Designer Spotlight: Aroha Wikotu of Shikoba
“Shikoba is supplying a niche market, 30+ women who like to wear distinctive and well made clothes that not only make them look and feel good but gives them satisfaction at being sustainable and wearing garments made In NZ!” – Aroha Wikotu
Based in Hamilton Aroha Wikotu is a firm believer in fashion with a heart. She uses only natural and eco friendly fabrics and as a member of The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) she plans to take the sustainable business challenge next year.
Tell us a little bit about the Shikoba story – Where did your fashion dreams begin?
When I was about 12 I Started Dreaming up clothing that I wanted to wear but I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the shops! A beginner sewer I couldn’t even find patterns to make to go with what I had dreamed up, so I had to start changing patterns that were as close as I could get to my designs.
Three words to describe the Shikoba style?
Distinctive, eco designer, quality.
Three words to describe the Shikoba lifestyle?
Balanced, creative, passionate
What is one of the greatest challenges you face as a designer in this economic and ecological climate?
Sales – a necessity in fashion but when stores are closing their doors times are tough. But, designers who are able to think outside the square will survive. The challenge to keep sales from falling was an exciting experience for Shikoba. I have gained new clients, networks and a better understanding of my customers, all of which will increase my sales and profitability at the end of the day.
What does a day in the life of Aroha Wikotu look like?
It’s a bit of a mash really. I’m Mum first and foremost to my 6 year old daughter and newest addition to the family; ‘Bear’ a 5 month old Rottweiler. Once they are sorted I take to my business tasks which differs a lot depending on what part of the year I’m in. Right now I’m managing my summer production due in September and also sampling my winter 2010 collection. So lots of drafting in my studio, trips to outworkers and liaising with wholesalers and printers.
Most days I pick my daughter up from school and take her to an array of activities including, dance, soccer & swimming. Dinner making is shared between myself and my partner and then its family relax time unless of course I’m behind …..then I’m back into my studio for a night session!
The best part about your job?
Love what I’m doing! I get to be my own boss!
What have been some of the most useful tools that you would recommend to others when starting your own fashion business?
Being organised, believing in yourself, being passionate about your dream and prepared to work really really hard to get there.
Being “clean and green” is a passion of Shikoba – how has this developed?
I was brought up to respect nature, so being ‘clean and green’ has always been part of me and naturally I’ve wanted that for Shikoba as well. Greenies have been a minority group for so long and now I see an exciting future of change where we could become a majority.
How do you respond to critics who treat “the green buzz” as a fad or trend?
They don’t fully understand the impact we have on our environment or how we as people can change. I believe we have no future if we don’t change now, and we don’t have an option to go back to the way we were. The more people that choose to be more sustainable the better, even if they think it’s just a fad or trend.
Best piece of advice given to you when starting out in this crazy world?
Believe in yourself.
And fashionable dreams for the future?
I will have achieved my dream when my business and personal life run seamlessly and are balanced with one another!
Shikoba clothing has stockists all over New Zealand. For more information please visit the Shikoba website http://www.shikobaclothing.co.nz