Fashion sisters a runway success story

Keri Wanoa, left, and Brooke Strang of Wanoa Four.

Keri Wanoa, left, and Brooke Strang of Wanoa Four.

A last minute decision to enter a fashion competition has set creative sisters on a path to business success.

Sisters Brooke Strang, of Nelson and Keri Wanoa of New Plymouth left it late to enter their Wanoa Four clothing brand in the Miromoda runway show in Wellington.

"After a lot of deliberation in the last few days we decided to enter," Strang said.

Keri Wanoa, left, and Brooke Strang of Wanoa Four.

Keri Wanoa, left, and Brooke Strang of Wanoa Four.

"We then had a very limited timeline to come up with eight new looks for the Miromoda fashion competition. Lucky we work well under pressure, it really was the push we needed."

The hard work paid off – Wanoa Four was crowned overall supreme winners at the June competition run by the Indigenous Maori Fashion Apparel Board in Porirua.

"To win the overall supreme award was very surreal, we both felt good after showing our collection to the judges and were very pleased with their feedback and advice going forward with our label," Strang said.

"A part of us was also relieved that they actually liked our collection. If nothing else we were happy to take that away with us from the competition."

The win meant an opportunity to show at New Zealand Fashion Week in August.

"[It] was an absolute whirlwind," Strang said.

"Having only eight weeks to design and make our winter 2017 collection and presenting our first showroom to international trade buyers and media while preparing for the show was overwhelming at times but well worth the blood, sweat and tears.

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"There was a really calm energy out the back before our show and we were fairly organised which made it a fun experience."

Strang and Wanoa  grew up in Westport and have two other sisters, who help with the brand whenever they can.

"Our brand ultimately reflects four sisters, who we are and where we come from," Strang said.

"We both work on design, Keri makes our samples and her husband hand carves and makes our jewellery and we have a small team of outworkers. Everything is designed by us and made in New Zealand."

Strang said it had been a lifelong dream to build a brand together with her sister and that dream came true when they launched Wanoa Four in February.

"We have worked together on numerous fashion projects over the years, helping each other out within our own businesses so it was a seamless transition for us into Wanoa Four."ntsIStrang lives in Nelson with her family and her sister lives in New Plymouth.nte

Geographical distance is no barrier for the sisters.

"Being able to bounce ideas off each other is fabulous a key component to our business and makes for some interesting late night Skype banter among the four of us."

So what's next for Wanoa Four?

Strang said a few New Zealand stores were keen on stocking their label since the fashion week. In Auckland they also had interest from Australian stores and were approached by Elle Magazine. "This was a real eye opener and very insightful to be able to meet and talk with such experienced people in the fashion industry."


 - Stuff

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