Aida Maeby. Gorgeous women’s wear designed and made in Wellington by the gorgeous Jess Matthews. I’ve been following this clever lady along for a while now and she was one of my Christmas small business picks.
She recently collaborated with the equally amazing Lucy of Born in Daylight textiles and magic was born. A brand new collection due for release mid February. I’m so excited to have these two on my blog as they are the epitome of what my work is about. Small business, collaboration and their values align so perfectly with mine. I caught up with Jess to find out more about her gorgeous clothes and the reasons around the collaboration.
Who are you? What do you do in the small business world?
I’m Jess. I like to sing, I love to garden, I make a lot of clothes. I’m the owner and designer of Aida Maeby, women’s fashion that’s proudly made in Wellington by myself and a small team of outworkers (sewing gurus who work from their homes also). I live in a beautiful part of Wellington called Vogeltown, where we back onto the town green belt – something that influences and inspires me every day. I’m fiercely dedicated to slow fashion and, while it seems super counter-intuitive, I like to support the ideal of buying less in all factors of life, including clothing.
How did you come to be in Wellington?
I came to Wellington under a bit of duress – my husband had some career opportunities to chase up in the capital and since our second baby was just about due we decided to take the plunge (and also to be a bit closer to helpful grandparents). I hadn’t ever thought of myself leaving Auckland again, let alone moving to cold, dark, distant Wellington, but it only took a few weeks in our new home for me to realise that it was the best decision we could ever have made. I think it’d take something pretty major to get us out of here.
Tell us about your collaboration….what is involved? How does collaboration help your work?
I met Lucy at antenatal group. We hit it off right away, partially I think because I had been working in the fashion industry and she had been working for one of our major fabric suppliers . While our babies grew up together we made little bits and pieces and sold things at markets, basically whatever we felt like creating at the time. Once I moved to Wellington and decided the time was right to have a go at starting up a business, Lucy was venturing into three years of fulltime study to gain her degree in textile design. It seemed only natural and right that we would make our way into a fashion print run together, just as we have made our way into countless other life situations together. I had a basic idea about the feel I wanted from the fabric and a lot of source imagery that I had either researched or photographed from the bush around my house, so I sent it all up to her and she then used her magic to translate what I had given her into several amazing print ideas – the hardest part was choosing one! Creating a print that is exclusive to Aida Maeby brings further originality to the label and collection. It can be quite limiting when selecting fabric that is already designed to fit within your own design inspiration, so it made sense to collaborate with Lucy. Creating this print not only brings originality to the brand but it supports local businesses and celebrates the place I call home, good old NZ.
What inspires your work? How has it changed over the years?
I find myself more and more drawn to inspirations close to home, like the bush, my neighbourhood, local projects, friends who become almost like a muse – I’m spiraling in rather than spiraling out. There’s still the odd foreign film which gets my pencil moving but I’m more likely to be reading an article about sustainable/minimalist building practices or local permaculture when an idea strikes.
Who is your customer? Why does she buy from you?
My customer can be anywhere between 25 and 50. She’s increasingly interested in where her clothes, food, coffee, keep-cups are coming from. She likes classic shapes with a bit of a quirk, or a surprising detail. She frikken loves dresses with pockets. She’s boutique > chain store any day and I love her for it, and isn’t concerned about what’s “in” or what’s “new”, only what provokes a response in her and she knows she’ll pull this dress/skirt/jacket out for many years in many ways. It’s one of the reasons we offer question-free returns on online purchases – I like to envision women taking a chance on a garment and taking a couple of days to play around with everything else she has to see if it works in conjunction with the things she already owns. For these reasons it’s important that they know we’re made in New Zealand because there’s a traceability aspect that comes from small, local business. When you email the company, that’ me replying because there literally is no-one else.
Are you NZ customers different from the rest of the world?
I honestly couldn’t tell you the difference between NZ customers and overseas customers, I’ve had exclusively onshore buyers as far as I know apart from one gal from Australia winning a dress and sending a dress to Las Vegas to someone who turned out to be from Otago half the year anyway 😉
What do you love about Queenstown? Do you have a favourite place to visit here?
Queenstown feels so escapey and exotic to me! I’ve not visited since before the kids came along so for me it represents that getaway destination where you can sloth about and skip from flat white to flat white, or just look up at the beautiful scenery, both things I find it hard to make time for right now. I’m yet to come down and take my husband’s cousins Free Walking Tour but that’ll be the first stop we make to get a good feel for what’s available now!