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Women in Business: The sisters behind FashioNZ

How is the end of August already?! NZFW is upon us and FashioNZ is your all-access pass! As the official online media partner for NZFW, FashioNZ will be bringing you all the news and announcements, as well as interviews and stories you won’t find anywhere else. They will have full coverage of every show for the week including galleries, reviews, beauty notes and all the action from on and off the runway.

We catch up with the team behind making it all happen. The second in our Women in Business portrait series, it is a pleasure to introduce FashioNZ Editor, Evelyn with her sister and business partner Carolyn.

Carolyn and Evelyn of FashioNZ for Saben Women in Business portrait series

Carolyn and Evelyn of FashioNZ for Saben Women in Business portrait series1

Follow along and stay up to date 

How long have you been at the helm and can you share a bit your journey getting there?

E & C: Thank you, we’re so excited to be celebrating 20 years of FashioNZ. Evelyn had been reading the site since the beginning and had written for the site on and off since 2011. She became editor in October 2015 and we both took over as the new owners in March 2016. Carolyn was based in Brisbane at the time and moved back home last April to work on FashioNZ. It’s been a busy two and a half years as we relaunched the site in its current incarnation in November 2016 and have been redefining what we do and growing the team again. We’re really pleased with how things are going and the huge amount of support we’ve had from the fashion industry here in NZ.
Partnering with NZFW is major, what does this mean for FashioNZ and for you personally?

E: We were thrilled when NZFW approached us with the idea earlier in the year. We’ve really enjoyed working with the wonderful team there and they have been really supportive of us which has been great. For FashioNZ it’s fantastic recognition and personally I’m thrilled about it.
C: It has been such an honour partnering with NZ Fashion Week! The build-up and work behind the scenes to get to August 27th has been phenomenal and such a pleasure to work with such an amazing and talented team of people.
What will your focus be at NZFW?

E & C: The shows are our focus of the week, we’ll be delivering full galleries and reviews from every show on the NZFW trade schedule and daily highlights from Fashion Weekend. Our site will be constantly updated as will our social media so if you want to know what’s happening at fashion week you definitely want to be checking FashioNZ.

When did you attend your first NZFW and what’s your standout memory from it?

E: My first NZFW show was Yvonne Bennetti in 2006 which I attended as a guest and I loved it. I didn’t yet work in fashion (that didn’t happen until 2008), but I remember knowing it was what I wanted to do I just wasn’t sure how to go about it yet. I don’t remember much of the show itself now aside from the velvet and sequins but I do remember the buzz and energy of the show and how excited people were heading into it.

C: Last year was my first NZFW on site which was awesome, as the previous year was just me uploading everything from my place in Brisbane. Zambesi was my first show which was incredible. I remember they had Prodigy pumping and flash lights going off and the first look was an amazing silver suit with silver doc martens and this wicked reflective runway. It was just such a cool show and a great way to start my first fashion week.

Have you got a favourite memory from the NZFW archives?

E: Way too many, NZFW is my favourite fashion week of the year. Aside from the shows, it’s also about the people, after ten years at NZFW it now feels like a big extended family to me and I love having lots of my favourite people in one place for the week.

What show(s) are you most looking forward to this year?

E: Trelise Cooper’s return to NZFW is definitely one to get excited about. Twenty-seven Names, Hailwood and Kathryn Wilson are favourites of mine. Not to mention Rachel Mills, Wynn Hamlyn and Not For You. I can’t wait to see what the New Gen and Emerging Couture designers present too.
C: Edmund Hillary, Not for You, Hailwood, Huffer, New Gen and Trelise Cooper!
FashioNZ is hosting their own event, tell us about it!

E&C: We’re looking forward to hosting a panel discussion on the future of fashion on Friday morning. It’s being hosted by Sonia Sly who does the brilliant fashion podcast My Heels Are Killing Me. We’ve got a killer panel including footwear designer Kathryn Wilson, Augustine's designer and co-founder Kelly Coe, veteran designer and head judge of iD Dunedin Fashion Week Tanya Carlson, Maggie Marilyn's designer and founder Maggie Hewitt, director and founder of Showroom 22 Murray Bevan and Whitecliffe College of Art and Design's HOD fashion design Belinda Watt. It’s going to be an hour long discussion for anyone interested in fashion which we hope people will find inspiring and useful.

For more info about the FashioNZ NZFW event click here!
Or to get tickets from iTicket here
Our Exhale collection is all about finding time and space to be present. We know how demanding NZFW can be, so in light of the idea of mindfulness; what’s your key to surviving the week?

C: Being as prepared as we can be and getting enough sleep!

E: Organisation is definitely key. There are ten people on our team and a lot of shows so we need to put in the work beforehand so things run as smoothly as they can. It’s really important to enjoy the moment too, as much as fashion weeks are hectic for us, taking in the amazing garments that are in front of you and having fun is important too. 
Beyond this week, and in an industry that demands up to date, of the minute content – how do you unwind and switch off?

E &C: We both try and have at least one day off our computers over the weekend. We’re still trying to get the balance of not working everyday which can be hard when you’re a small business.
C: Pinot noir definitely helps me unwind haha and making sure I can go for walk even if it’s 10 minutes helps me switch off.
E: It’s really hard to completely switch off as our site is obviously online 24/7 and these days people expect social media to be constantly updated too. I love the beach and being somewhere there is less noise is great so I try and get out of the city every few weeks.
Tell us what it is like working with your sister!

C: It can be challenging at times haha but all in all it’s great! Because we know each other so well (funny that) we both know when the other needs to be pushed or when to back off which you don’t get in a typical working environment. We have also have very similar senses of humour which definitely helps us get through the more stressful times.
E: We actually get that question a lot but it works really well for us. Our skills complement each other perfectly and we have the same work ethic which is great. We have some silly stuff and a particularly embarrassing unofficial theme song which keeps us sane when things get full on.
What’s next for FashioNZ?

E&C: At the moment we’re not thinking a much past fashion week! But otherwise we’re continuing to develop our long term plans for the site and create new and exciting stories every week. There is always a lot to do but we love working for ourselves and doing the best we can to support so many wonderful NZ businesses.
Evelyn, we know you love navy. Your Saben Dash hardly left your shoulder! What drew you to the chestnut tan from our Exhale collection?

Yes, I’m such a navy fan, and the Dash has been my constant companion for a year now. Is it bad that I love the chestnut tan because it looks so good with my navy wardrobe? Haha. It really does though and I’m adoring my new Rebe in chestnut which is just beautiful and won’t be leaving my side during NZFW.
Carolyn you had so many favourites! What do you look for when choosing your Saben handbag?

A bag that will be really versatile and will work with whatever I’m wearing be that day or night, at work or out for dinner. I’ll always get a crossbody bag and Saben have such a great range them. Especially in the latest collection Exhale – spoilt for choice with the Mae, Milly, Finn, Tilly and Cami.

Sister duo behind online fashion news hub FashioNZ

Shop their favourite pieces here, including Milly, Rebe Chestnut, Frankie Prussian and Yasmin Tote - all pictured above.