been to stay true to this mission?
So many highlights! But also so many challenges. I honestly don't think I really knew what I was getting myself into. Building a business is incredibly difficult but it has also been the best 4 years of my life! I think the team that we have has been one of the highlights, I feel really blessed to come to work with such an incredible group of people everyday, who inspire and motivate me to keep pushing forward. I would also say the community of manufacturers and suppliers that we have built has been really rewarding, they feel like an extended family. One of our greatest challenges has been trying to challenge a system that has so many antiquated rules and closed door policies. Our aim is to rebuild the fashion industry into one that is circular, transparent, accountable and empowering so we definitely see our journey being a marathon not a sprint.
Being such a young designer & business owner - who have you looked up to for advice & what do you do when you don't know the answer to a question or new situation?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, so I feel lucky to have them to lean on for support. I have also met some incredible people over the past few years that I feel lucky to call friends and mentors. But there are still so many situations where I have no idea what the answer or solution is, I think that is part of being in business, you just keep pushing forward and not every decision will be the right one but that is a part of growing and learning.
What would your advice be for other young designers wanting to follow in your footsteps - where do they start & what do they need to know?
Start by asking yourself what it is you want to say through your business, I think it is important to have a mission and to lead with purpose. Once you have that it will be your northern star and will always guide you in the right direction.
You still design all the beautiful Maggie Marilyn pieces - where do you find your inspiration?
It really changes from season to season, and is really dependent on my mood. Lately I have been craving more simplicity in my life. I just don't think the world needs so much newness. I would like to have a core line of beautiful pieces that just get updated slightly every season. I think this fixation we all have with newness quite literally just isn’t sustainable.
How have you managed & handled the growth of MM - did you have a strategy or did you have to go with the flow?
I was 22 when I started MM so I had absolutely no strategy! Other than a mission and a northern star, but I had absolutely no idea how we were going to get there. But gradually over time you work it out, through resilience and a relentless passion to never give up. Now we have quite a clear strategy and 5 year plan, but this has evolved over time.
What has been your biggest career highlight with Maggie Marilyn to date?
Having Michelle Obama wear us last year was a pinch me moment but there have been so many! I think sometimes I pinch myself walking into our office everyday and realising I get to do what I love everyday. That doesn't mean there aren't really tough days, but on the whole, I really love it.
What is the first thing you do when you get to the office?
I say hi to our pattern maker Rodney, he is an early bird like me so making a coffee with him and just chatting about the world. It's one of the highlights of my day.
Talk us through your amazing new MM HQ & Showroom - what was the inspiration behind the interiors?
We worked with Katie Lockhart and she just made all my dreams come true. I love how she bought the MM vision alive in a three dimensional space. She’s a genius. I love the mix of mid century vintage furniture and high gloss pink lacquered plinths.
What are the top 3 ways you organise your life
Writing everything down in my AOL diary! I have also started writing a journal, writing how my day was, this has been incredibly therapeutic and somehow organises all the thoughts I am internalising. I think also having key pieces in your wardrobe can really help to organise your day, having those pieces you know you can pull time and time again that empower you to feel your best.
What are your must-have desk essentials
Diary! I love my AOL diary, I don't know where I would be without it, I am a pen and paper girl! A doodling pad for sketching ideas and a poetry book for inspiration. I love Rupi Kaur and Cleo Wade.
How do you keep your workspace organised
I am a mess at home and in my wardrobe! But I really need a clean work space to be productive. I like to clean my desk at the end of every day, so when I walk in, in the morning It feels fresh and I can have a clear mind to begin my day.
What are your goals for the next 12 months / what are you most looking forward to?
I am looking forward to expanding our new Somewhere range, we have some really exciting products in the pipeline and continuing to achieve the goals we have on our 2020 Sustainability Strategy.