The Best Is Yet To Come

With the current change we are experiencing in our world, we believe it is important to recognise the gravity of the situation but also equally as important to recognise the possibilities as we reshape our futures.

This is a time to re-evaluate our lives and choices personally, but also look at the world as a whole - what changes do we believe need to be made? With this in mind, we bring you The Best Is Yet To Come. We chat to our friends & leaders within their industry and discuss their hopes for how their industry will reshape and evolve moving forward...

Christine Sharma, RUBY Managing Director

'I am hoping our industry looks more diverse on a New Zealand foundation. We have so much creativity around us and it’s time that our industry stopped taking the lead from overseas brands and believed in ourselves and our own DNA.

'It is so important that we do support our NZ businesses, otherwise the scope of NZ labels will be reduced and the prospect of a "cookie cut shopping environment" looms.

'With the ripple effect of Covid-19, everyone has had to throw all their cards up in the air, see what lands face way up and go with it. This is a time to go back to basics, looking at our new way of living and reviewing the changes in our shopping habits. Businesses are having to adapt to this change in behaviour and rethink their retail footprint.

'The buzz aspect of all this is of course that online will define…and yes it will. It reaches where no retail store can exist, however, it is never going to replace the wonderful feeling of walking into a retail environment. Brick and mortar provides the space for a welcoming, warm and tactile experience that a screen will never do, so finding that balance is key.'

Vere Sharma, RUBY Board Member

'I was born in 1955 in New Delhi, India. I have two older brothers and in those days clothes were handed down to me. My mother, Anne, owned a clothing boutique in Khan Market, Delhi where she had six seamstresses who were my first teachers. I watched them sew for hours in the thick heat, they never seemed flustered. I was immersed in fashion from a young age. Anne had a knack for replicating trends and patterns she found appealing on Carnaby Street in London and adapting them for her community. There’s a beautiful order to the chaos in India, my childhood was simple, we took what we needed, nothing more. We respected our neighbours. It’s an unspoken principle in India to give back to your community if you have the means to do so.

'I’ve been in the New Zealand rag trade for over 40 years. Principals I learnt from sitting on a stool in my mum’s shop still guide me today. I’ve been a textile agent, importer, wholesaler and finally, a retailer. In every role I’ve undertaken, I’ve watched the economy evolve, trends become fads, practices become out-dated. I thrive on being able to adapt. Complacency has never been an option for me.

'I’ve raised five kids and endeavoured to pass on the same knowledge that was passed onto me. We need to be agile, nimble and we need to bend under pressure – but, never break.

'My eldest son, Jared, recently wrote about the false dilemma that is choosing between economic prosperity and environmental protection. Good business practices that stimulate our economy, but don’t take away from our environment. You can have both if you lead with dignity. In the last few years I’ve seen sustainability sit front row, it has led our conversations at family dinners. I believe this ‘theme’ will no longer be a goal, but a mindset; the pandemic will cement this.

'The pandemic has demanded us to reflect on our structures, take a step back, and highlight what we’re investing attention and resources into that may be better spent elsewhere. To confront complacency head-on and adapt.

'I’m a new grandfather, I owe it to my grandchildren to lead with dignity. I will ensure my team invests resources into protecting our environment, while creating a product that inspires our community. We need to stay nimble. Of course, investing in digital structures is essential, however ensuring our digital footprint is aligned with our holistic approach to creating clothing that is true to our brand, is fundamental.

'We owe it to each other, we owe it to the future generations to come.'

Zoe Walker Ahwa, Journalist

'Yesterday I read a Business of Fashion story on how New York brand Telfar is dealing with the pandemic, and this line from designer Telfar Clemens stood out: “This is a period of chill. Let’s figure out how you sell these ideas you’ve been making for 20 years.”

'Fashion has been moving at an insane pace, but this is a forced pause - a period of chill to stop and really think about what we want our industry to be. We’ve been doing things a certain way for years, but that doesn’t mean its the right way. The ramifications of the pandemic on fashion, here and overseas, are huge, and we won’t know the full extent for some time. But a few things I’m hopeful for after all of this…

'Things will be smaller, and slower.

'Our industry is going to shrink with fewer brands and fewer stores. And ultimately I hope, fewer clothes. This is a good thing.

'It’s something I’ve been thinking about long before this lockdown: yes, there are too many clothes from fast fashion brands. But even at a local level, in my beloved local industry, I think there has been too much stuff: overproduction of clothes and content.

'If they aren’t doing it already, brands will be forced into new ways of working - revisiting their archives, keeping clothes around for longer, repurposing and up-cycling fabrics rather than investing in more and new.

'More consumers will start to embrace a make do and mend mentality. I loved RUBY’s sewing classes: to me, this typifies the future of brands, educating and building community while offering clothes are are fun and exciting; because fashion also needs to continue to serve the purpose of being inspiring and challenging.

'Like ‘sustainability’, kindness is another word that’s being used a lot right now. But what does that actually mean? I saw an Instagram comment somewhere that asked, ‘OK, but what brands are actually putting this into action?’ and that struck me.

'To me it’s those that feel personal, intimate, friendly. I’ve watched more brands try to do this since our lockdown, but I think audiences are aware of those who aren’t necessarily doing it genuinely or when it feels like it’s part of a boardroom marketing strategy. Literally everyone is creating content right now, but not all content is good content.

'This more personal approach is how we will move things forward. Even in how we present fashion: I’ve felt this for some time, but after all of this especially, I think overly produced, too-slick imagery and content will feel like it's from a completely different time.

'I really hope this also means more industry collaboration. We saw the start of this creatively before the pandemic - Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, Dries van Noten and Christian Lacroix - but I hope this sparks collaboration at a more business focused level.

'Traditionally - perhaps because it’s so small - the NZ fashion industry has kept things close to their chests; with some designers not necessarily wanting to share information. Working together to share resources and ideas will be how we recover from this.

'Everyone is taking a hit, so how can we all work together to make sure our industry survives and thrives? Collaboration, and initiatives like Mindful Fashion, will be even more important, as people from all facets of the industry (and beyond) come together to develop a new way of thinking and working.'

Mimi Gilmour, Burger Burger Co-Founder & Hospitality Creative Consultant

'The past month feels like a dream. There are a lot of things you can prepare yourselves for in business - fluctuating sales, sudden illness of key team members, delays in new store openings, supply shortages - but somehow, we never thought we’d have to prepare to be shut down completely, in a very short time, due to a global pandemic. The situation we are faced with has been extremely confronting personally and professionally, but I’m feeling surprisingly optimistic about the future.

'The whole world feels upside down right now but in amongst all the darkness, I’ve seen lots of light. I am so thankful for my health, my handsome husband (who is my rock), my beautiful babies and my incredible support network of inspiring and loving friends and family. I’m grateful for this unexpected time it has given me to indulge in quality time with my daughters. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to pause and rethink how our business can best serve our community.

'I know it’s an enormous privilege that I have the time to slow down and think about the future. For many, both in New Zealand and around the world, this pandemic has brought nothing but fear and loss. As a hospitality business owner, there has been (a lot) of stress, but I’ve been trying to keep sight of the big picture, and I realise how lucky I am.

'Even prior to the pandemic, things were vastly different to how they were when we started Burger Burger. Back then, I had no children, there were one third of the amount of restaurants there are now, UberEats and My Food Bag didn’t exist, construction costs weren’t unobtainable, we didn’t have megamalls on every corner streaming in international brands and most importantly, I had all the time and energy in the world to throw myself into anything and everything! I don’t know about you, but more and more over the past few years I’ve found myself asking how, as a mother/boss/friend/family member/woman, I am meant to keep up when the world around us seems to be spinning faster and faster. This time at home has allowed me to start to think about some answers.

'Yes, the future of our industry will be different to what we know. Hospitality is by definition ‘the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors & strangers’. In an increasingly digital world where ‘social distancing’ could be the new normal, we may have to find new ways to bring this definition to life.

'Online, we’re seeing some really interesting developments. Not only is the restaurant community sharing recipes for meals but they are sharing basic fundamentals like how to cut an onion properly (thank you, handsome Josh), signature dishes that can be recreated at home (BB Broccoli!), and ways to teach children meals from many different cultures.

'Perhaps the future of hospitality means a refreshed perspective on cooking. I think there will definitely be a new appreciation for fresh, locally sourced produce. I know there will be a reaffirmation of the need for community. We are going to have to embrace technology if we want to survive but instead of being held hostage to unreasonable commission rates of ginormous corporations, I believe there will be more local solutions presenting themselves.

'I think our industry will see a lot more collaboration in the future. For us, some of the most surprising relationships that have evolved in this situation have been those we have with our landlords. What have usually been very transactional in nature have been transformed and I am incredibly grateful for the empathetic position our landlords have taken. We have had similar conversations with - and received amazing support from - our suppliers, many of whom are in similar positions to us. It’s been a humble reminder that the best problem solving happens when small and big businesses, and the people behind them, work together.

'Next week I am going to lay all my cards on the table and ask our customers to tell us what they want from us in the future. We (our industry, our economy) need people to start spending again, but we also know that things have changed. Many people’s situations, expectations and perspectives have shifted. I’m ready to listen, I’m ready to make changes and I’m ready to make them fast. We need to adapt to what this new world presents, and what role our industry now needs to play. I do know that we are not going anywhere. We passionately believe that the restaurant industry is crucial to a happy community and therefore we will fight to keep the dream alive.'

Chris Parker, Comedian

'I think it’s a tricky one for us live performers, our work really relies on having 100 people in a room (usually a basement somewhere) laughing at our jokes. That's where all our discoveries are made. So a lot of us are really just trying to hold tight at the moment. While the Instagram live concerts are delightful and charming... they will never make up for the real thing. I would say it has been a really interesting equaliser this event. I love to see those performers who have the ability to make work from their own house with their phones shine through. In a weird way those who have less are able to move faster than those larger tv organisations who have to work through bureaucratic systems, often meaning their work arrives a little late. The internet will always beat television in the race which is almost critical in a time like this.

'I would say the turn out most New Zealand comedians deliver every year is so high. I think maybe audiences underestimate the work that goes into delivering a new hour of comedy. Which they should, it's none of their business. I do wonder if this pause will maybe create a space for the industry to catch its breath, gear up and get ready to rip into it when the doors do open again.

'Personally, I've been surprised by the confidence I feel in making my own work from home. I think to be surrounded by my things, to be able to wear track-pants in zoom calls. It allows me to feel grounded and strong in a way I have never before. I wish to carry that strength through when I am back inside more conventional working environments.

'I can't wait to see what this time produces, later down the line, after the flood gates open and every weekend is packed full with gigs and shows which were dreamed up in isolation. I can't wait to be in that time, and support it. All those artists are going to need your support.'

Hayley White, Co-Director Auckland Art Fair & Co-Founder ArtNow

'Like many industries, both the art world and the events industry have been hugely disrupted by Covid-19. We had to cancel the 2020 Fair less than six weeks before it was scheduled to open. Similarly, all galleries and museums across New Zealand have been closed for the last four weeks, so ArtNow - the online listing site for contemporary art exhibitions and events – has had to change the way it gets people engaging with art.

'From a business perspective, cancelling an event isn’t great. Depending on where you are in the cycle when you have to cancel, you’ve likely committed expense AND you need to refund any income. Not only for the Art Fair, but across the events industry, Covid-19 has meant a 100 percent loss in activities and revenue for event companies and contractors. Hundreds of staff have been made redundant, and at the moment no one is sure when events will be able to open again, and when that does happen, how people will feel about attending.

'Galleries and their artists – and the arts and culture sectors more generally - are another group experiencing incredibly tough times right now. More than 150 artists were scheduled to show at the Art Fair – and the work in many cases was finished or nearly complete, but for artists, they don’t get paid until it is sold. Equally for galleries, while the doors remain shut, less people are viewing and buying art, but their costs for rent and staff have not gone away.

'We’ve seen a number of galleries, institutions and art fairs around the world and in New Zealand (ourselves included) race to adapt to this new digital way of life.

'For me, following the cancellation of the Fair, I’ve never had so much time to read, click and ponder, and right now there seems to be a plethora of online arts content and clever thinking in response to what is going on that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed.

'While in many ways it has been inspiring, the question remains whether “all this digital” actually helps support the artists the industry seeks to serve?

'Will a digital exhibition ever replace the real thing? 'Will “extra reach” online be enough to “pay” an artist who has been labouring over their work long before Covid-19? 'Will our Virtual Art Fair incite the same interest, and have similar outcomes for our galleries and their artists?

'But rather than sit in the sidelines and mourn, we wanted to do something that we thought could help our clients (the galleries) and their artists. So, in response to this new era of social distancing and all-things-digital, we’ve launched a Virtual Art Fair that’s free attend from your computer – it opened on Thursday 30th of April at 11am and closes on 15 May.

'It’s a celebration - as best we can – of the talent and diversity of art making in our region. And we hope that wherever possible, some of these artists and galleries will be supported by someone buying a work of art.

'For our online visitors – who can now easily “visit” from around the world – we hope it will introduce them to new galleries and new artists, and offer some welcome solace and escapism.

'All around us right now, we are hearing of the importance of art - something we know to be true at all times, but especially in troubled times.

'One thing that has been really encouraging to see over the last few weeks, is that although we are all physically separated, the will to work together, to collaborate and cooperate is growing in the visual arts community. The Art Fair is very much about presenting contemporary galleries to the public, not just about each individual gallery, but how we come together. Which was our premise for creating ArtNow. It is easy to say “we are all in this together” at a time like now, but I think it is important that the same remains true, and maybe even more so in better times.

'Other than that, right now, I have to be honest, that my hope is we’ll return to some semblance of normality soon, and it will be safe to see friends, visit exhibitions, eat at restaurants and attend events.

'But until then, there’s so much to appreciate about the internet, so much to read, watch and listen to online whilst we remain at Level 3. This time has allowed Auckland Art Fair the opportunity and space to try something which may even reach and connect with a new audience who is yet to see just how essential the arts are.

'So, I hope you’ll join us online for our very first Virtual Art Fair, made possible thanks to 35 participating galleries – 9 from Australia, 1 from the UK, 1 from Beijing and New York and 24 from across New Zealand - and our principal partners ANZ Private and Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).'

Valentina Pook, Age 5

'I don't like talking about the planet, maybe because it's too sad? But I want the world to look cleaner. On the news one day there was 1000 pieces of plastic in the sea. I'm hoping that will go away but if it doesn't I'll go down to the sea and clear it away. I hope everyone will be more careful of the planet. A kid I know, he always had plastic in his lunchbox. He'll stop that. After the corona virus is gone, I hope the world won't smell like anything but fresh air.

'I also want people to be kinder. Right now we don't go near people which is hard. I'm most excited about bursting our bubble with our grandma. We're going to give her big hugs and kisses.

'Parents are spending more time protecting their kids from the virus. When it's gone I hope that I get to spend time with my family. Mummy and Daddy need to work less and bike ride with us more. I have enjoyed having Mum and Dad at home more but miss seeing my friends. I'm going to be really happy to see all my friends and have some little playdates. It's my birthday in 6 weeks and I really hope I can have a party with them.

'After the corona virus is gone there will be a lot of people out and about at shops and supermarkets. And they'll be happy. We'll bike more than we drive. We'll be eating way more food. And we'll help out more. It's easier for our parents if we do. They cook, we clean. That means we all get to do something to help out and I really enjoy that.

'Oh and after the coron avirus is gone, I'd like a pet dog.'

Dame Pieter Stewart, New Zealand Fashion Week Founder

There will be opportunities for the New Zealand fashion industry.

'New Zealand Fashion Week turns 20 this year – what a milestone - to hold its position as the leading, longest-running creative industry event in the country. This is huge – not just for the event but for the entire fashion industry and all the wonderful people who have been involved over the last 20 years.

'A 2020 committee of industry experts had been set up to plan special celebrations, aiming to include as many of those designers as possible who began the journey with us in 2001. Partners were also coming up with exciting ideas to celebrate – to make sure they were part of this – we will never be 20 again! The prospectus was ready to go to the designers, but there was a niggle in the back of my mind as COVID-19 took hold across the globe and I began discussing postponement of the event because it was becoming clear that mass gatherings would be unlikely, even 5 months ahead. So we took the hard decision to postpone the event and essentially put the company into hibernation – until when – we don’t know.

'I worry for the fashion industry – they are all facing huge financial stress coming at them from every angle from loss of assets and income – virtually losing an entire season and most likely carrying a lot of inventory as there has been no opportunity to sell it and in some cases, inventory not yet paid for either. There will be very little money around for extras, the habits of shoppers are changing very quickly, and for many clothes will become a necessity rather than an option. There won’t be places to go, as mass gatherings are likely to be last to reappear, and for an industry highly reliant on discretionary spend, global travel, and physical retail stores, there will be a slowing of spending and decreased demand, and supply from international sources is likely to be unreliable.

'I applaud the government for so proactively looking after those in jobs – but there has been far less thought it seems for the person who pays that worker. Sure – everybody would like to have their workforce available once this is over – but how to pay them with absolutely no income and fixed costs still running, is the problem most business owners face. This is not unique to any industry right now, with the tourism and hospitality industries being affected for some time already and the knock-on effect not even something we can realistically imagine yet.

'Regardless of what has been said, many businesses these days run on very tight margins – it does not mean they are not strong businesses, and in many cases if we lose too many of these operations, we will lose the base of creativity that makes our country so special.

'As an event, we employ mainly contractors – and over the months of runup to the event there is a lot of them. The last analysis of this estimated we employed 124 full time equivalents – so that’s an awful lot of people who cannot look to NZFW for their income this year – and who knows whether these vibrant and creative events will ever become the norm again.

'We are getting a sense of what sustainability really means as we live in our bubbles focusing on our basic needs. Our days revolve around eating good food which we have planned for not just picked up at the takeaway, getting some fresh air and exercise so we don’t go stir crazy, and making an effort to get on with those in our bubble by being kind. We are so lucky to have the advantage of technology to easily be able to call, FaceTime, email others, and get our news from multiple different sources and where possible continue with work.

'Because we have no idea what our futures will look like – we are forced to live in the moment – something we all aspire to, but oh so hard to do, and I’m sure after a novel time of doing all sorts of things we haven’t had time to do for so long, and sleeping well because there is no point in worrying about it – the inevitable anxiety and uncertainty creeps into our minds, not helped by the fact that we can’t enjoy the company of our colleagues or get a hug when needed. Everything is on pause – a most unnatural situation for all of us.

'In this new conscious living, I hope we will leave the consumption of pre COVID 19 behind us and value more the simpler things of life. It’s time to break old habits and find new ways of living.

'The world has been on a treadmill of consumerism for some years, which coronavirus has highlighted, forcing us to slow down and giving the chance to change our ways – it really has only been a matter of time before a reset had to happen somehow.

'Internationally, the Luxury market has been mindboggling and from our corner of the world difficult to understand. So much of our everyday consumption has been excessive, highlighted by the fact that in lockdown we spend very little.

'So what are we left with after coronavirus? There will be many different scenarios in different businesses – certainly not one size fits all – but we do know the world will be different. We are facing a new life altogether.

'We have been encouraging our designers and supporting them to work towards responsible business models for some time – so as this amazing industry rebuilds, NZFW will also find ways to support the industry.

'Like the fashion industry worldwide, we face an uncertain future, but after a pretty tricky time for most, the industry will rebuild, and it’s a great opportunity with the enforced slower pace and social distancing to reinvent and recreate.

'It brings the values we have discussed such a lot lately into sharp focus and is the perfect opportunity for this industry to intensify discussions and actions and give more socially responsible brands the chance to shine.

'Creating relationships with the customer will be even more important – more often going bespoke and private, which I note some are planning already. Investment pieces that will last forever will become more important as the consumer becomes more responsible, with a much more local focus on buying and producing, and quality over quantity being key.

'NZFW has been encouraging the seasonless model for some time – fashion that can carry over from season on to season offering year round versatility, wearability and longevity and are always researching new ways of direct to consumer activity, facilitating the shorter fashion cycles, digitising, and fine tuning the fashion audience.

'The tensions between sustainable business models and responsible operations have been key challenges for many years and will be in the years ahead. New Zealand can show the way of increasing responsible operations by wherever possible sourcing more sustainable fabrics, streamlining operations, editing collections, avoiding overproduction, - all these things will help rebuild a stronger industry.

'We will find new ways of creating activations to donate, reuse, re-purpose, recycle and resale – our beautiful NZ fashion deserves many more than one life. Our designers have a reputation for making high quality clothes in beautiful fabrics – designed to last and look good after being worn many times.

'The New Zealand fashion industry is varied and diverse, and all need to strive for the best possible level of responsible and ethical business practice that works for each individual business, understanding their supply chain and looking towards long fashion rather than fast fashion.

'Although we cannot use Fashion Week this year to lead our industry in a conversation around this goal, NZFW will continue to explore ways to support this exciting creative industry as we leave the safe and predictable to explore new possibilities.'

Gary Fernandez, Fernandez Cutting Services

'I have been involved in the clothing industry for 55 years, starting out doing a five year apprenticeship in cutting. I went straight from school to train at a business called Rainster which was located in upper Queen St. It was a large factory, as many were in those days, employing one hundred plus staff. Back then all stages of production, design, cut and manufacture were done in house. Rainster specialised in men’s and women’s jackets and coats. We also cut upholstery for cars so we worked with a variety of different fabrics and the average cut consisted of 200-300 units.

'I remained there for a year or so after completing my apprenticeship and then left to see if I could make it on my own as a contract cutter working independently. I was probably one of a very small handful doing so at that time. To begin with I set up a cutting bench in the basement of my home before moving to my present premises where I have been ever since. In later years the industry began to grow and change. Businesses started sending work out to cutters and makers and back to their premises for distribution to retail outlets.

'In the early days a lot of fabric was produced in New Zealand in places such as the Bonds Mill in Otara, Auckland and I believe it was of better quality than what was sourced from overseas later on. The cost may have been higher but the garments would have been a lot more durable and kept for longer. I see a problem with the cheaper items being disposed of more frequently thus putting pressure on landfill. It would be good to see a return to using New Zealand made materials if feasible.

'It also concerns me that a lot of cutters are getting to the age of retirement (or past it like myself) and no-one is coming through the system to replace them. How to attract young people to the trade needs investigating. However I have enjoyed all the years I have spent in the industry and got a lot of satisfaction out of my contribution to it. I am heartened to see the younger people in the business of producing clothing today thinking about the future of it and how best to proceed.'

Ash Owens, Digital Content Creator & Social Media Influencer

'For most industries, especially in the creative and advertising world, people have had to reflect on decades of industry success, what works, what doesn’t, what needs to change, how to adapt to global events and trends. When a global pandemic hits, what has worked for twenty years simply just doesn’t anymore, businesses have had to adapt quicker than someone can say “recession”.

'As a full time self-employed millennial who uses social media platforms & a lifestyle blog to make a living, this downtime has been equally nerve wracking as it has been fascinating. The social media industry only has about 10 years to reflect on, influencer marketing.. maybe 5 at most here in New Zealand. In the world of business, that’s not a long time to cement your habits, to make mistakes you can learn from, so my ultimate hope for social media marketing is that it has the fluid, youthful naivety to ride the wave, go with the flow, and see success due to its ability to access constant two-way communication with social media users, AKA 74% of the New Zealand population as of 2018.

'This access to the population is hugely valuable, hence the success of social media marketing, but this means that there is a huge responsibility to understand the population, read the room and work accordingly, especially during a time of nationwide self-reflection and economic anxiety. For me personally, daily chit chats with my community via Instagram DM has been more important than ever, not only because I love connecting with people (truly a natural born blogger) but because I care about their interests, how the pandemic has made them feel. They are a community I have built over 5 years and a lot of them I speak to daily like they are my best friends in the offline world. I know that things like fashion & educational content about skincare is hugely distracting content to consume, and that people rely on it to maintain a relationship with their personal interests, but I also know that the way this content is sought after, the type of fashion and beauty content they are looking for has drastically changed over the last couple of years, and change is brewing even bigger as we speak.

'When it comes to shopping, New Zealanders value integrity, sustainability, locally made and quality products and it’s becoming more clear than ever before that the shift towards things like capsule wardrobes & ditching food delivery services to ordering direct from restaurants (because Kiwis are just awesome like that) are becoming more and more valued, especially as we endure this experience where we realise what matters, and also what we are happily able to live without.

'So how do social attitudes like this affect industries like advertising and social media marketing? Going forward I’m hoping for more long term relationships with brands and social media users. In the past, social media marketing has been all about getting as many one off sponsorships from various brands as possible, where brands are wanting to work with 30+ creators and creators are wanting to work with 10 different brands every month. This is where I see the biggest change coming and thank goodness because things were starting to get a little OTT.

'For social media marketing to continue working successfully with integrity, it has got to find a way to advertise with influencers & creators in a way that is honest, authentic and reflects how society is feeling right now, otherwise what’s the point? I know that when I discover a new brand, I want to support them long term, and this is how advertising has got to change. Brands and businesses need to pick wisely with social media influencers who align with their values, and work with them long term in more of an ambassadorship capacity rather than a quick one off job because that simply doesn’t hold the attention of New Zealanders whose values have changed and developed, especially during and after a pandemic. Kiwis want to see honesty and transparency more than ever before, and there’s nothing more honest than a mutual relationship between a brand and an influencer who has worked together for 2+ years, the love and passion is obvious and clear. This is where trust can be built with a nation that is under financial stress, and if advertising wants access to these people they have got to work with digital influencers and creators who are onboard with delivering advertising messages in the most authentic way possible, because it is possible, and it needs to happen.

'Valuable, long term relationships and collaborations, transparency, and mutual respect for brands, influencers and social media users is key for the industry going forward, and I cannot wait to see this industry flourish and mature as we all put a huge focus on communicating with one another. Social media is only in its infant age, so we all better buckle up and take control so that everyone can benefit from it.'

Lauren Gunn, Colleen Founder & Hair and Makeup Artist

'It has been a wild ride and it’s a pleasure now to be thinking about the good things that we can take from our experience with Covid-19.

'On Monday 20th March, Colleen closed our doors and said adieu to our clients for the foreseeable future. We stepped into the unknown and unpredictable world of lockdown. We also stepped into a new world of opportunity.

'Digital channels became our way of engaging with our clients. Last year we launched colleen.nz, our online shop and our platform for hair advice, insight and expertise. We started to use Instagram and IGTV, Livechat, SMS, email and Facebook, to interact, educate and connect with each other, and we loved it. I think the effects of Covid-19 lockdown has shown us that the scope and desire for human connection is boundless and opened up our eyes to the potential of the digital landscape to interact and extend our care for people’s hair beyond the salon to their living rooms and bathrooms. We can’t give someone a haircut over zoom (although some people have given it a crack) yet for every hairdresser it brings us so much pleasure to have even a small impact on how a person enjoys their hair day to day. Imagine how rewarding it is for us when we can extend that beyond the salon to hundreds or thousands of people. It brings us joy.

'Level 2 of lockdown has come with some pretty gnarly strings attached for us. We invested a lot of time preparing to meet our customer’s needs, and ‘read the room’. Yes, we had Ministry of Health guidelines to meet but it was much more important to us to set up the salon to provide care and consideration to anyone walking through the door plus absolutely nail what they wanted for their hair. The idea of going back to basics is interesting. Our customers hire us to give them good hair and that’s what we do. That has always been our focus and it always will be. Serving good coffee, playing great music, a beautiful fit-out, the latest magazine, stylists decked out in designer wardrobes – all of these are lovely things but they are pointless if you can’t do a good haircut or deliver a beautiful color for your customer in a reasonable timeframe. I feel very strongly about the value in what we do being placed squarely on our skills as crafts people. I hope that our experience with lockdown will bring that back into focus for our industry.

'Hairdressers are VERY into community. We have the tea on all the best local eating spots; fashion, coffee, dentists, physio, ceramics, beauty. Pretty much anything you can think of we have a hook up. I’m so excited by the Support Local movement. It took a global pandemic to make it a thing but I really hope that this is a movement that is here to stay.

'So, what does the future look like?'

Sarah Jane Hough, Creative Producer

'It has become expected that designers consider every step of their production process in order to make their businesses more ethical and sustainable. Everything needs to be taken into consideration. The story people want to know about a garment is made up of the sum of its parts - who made the fabric and from what, who did the sewing and under what conditions and at what impact on the community they came from. ‘Who made my clothes?’ is a growing movement that is fast becoming a mainstream way of thinking. Many brands are becoming greener not because they necessarily have a burning desire to do so but simply to keep up with what is expected.

'There is power in everyone expecting things to be done better - they get better.

'The back story of a photoshoot, of a show, of creative content or brand experiences has until very recently not been given the same level of industry wide scrutiny - as an industry we have a long way to go to catch up with our fashion industry contemporaries. As a Creative Producer I am looking to my friends and colleagues in the fashion industry to help me create my own path toward a more ethical and sustainable way of working. I want to tap into the collective energy around living up to the expectations of a cleaner kinder industry.

'As we move into the new normal I am excited to apply the same critical thinking that brands like RUBY, Maggie Marilyn and Kowtow apply to their supply chains. I have been asking myself questions around the resources I use and look at where things come from and how I can adapt what was normal to what I can do better. Simple switches like reusable water bottles have personally reduced the waste produced on my sets by about 1/3. Not printing call sheets has meant I have used less than a ream of paper this year in comparison to 10 reams this time last year. Simple changes that go along way.

'For me lockdown has given me a renewed sense of appreciation and love for what I do. A love for the people I get to work with, from the agencies who brief us on projects to the clients who trust us to tell their stories. I believe that pressing play again after eight weeks of stillness means we bring with us an energy and a commitment to do better because now we know better. Well at least I hope we do….. I mean it’s almost law in NZ to be kind these days!'

Grace Stratton, Co-Founder All is for All

'All is for All is a disability led business, as I am a wheelchair user. My hope for the future is that more disabled people can become business leaders and more businesses led by disabled people, can be enabled to reach higher heights. I think that for many years, disabled people have been unable to become leaders, due to inaccessible social structures and stigmas, I would like to think - I hope, that this period of time can illuminate the need to break these down - and pursue equity, above all.

'My hope for the future, is also that we measure success in diverse ways. Economic success is only one measurement, equally important is doing better for people and planet. Investing in belonging, inclusive culture, accessibility - these should be measures of our success too - and they should be upheld just as much as our economic successes. I hope that if we can shift toward holistic investment, we can build companies that also create a better world - and give as much back, as they may take.'