Smalls Merino launched in Selfridges London in 2014 with a mission to re-imagine the way we wear wool. Sustainability and traceability have always been at the core of everything they do, and for that reason they have always exclusively used 100% ZQ Merino. A British brand with New Zealand heritage, Smalls are about “buying less and choosing well, and working with very best makers, farmers and mills.” Founders Emma-Jane and Catriona caught up with us from London to answer a few questions.
Q. Where in New Zealand are you both from, and where do you live now?
Emma: I grew up on a farm in a village called Clevedon so spent my childhood surrounded by animals, we moved to inner city Auckland for my teenage years, and I have lived in London since I moved here for my ‘O.E’ in 1998. With a couple of diversions two years in Australia and four in the English countryside, we have settled back in my favourite part of London, Little Venice.
Cat: My roots are in West Auckland, I grew up in Titirangi, spending weekends at Karekare Beach where my dad was in the Surf Club, and every Holiday with my grandmother on Waiheke Island. I feel so fortunate to have grown up in such beautiful places. My Mum is British, and I spent 2 years as a child living in the UK. I accidently moved to back London with my now husband in 1999 after coming for a two-week visit. We somehow never left, and I now live in leafy West London with my family.
Q. Why do you think the connection to New Zealand is so important to your British and European consumers?
Emma: The answer is twofold. Our brand came about over a glass of wine in Cats kitchen in 2012 because we wanted good quality well designed Merino basics for our children, that we couldn’t find locally. In the subsequent two years developing our brand, New Zealand was without question an inherent part of that story, because it gave us a connection home. We were adamant from the outset that we must have exclusively New Zealand Merino and that we would know where our wool came from. Our desire to connect back to our homeland, the farms and the sheep, and our customers connection to us and our brand story gives them a stronger appreciation for the whole picture, truly knowing where your wool comes from, and who made it into beautiful garments.
Secondly, the age-old perception of New Zealand as the most beautiful place on earth and its almost otherworldly distance from us in Europe is a wonderfully unique selling point, as kiwis, Cat and I are so proud to show off our homeland.
Q. What would be your go-to Smalls piece to give as a gift, for someone trying the brand for the first time?
Emma: I would have to say our Women’s Cami, I absolutely live in mine day and night 365 days a year, summer or winter, I think it’s the best value and hardest working piece of clothing in my wardrobe.
Cat: I have to agree with Emma, our Women’s Cami is a beautiful fit. Can be worn on its own in the summer and underneath everything in the Winter. It’s the softest and most comforting layer next to the skin. I rarely take mine off and it’s the most requested gift from friends and family!
Q. What’s your proudest moment in the journey of Smalls so far?
Emma: Cat and I being invited to Dumfries House by Campaign for Wool, being amongst only a handful of women in the room and meeting Prince Charles and Paul Smith was a biggie! That and launching in Selfridges and showing my Mum our display in Harrods!
Cat: All of the above and every time we meet a customer who is a huge fan. It’s the best confirmation that we’re doing a good job and making people happy in the process. Filming with the Jones Family in New Zealand and seeing the beautiful footage of the incredible place our wool comes from has to be right up there.
The NZM team recently visited the Jones family on Matarae Station (with some gorgeous product in hand), to capture some content for Smalls to use across their marketing channels. Check out some of the behind the scenes below.