Sewing business back from brink

OUT OF THE FLAMES: Jo Singer at her Invercargill fashion business, Land South Apparel and rath boutique.
OUT OF THE FLAMES: Jo Singer at her Invercargill fashion business, Land South Apparel and rath boutique.

It's been a long and frustrating process for Jo Singer, but the Invercargill woman hopes her fire-ravaged business will be back by next week.

Fire crews were called to Land South Apparel and rath boutique, formerly Apteryx Clothing, in Dee St, on July 31.

The fire, believed to have started after an iron was left on, destroyed designer collections as well as garments from Mrs Singer's own boutique, which had its opening just two days earlier.

Yesterday, Mrs Singer said about 20 sewing machines were on their way to the business, which would operate out of a neighbouring property - a former saddlery - while the front section of her property was rebuilt.

The machines took about three days to set up, and it was hoped they would be built and ready to go by the middle of next week.

But getting to this point had been a real effort.

"Frustrating would be the best way to put it," she said. "It's just the waiting . . . it just takes time for things to happen, it's all the nitty-gritty little bits you have to do."

There were no problems with her insurance but a payout had not come through in time for her to buy the machines. She had done so anyway, in an attempt to get her business back on track as soon as possible, she said.

Designers needed their upcoming summer collections immediately, she said.

"They've all been really good but they're starting to, understandably, panic . . . their deadlines have just about been and gone. We've got to try and do as much of the work as we can. It's going to be big hours for the girls," she said.

The company had missed out on some orders as clients were forced to go elsewhere to complete their pieces, and there had also been problems paying staff because insurance payments did not come through in time, she said.

The number of staff at the business was now down from 14 to 10, she said.

There had been some moments she thought she would be unable to get the business back on its feet, she said. "Of course there has, definitely. You just think ‘this is more trouble than it's worth'."

However, she was as determined as ever to keep going.

"I love it. I love it, and I've got 10 staff out there who rely on this to keep going, plus the designers."

The Southland Times