How did you express your creativity as children?
We had a wonderful childhood surrounded by a large extended family on the beautiful Hawkes Bay village of Haumoana. We spent our days making things, making elaborate costumes for home movies, dressing up, making huts, writing stories, choreographing music videos, drawing, creating fabulous get-ups for our toys, and making the most creative prezzies for each other. From the age of five we were sewing the family lavender bags for every occasion!
How did you come to work in the arts?
We feel that it was inevitable – a natural progression. All throughout our lives we have been making. We both always knew we wanted a creative job. We just didn’t realise it was in fashion until our later teenage years. Harriet wanted to be an artist and Ella wanted to be a ballet dancer. We have a really close family that supports each other. We all believe in doing what makes you happy, and we have a really good time together. Our extended family too, aunties and over thirty cousins, are a huge support!
Is creativity embraced in New Zealand?
Where we come from in New Zealand particularly supports people doing their thing and getting creative. Haumoana is an art-filled, relaxed beach town. Now we are both in Wellington, a creative city, surrounded by our design peers and both having been at Massey University design school we may have a somewhat skewed perception. We are so lucky to have so many skilled people around us who embrace Love Hotel and help us with our dream!
Tell us about some challenges you have faced as creative women...
The main challenge is making our huge ideas work in reality. We are always sad to be constrained with time and money when we just want to make some beautiful silk clothes and put on elaborate shows every week! For Ella, she is challenged because she is just so messy; she has a project going on in every corner of the house. Harriet faces the challenge of being scared to put herself out there. She likes to hold things back, keep her projects a secret until they are better. It really helps having a label together, so they put their stuff out to the world together.
I (Harriet) was afraid to put myself out there creatively so I waited for someone to work with, and Ella is the perfect team! Money is always a road block to getting to where you want to go, we have had a huge range of jobs in our time so far. We both have a bit of a time management problem too. So we have to create our own deadlines and stick to them, which is a challenge.
The design process is never complete! Being businesswomen is a constant learning curve. We learnt quickly a beautiful one-off dress is very different to several put into production. Therefore when we design we need to think carefully about the right design and fabric choice to create beautiful garments, but still at a profit. We will forever be refining this art. We have big goals – often referring to “the empire” we want to build.
Love Hotel is all a big highlight for us. But we did really love showing for our first time at New Zealand Fashion Week this year, it was one of our first goals we made. And it is always a real high when you see someone wearing one of our garments and they feel and look fabulous in it! We just love it when we see other people feeling great in our creations. We have a really good time working together; we are living the dream!
Have you ever felt different because of your creativity?
We can be very obsessive and over-excited about Love Hotel... sometimes we need to take that away from other people! Love Hotel talk is banned when we go back home to the family dinner table. Not many people share the same passion for polka dots as we do.
What are your relationship styles?
We tend to disappear off the face of the earth to work at sporadic times; doing bursts of intense Love Hotel, meaning everything else disappears! We have to make sure we are still in the real world. We spend time with close friends and family and are lucky to have a lot of fun creative gems in our lives. A few close friends, lots of friends and cousins from childhood. Our other sister is our best friend.
Advice Do what you love to do. Think big, and go large! I like to start with a quality goal making session, and then make a scrap book.
What/who inspires you?
Our mother Jane – she’s a guru, when we are sewing we always say W.W.J.D.? What Would Jane Do? Also design-wise, Sonia Rykiel is a huge inspiration to us, she puts on a fantastic show. Fabric, polka dots, shades of pink, Sonia Rykiel fashion shows, coffee and discussions of building an empire, dancing, dressing up, movie nights under the stars on piles of cushions, making huts and tents in the trees, swimming in the rough Haumoana waves, sunbaking on greywacke stones, making pancakes late in the morning, imagining elaborate fashion shows, raunchy literature, sexy Gustav Klimt sketches... Our last collection was inspired when gossiping with our friends about their range of different love lives. That got us on a roll, discussing the modern woman’s dating practices. The collection was called Love on Line. It is very important that we are able to express ourselves. We don’t feel like we really have a choice. We often have dreams of new garments and techniques like a new way to sew in the pocket, we can’t really keep it in. For both of us we express it all. Sometimes a little too much. It really helps to be around other creative women. Collaboration means that you can achieve more, being a team it just makes so much more possible. We feel really lucky to have a great number of other creative friends and family and people to offer advice and enthusiasm and collaborate with us. For our team, it is really important for us to be around each other because we can create together, but because we are sisters we can also be cut throat. It is good to have a critical eye as well as a creative one. Our sisterhood collaboration is full on!
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