Designer opens in Ferrymead

READY TO WEAR: DUAL Design founder Caro Allison.
READY TO WEAR: DUAL Design founder Caro Allison.

DUAL Design founder Caro Allison has been crafting fashionable clothing since the mid 1990s but the earthquakes have seen her Christchurch operation reduced to a tight fit temporary retail space.

The earthquakes "bowled" her Lyttelton store, but now Allison is ready to begin retail again in Christchurch in a tiny Ferrymead unit, such is her determination to begin a business expansion process for the second time.

She started the business from her own Lyttelton home in the 1990s with made to measure trousers for young men who were skaters or wanting to display urban street fashions. Soon their sisters were wearing the extra wide leg trousers, and then the mums.

"They started bringing their girlfriends, then the skaty urban stores saw them on the street and then got hold of me . . . for some reason they wanted wide leg in New Zealand and they weren't able to import them fast enough," Allison remembers.

The first label was DEMO but in 2003 Allison changed it to DUAL and opened a number of retail outlets including Lyttelton, Matakana (north of Warkworth) and Pukekohe.

In January 2011 she and her daughter Sam travelled north to run the Matakana Store but they were back in Christchurch by July 2011 to help consolidate the business after the earthquake damage closed the Lyttelton shop.

A health scare with multiple sclerosis, now in remission, persuaded her also to close Pukekohe.

Allison and her small business team have been working to open the DUAL store at Settlers Cres, Ferrymead, and will launch the outlet today.

Later she hopes to shift to The Tannery Boutique Shopping Emporium, being redeveloped by Alasdair Cassels in Woolston.

She loves clothes design but finds administration and running a small business eats into her design time.

However, she has built up a good team of about seven, while also outsourcing some of the manufacture of clothes to Sockburn-based Treallus.

"My biggest challenge is sitting down and designing. You end up administrating or organising."

She has increased her designs too, to include skirts, merino tops, tunics, and jackets as well as tops for men. Some of her products, particularly the coats, could be tailored for the client and skirts and trousers had a very long life for wearers, she said.

She had diversified into supplying staff uniforms for outdoors groups including the Treble Cone skifield operators, and this year would chase other operators such as those at Cardrona.

But she does not want to work too hard fulfilling orders, and run the risk of falling ill again.

"Now I'm really listening to my intuition as to what feels right, because when I opened Pukekohe I had doubts and if I'd listened to those I wouldn't have opened there . . . we weren't known and in Auckland it takes a long time to establish a fashion label."

The Press