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Siouxsie & the superbugs


Heading Auckland University’s Bioluminescent Superbugs Lab, Dr Siouxsie Wiles has formulated a career which combines her twin loves of bioluminescence and infectious diseases. In short, Siouxsie and her team make bacteria that glow in the dark… not your everyday job!

 

PHOTOGRAPHY ARVID ERIKSSON

 

The cool, calm microbiologist became an unconventional expert delivering vital information to a panicked public right from the outset of COVID-19.

Communicating with the public goes against the very grain of academia, a world which Siouxsie says seems to mostly value internal communication amongst peers.

“That’s how we get promoted, how we get grants, how academia survives, but actually that’s not where the research finishes,” Siouxsie explains.

“I’m a firm believer that research needs to be communicated much more widely.”

Siouxsie recalls demanding an exemption from dissecting a rat in a high school biology class, which is quite ironic, given her career.

“Of all the people I went to school with, I was the one that ended up doing animal research!” she states.

When she won an award for research relating to the use of animals in science early in her career, she didn’t want her name to be made public. “I was fearful of how people would respond. It’s an emotionally difficult subject, but that’s why I’m so driven to do things more humanely.”

The organisation responsible for the award sat her down and helped her understand that by not going public, she was in fact contributing to public misunderstanding of science.

“They explained to me that this was an important part of the conversation about medical research that was missing,” a conversation which ended up becoming a core theme of her later career.

Siouxsie began working with artists and illustrators to make science accessible and by the outbreak of COVID-19 she had 15 years of experience talking about science to different audiences.

“When COVID-19 happened, having that understanding of what was going on and being able to help people understand what they didn’t know was something I had the skill to do.”

She immediately got to work with cartoonist Toby Morris and through their combined talents, spent lockdown communicating complicated ideas is a way we could all digest.

“This work has shown me the impact I can have,” Siouxsie says. “As a scientist, you always hope you will benefit society in some way.

My work to discover new antibiotics is ongoing and the benefits will take time, but this has shown me that through communication I can have a positive impact.

“At a time when the world needed good information, it’s the thing I’m most proud of. It shows those who have been dismissive of the importance of communication that they were wrong.”

She’s referring to when she sought to upskill in the communication area and was warned that it would ruin her career, coupled with the suggestion from her peers that she wasn’t a “real” scientist, but rather just a “science communicator”.

But then Siouxsie has never been afraid of a challenge – whether it’s challenging people’s ideas, stereotypes or even traditions.

She has been outspoken about having more women in science and has even taken on Lego in a TEDx talk on gender-stereotyping within toys produced by the global manufacturer.

“The research is clear, when there are diverse viewpoints and lived experiences, better outcomes are made,” she says.|

The career-long criticism which seems to come with female success in a male dominated profession has given her a thick skin; one that was needed upon the outbreak of COVID-19 because, while the pandemic has thrust science – and Siouxsie herself – into the global consciousness, a high profile comes at a high cost.

There have been nasty comments and ongoing harassment, from her vibrant hair to her supposed involvement in a global conspiracy.

When the first cases hit headlines, Siouxsie expressed in an interview that there didn’t seem to be much to be overly concerned about yet.

Within weeks the emerging pandemic escalated, along with her concerns.

However, she continues to get sent that January interview from people pointing out how wrong she is.

“That interview was based purely on what we knew at the time,” she explains.

“People don’t seem to understand that a scientist’s views are supposed to change as evidence changes,” she says of science which, by its very definition, is the study of the physical and natural world through “observation and experiment”.

While she’s still catching up after a busy six-months, Siouxsie is hoping to squeeze in a holiday with her daughter and husband this year.

However, she worries about the growing portion of New Zealanders demanding we open up the borders.

“The reality is we’re in a very scary position right now because the pandemic is raging overseas and many other countries seem to have given up for various reasons. The more this carries on overseas, the louder the voices here are that say we can’t stay isolated forever.

“I’m worried about how this will go so a big part of my focus will be on trying to keep up with what’s going on overseas and communicating why we are in such a privileged position.
“I’m not advocating to stay completely cut off, but we do have to be very careful about how we open up.”

Gwen Isaac offers a unique insight into Siouxsie’s role in a defining moment in New Zealand history, with the documentary maker turning her talented hand to Siouxsie & the Virus; part of a collection of eight Loading Docs short documentaries to be released late-August 2020.


 

Wig-ging out


Gin Wigmore is using her extraordinary gravelly voice to speak up for the underdog. She tells Melinda Collins about a cause close to her heart.

 

Gritty, powerful and just a little bit badass could equally be used to describe Gin Wigmore’s music or her aesthetic and, while singing is still her first love, the Kiwi powerhouse who wrote her first award-winning song Angelfire at just 14 is now using her distinctively raspy voice to speak out and speak up.

Free for the first time of the constraints of a major label since her debut album, 2009’s Holy Smoke, the Auckland-born, now US-based singer and songwriter is “elated!”

“Truly elated. It feels like I have come loose from the pack to ride on my own. And I love it!”

Symbolising the milestone, her newly-released single Hangover Halo, is about finding contentment in one’s self, its inspiration drawn from “The lessons I have learned from youth into adulthood and in turn having a reflective moment on how simply being granted the opportunity to be born and exist on this amazing planet is one of a humbling and wonderful experience,” she says.

“So for that alone, I must raise a toast to being alive.”

Putting money where her mouth is, a portion of the proceeds of Hangover Halo are going to support Panthera – an organisation solely devoted to the conservation of the world’s wild cats and their ecosystems.

“For this specific single I am focusing on big cats, specifically tigers, as they are facing near extinction,” Wigmore explains.

“On a real basic level, I just think tigers are super rad and I don’t want them to die out due to human exploitation. If we are the problem, we are also the solution. We must be vigilant in their protection against poachers. We must be vigilant in protecting their natural habitats and making room on this planet for all other beings so we can co-exist in freedom and peace. And this is exactly what Panthera does; they work to protect the natural habitats for these beautiful animals as well as implement intensive training programs to prevent and apprehend poachers.”

The rest of 2020 will see Wigmore release a stream of music which will also support and highlight different endangered animals of the world and the animal charities that will be set up for donation in support of them.

But supporting the underdog has recently taken a literal turn for the long-time vegetarian. “I actually took the next step into a fully vegan lifestyle just a few months ago,” she says.

“For me, being vegetarian was not enough. Dairy farming is equally as cruel and f***ed up in its treatment of animals to be able to satisfy the demand on a global scale, so I decided I wasn’t going to be a part of that demand any longer.”

Singing was always her first love and despite now adding ‘hotelier’ to her list of professional credentials with the purchase of a hotel in the desert in Palm Springs, it is singing that still has her heart.

It was music through which Wigmore first connected with her now-husband, musician Jason Butler, who heads artist-oriented collective 333 Wreckords, and released Wigmore’s latest music.

“It’s very comforting to be in a creative collective that I love, respect and share similar beliefs with,” Wigmore says.

“I can 100 percent focus on my art without compromise and then completely trust the people working with me for their guidance, constructive criticism and approach to it all. It really is an awesome crew to be in.”

Together Butler and Wigmore have been heavily involved with the #BlackLivesMatter protests recently. “It has been a very big and monumental moment in time on all fronts!”

“LA is showing me what it’s made of right now,” she says of her new homebase.

“It’s loud, it’s free and it’s very powerful. The diversity, the perseverance for growth and change, the public outcry demanding justice for all and throughout all of this, there is a true feeling of community amongst the city. This is the precise reason I moved to LA and the reason I will continue to enjoy living here for many years to come.”

Wigmore has always packed more into her life than most.

On top of the hotel and music-making, she’s balancing a two-year-old, a newborn and an incontinent German shepherd rescue dog she added to the family just before the US went into lockdown.

“It made my world shrink overnight,” she says of lockdown.

“It made me realise, almost instantaneously, the seemingly mundane outings were the ones I took for granted the most.

Something as simple as a walk along the beach to see the horizon and the expanse to our lives was taken away; something as easy as popping into the store to grab a loaf of bread was now a fear-inducing exercise of patience, rules and restriction.

“It has been tough mentally more than anything, but it has provided me with a huge amount of gratitude for my two healthy boys, loving husband, awesome dogs and generous friends.”


 

What’s on the Horizon


Matty McLean is the common denominator whether it’s sunny, windy or there’s a spot of rain on its way. We caught up with one of the country’s most beloved presenters about his journey from Christchurch to the big smoke and what he’s got on the horizon, before he headed off to Celebrity Treasure Island.

 

 

What attracted you to the field of journalism and the media?
When I was 10, the local radio station in Queenstown reached out to my primary school, looking for student volunteers to help host a Sunday morning kid’s show. I was a little bit partial to the spotlight, so immediately put my hand up. It was my first taste of the media world and I was hooked. I loved talking to people, hearing their stories and sharing them with others. I decided pretty quickly I wanted to be a journalist.


You grew up in Queenstown before heading to Christchurch to study broadcasting. What do you love the most about our little southern spot?
I absolutely adore everything about the South Island. I was pretty spoiled calling Queenstown home and Christchurch was the perfect next step when I needed to move away for university. It was so picturesque, with amazing spots like Banks Peninsula and Mt Hutt so close, but with a big city feel. I was only there for two years, but Christchurch still holds a really special place for me. I love any chance I get to head back there.


You got your first break on Breakfast as a fresh-faced 20-year-old in 2007. What have been some of your biggest career highlights in the intervening years?
I have honestly been truly blessed – if you saw my baby-faced 20-year-old self, you too would be utterly surprised that anyone had let me appear on national television. But they did and my career has been so incredibly rewarding since then. I’ve travelled overseas to places like Shanghai and LA, interviewed everyone from Prince William to Will.I.Am and been a part of some truly insane television, like the time we performed a wedding live on Breakfast for two of our viewers. I’ve been at TVNZ for 12 years now and I honestly do still pinch myself that I get to do this every day.


You’re in a very high-profile role and publicly acknowledged you were gay during this career. What was that experience like and how far do you think we have come in terms of accepting diversity?
I was actually just starting my career when I decided to come out to those closest to me – although, in fairness, I’m not sure anyone was particularly surprised. After that, I was always pretty open about who I was, but never discussed it publicly, until the marriage equality debates started. It was then I realised I could possibly use my position to help the cause, so I made a submission and ended up speaking in parliament in front of the select committee. It was a really special experience, and rather liberating to do so publicly. The response absolutely blew me away – people were so kind and accepting and when the marriage equality bill passed, I really did feel a major shift in the way this country operated. There’s still a long way to go, of course – homophobia is still alive and well – but we’re getting there. I truly think we’d be a much better place if we were all just kinder and let people live their lives the way they authentically want to do.


When you’re not reading the weather, you’re a marriage celebrant… that’s a bit left field! How did that come about and what do you enjoy about this rather unusual role?
I arrived at that age where my friends started getting engaged, and I really started falling in love with weddings. I just thought it would be a really incredible thing to be part of, especially for people I really cared about. So I went through the process to become a celebrant and have been doing it now for about six years. It honestly is so much fun and I never take it for granted – what a privilege it is to be asked to officiate someone’s big day. I mostly just do it for friends of mine these days and I’ll keep doing it until people stop asking me, probably.


You headed off for your OE in 2016, now you’ve come back and bought a house with your partner (congratulations by the way!). What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
Yeah, it’s been a busy few years. I moved home from the UK, started on Breakfast, met my partner, got a dog, bought a house. So, in all honesty, I’m quite enjoying the fact that I’m able to relax a bit in 2019. But we’re still doing some DIY work on our new home, which is really rewarding. Breakfast is going gangbusters at the moment, so I’m still having an amazing time on the show. And I do have a couple of other really exciting projects in the pipeline – so watch this space! I’m feeling pretty pumped about the next 12 months.

 


 

Environmental Eating


Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss, Avatar, Titanic… There’s a bit of a theme to Oscar-winning Director James Cameron’s movies. “He’s kind of a doomsday kind of guy,” his wife Suzy Amis Cameron laughs.

 

 

“So his films are all about death and destruction and he does not use the word ‘hope’. He has a t shirt that says ‘hope is not a strategy’ and he wears it regularly.” But then one movie changed their lives – Forks Over Knives.

Now the Camerons have ‘hope’ that we can save the world and they’re not afraid to share why – plant-based eating. Soon after the couple watched the environmental film, they were walking on the beach when James turned to Suzy and said ‘for the first time in my life, I have hope’, she recalls.

“Well needless to say, I nearly fell into the surf, but he said, ‘the more we can inspire people to eat plant-based, the more we can move the needle on climate change’ and it was absolutely in that moment I knew that was my calling; I knew that I wanted to write a book, I wanted to create content to inspire people and educate about the detrimental effect of animal agriculture. “We want to be able to have healthy families, a healthy planet and healthy bodies.”

A New Zealand resident sharing her time between here and the US, Suzy headed down our way for ‘Sustainable Protein: Healthy People and Planet’, a panel discussion alongside Governor-General Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy in Tai Tapu last month before she had to “blast back to the United States” for a family emergency.

Hosted by Blinc Innovation, the discussion centred around the evolution of dinner plates across the world, with conscious consumers thinking about the impact their choices are having on the planet and how innovation in food production – particularly plant-based proteins – may just be the key to unlocking sustainability. “Healthy people and planet is a subject that goes deep in my heart,” she says.

Suzy grew up on a farm in Oklahoma with a pet horse Toby and eating eggs and bacon. But with heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and arthritis in both hers and James’ families and James’ health getting to a point where doctors were encouraging heart medications, they were ready for a change.

On 7 May 2012 they watched Forks Over Knives and within 24 hours, they had cleaned out their kitchen. “I felt betrayed that we had been told our whole lives that we need meat for strong bodies and we need milk for strong bones, and this movie basically says it’s completely the opposite of that.

“It was a very pivotal moment in our lives,” she explains. It was a double whammy. Suddenly she learned not only were meat and dairy not integral to a healthy diet, but that their production was also the second leading cause of greenhouse gases and climate change – more than all transportation combined.

In 2005, Suzy had joined forces with her sister Rebecca Amis to found MUSE School in California, the first school in the US to be solar powered, zero waste, with an organic, plant-based lunch programme. Students ate grass-fed beef, free-range chicken, all dairy was completely organic and they were growing much of their own produce. But in the fall of 2013, like the Camerons themselves, MUSE went plant-based. “When we went plant-based it was full on mutiny,” Suzy says. “We lost about 50 percent of our families.”

One day shortly after going plant-based, the head of the school Jeff King got frustrated and said ‘People! You can feed them whatever you want to in the morning and whatever you want to in the evening, it’s one meal a day. It’s OMD!’ That became the title and core theme of Suzy’s book, the idea that simply swapping one meal a day with a plant-based meal can “save your health, save your waistline and save the planet”.

When James and Suzy went plant-based, they did a complete 180 on multiple levels. In fact, they started to look at every investment and every business they ventured into from “a plant-based lens”. They’ve invested heavily in a plant-based protein factory called Verdient Foods Inc. and partnered with the University of Saskatchewan to create food products, which are about to be officially launched.

The couple believe that food innovation is key to feeding a forecasted population of 10 billion people by 2050 and, with one acre able to produce 60,000 pounds of produce and the same acre only able to produce 37.6 pounds of beef, perhaps it is food for thought.

“When you’re thinking about feeding all of these people and taking care of the environment and taking care of your health, vegetables are the silver bullet,” she says. “Eating plant-based, it doesn’t matter if it’s for the animals, health, the environment, your waistline… everybody wins.

“I implore you to try OMD and to change one of your meals a day, because if we don’t do something for the environment, it won’t matter if we have environmental schools, if we have dress design contests, eco clothes, have electric cars, none of that will matter if we don’t have a planet to live on.”


 

Kelly Coe

Kelly Coe’s Colourful crush: Q&A with Kelly Coe

The Augustine and Charlo labels have been injecting colour into Kiwi fashion for more than a decade. With Augustine currently showing at New Zealand Fashion Weekend, Metropol talks to Founder Kelly Coe about how colour makes the world a happier place.

Kelly Coe

How did the Augustine story begin?

Augustine began like all good stories, in our garage. It came from seeing a gap in the market for special occasion wear for everyday NZ women, at attainable price points and grew from there. It was a hope and a dream that we knew NZ fashion needed but didn’t know it yet haha. Nathan and I started it from an idea and slogged it out until NZ women noticed, started to follow along with us and joined the colour revolution.

 

You would be one of the most followed New Zealand fashion labels on social media. Why do you think people have connected so strongly with what you do?

I think because I was the first person to put myself out there personally and really put a face to my brand. I didn’t get a marketing assistant to do all my posts for me or hand it over to a social marketing company, I didn’t heavily stylise my photos, I just showed myself with my kids at the park wearing my product, or Nathan and I out for dinner wearing Augustine. I recognised that my customers are from all over NZ and are just everyday Kiwis and mums and they want to be included and part of something. Country Road, Witchery etc are faceless to them; they don’t belong to that team, but I have always wanted Augustine to be a team/family that you can all be apart of and feel that you can relate to my life. And if they thought I was too dressed up at school pick up then maybe it inspires them to wear their best clothes daily rather than save them for a special occasion. My followers feel like they know me and often stop and tell me that they feel like my friend. I love that – I would love to have 160,000 friends haha.

 

Your collections are filled with colour, something that at face value people might not think would necessarily strike a sartorial chord with New Zealanders. Why did you think this would be such a success?

At first I didn’t know if it would be, I just hoped it would. My first collection was sooo colourful that most of the stockists I showed it to didn’t get it and didn’t buy it. It has taken years to push through the barriers of black and white dressing in NZ, but we are getting there. I see so much more colour now than I did 10 years ago and that makes me very happy. Colour makes the world a happier place.

 

You’re showing at NZ Fashion Weekend (Friday 31 August to Sunday 2 September), what are you looking forward to at this year’s event?

We sold out our show in a day, so I am most excited to put on a cool show for the 700 ladies that snapped up tickets so quickly. I always feel pressure to thank them for supporting me by making sure it’s a feast for the eyes and a fun amazing show. I love that the crowd that turns up to my show are so colourful and polar opposite to who watches the shows during the week of fashion week. It’s like a rainbow hits the waiting area at fashion week right before our show; you know it’s time for Augustine to hit the catwalk by the sea of colour waiting outside. That makes me so very proud and happy of how far we have come with the colour debate.

 

Can you give us the low down on some of your upcoming collections?

We are heading into summer so it’s a rainbow of colour coming which is how I like it. Lots of maxi dresses, sequin skirts, floral prints, and of course a new kimono every week. I love summer. We also have the most amazing colourful wedges coming out in our shoe range that I can’t wait to have in every colour, especially the fluro yellow ones.

Annabel Langbein

The free range cook: one on one with Annabel Langbein

She’s one of the country’s most beloved cooks, with a cooking style that is as down to earth as her personality. Metropol talks to Annabel Langbein as she tours the country lending her talented hand to a range of worthy causes such as Life Education Trust Canterbury.

Annabel Langbein

How did your love of cooking and baking begin?

When I was very little I used to love hanging out with my mother in the kitchen. She was an amazing baker and there were always delicious beaters and bowls to lick! But before long, I was in there helping to stir and roll, mixing cakes and biscuits. I just loved it. I discovered a magical sense of making people happy when I appeared with a batch of fresh-made biscuits or a cake. As a young kid it was wonderful to get that feeling of success and usefulness. I was hooked for life.

Why do you think your recipes and therefore your cook books have struck such a strong chord in New Zealand?

I’m a very busy person but I like to eat well and I love making food that brings people together around the table. When I started cooking, often things didn’t work out, or I would get lost trying to follow a complicated recipe – and whenever this happened I would lose confidence.
I think a large part of my own success as a writer of recipes comes down to practicality – the recipes use everyday ingredients, they don’t take forever for make, they work and most importantly they taste yummy (you’d think that would be a given, but trust me, it isn’t). When I’m cooking for myself I spend a lot of time working out how to streamline the process and make it failsafe, and I figure if it works for me in my busy life then hopefully it will be useful for other people.

Your new book ESSENTIAL Volume Two: Sweet Treats for Every Occasion is all about the sweet side of life. Are you a bit of a sweet tooth yourself and what are some of your favourite recipes?

I actually don’t have a very sweet tooth, but I love to bake and when I make something sweet I want it to be fabulous. Baking and dessert making is an area of cooking where a good recipe is absolutely crucial, as it’s all about chemistry and ratios.
I love making biscuits to have in the tins when people come over or to take to someone as a little gift. My legendary chocolate chippie biscuits have evolved out of my mother’s recipe, and I love that wonderful idea of carrying on the torch. And I love to make cakes, as they deliver such a sense of celebration that makes any occasion a special occasion.
When I’ve got friends coming over for dinner I’ll always make a dessert as it’s such an easy way to make people feel treated. I love desserts that you can make in advance, from my tart tatin with its gorgeous, rich caramelised apples and crisp pillowy crust, to the silkiest chilled spiced orange crème caramels, my vegan frozen caramel cheesecake, my incredible ice-cream cassata with mandarin and pistachios and my rolled pavlova with apricot cream

How does it feel as a beloved New Zealand personality, to be in a position to support and raise awareness of incredibly worthy causes such as the Life Education Trust Canterbury?

That’s a very nice thing of you to say. I do feel very beloved and it’s something very special for me that I never take for granted. I just love it when people come up to me excitedly to tell me what they’ve been cooking, or that I have helped them to feel confidence and success in the kitchen. I love being part of people’s lives like this, it’s an honour. And being in this trusted position does mean that I can help to make change and put my weight behind important initiatives like Life Education Trust Canterbury. The work they do to help kids build a sense of self-esteem and make healthy choices is so important. If the next generation can grow to be strong and healthy and happy then our New Zealand society will be strong and healthy and happy.

What is the most enjoyable or fulfilling aspect of what you do?

I think it’s about helping people to feel empowered. In my own life I have found cooking to be a rich, strong thread that weaves all the bits of my life together and I feel there is so much merit in the idea of building a good life and a strong family around the table. Food and cooking connects us to nature and the environment, to our friends and family, to our own culture and community, and when we cook with a new and unfamiliar ingredient from some foreign shore it connects us to other cultures. Best of all it connects us to our own creativity.

Check out our competition to win a copy of Annabel’s latest book here  Win with Metropol: Annabel Langbein cookbook Essential Volume Two: Sweet Treats for Every Occasion

Mike King

Mike King’s mission: this funny family man has tasked himself with making a serious difference to New Zealand’s youth

Popular New Zealand personality Mike King may have made his name as a comedian, but these day’s you’ll find him delivering a much more serious message. He’s been heading up and down the country – a 4000km journey – on a 50cc scooter for the past five years, addressing youth suicide. We talk to the mental health advocate about his personal mission for this very worthy cause.

Mike King

How big is the youth suicide issue in New Zealand?

How long is a piece of string? The issue of suicide across the board is big and how we’re dealing with it needs addressing. Currently those in crisis have to ring ‘this number’ or see ‘this person’. Everything is aimed at the person in crisis; nothing is aimed at the 65/70 percent of the population who have no problems.
People hold onto problems for so long and they’re only being referred when they’re at critical point. We’re trying to promote the fact that it’s ok to talk about small problems before they become big ones and someone becomes suicidal.

You’ve been making your way around the country on 50cc Suzukis to raise awareness, why is it such an important issue for you to tackle?

In February 2013 I spoke at a small rural school in Northland which had lost five children to suicide. I have discovered through this experience that our young people don’t feel like us old people are listening to them.
So we went around schools listening, listening, listening. We discovered that all kids, regardless of religion or colour, have the same problems and they’re not talking about them; they’re holding onto them until they become overwhelming.
Their inner critics, the little voice second guessing all their decisions, are huge. From there we worked out a strategy – help the inner critic; he’s the cornerstone of 9 out of 10 of the mental health problems. We need to normalise the inner critics by changing society’s attitudes.
Last year we discovered that of those who will have a major mental health problem, 80 percent won’t ask for help. They don’t feel safe. The simplest thing we could do is come up with a signifier of someone safe. We created a simple wristband with ‘I am hope’ on it. This says: I won’t judge, shame, gossip, ask stupid questions, try and fix everything for you; all you’ll get from me is unconditional love and hope, but most importantly, if you want to talk to someone, I am here.

What are some of the key ways New Zealand can start to make some ground in this area?

Parents need to know that all kids are born perfect. The only thing that can screw them up is us. We apply all these rules and only give conditional love – if you do this or that, pass this test, then I’ll love you. We can understand the logic of that, because we’re adults, but kids are thinking there must be something wrong with them if they’re not getting unconditional love.
If there’s five things they do, four are good and one is bad, we focus on the bad, what we think we’re saying is ‘we love you, but you can do better’, but what our kids are getting is ‘no matter what I do I can never be good enough’. How we’re speaking to our children becomes an inner voice.
These become little criticisms that mean nothing in isolation, ‘yes you’re an idiot I asked for a screwdriver you bought be a spoon’. But that’s one hell of an inner critic we’re planting in our kids’ heads.

How does it feel to be in a position where you can play such a positive role in raising awareness of issues such as this?

It’s a privileged position. We have to be very responsible; people are placing a lot of trust on our shoulders. We don’t take or accept government funding; we’re funded by the public of New Zealand. A lot of organisations out there take government money and public money. That’s like having a wife and girlfriend; you have to lie to please both. We only take public donations and apply for grants, so the public will let us know when we’re out of a job; it keeps you honest. It’s a cool position to be in.

Untouched World founder Peri Drysdale

The untouchable Peri Drysdale: our Q&A with the seriously clever and savvy Untouched World founder

A less is more approach isn’t one traditionally taken by a successful fashion label, but then Untouched World founder Peri Drysdale isn’t one to play by the rules. Doing things differently is, after all, what has cemented her place in the upper echelons of entrepreneurial royalty.

Untouched World founder Peri Drysdale
New Zealand Hall of Fame for Women Entrepreneurs inductees, Untouched World founder, Peri Drysdale MBE (left), entrepreneur and prolific director, Mavis Mullins MNZM (centre) and Fashion Week founder, Dame Pieter Stewart (right).

Metropol talks to Peri about her recent achievements and striking a sartorial chord.

How does it feel to have been recognised at such a high level, as one of the 2018 Company of Women Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame Inductees?
It was humbling to be recognised amongst such a group of enormously courageous and successful NZ women. However, I am only the face of our company and our success is the result of incredible input from amazing people I have had working alongside me now and in the past, and with fantastic family input and support.

Can you take us back to the start of Untouched World, what sparked the idea for the business?
As I travelled around the world selling our knitwear I had become extremely concerned about the trajectory the planet was on. I could see environmental degradation going on from visit to visit. Government and business talk the world over was all about GDP and financial bottom line. I worried about what could one person, one company could do. The problem was so big, but I came to the conclusion that we had to do something about it. So, long story short, we decided to create a sustainable lifestyle fashion brand.
I wanted a brand that would model a new way of doing business, that would highlight that style and quality could be achieved without pollution to water and air, filling landfills or treating workers poorly. Back in those days sustainable clothing had a hemp sack reputation, but I wanted to reach people who were in a position of influence to really make a change. So we had to create luxurious, high quality products that would appeal to that market. I also wanted a brand that would give back, put its money where its mouth is and wanted a project to coalesce the stakeholders and get them thinking about what was happening to the planet. So, Untouched World was born – with the bold vision to use fashion as a vehicle to champion what is possible for our planet and its people.

Why do you think the business story of Untouched World struck such a chord and, as a result, has become such an incredible success?
Untouched World is a brand of enormous depth, the kite logo and brand story has an incredible resonance with people all over the world. It is creative, different and has a great energy. People talk about finding Untouched World inspiring. The fact that we built the brand on a sustainable model, though ahead of its time from a commercial point of view, meant that we have been global leaders in this space, so have always had highly engaged followers. Strangely after nearly two decades, Untouched World still feels fresh and ‘new’ to me.

You are one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs, what has been the winning formula for you – hard work, dedication, passion, a great product?
Ha ha! All of the above! I think stickability; an utter belief in what you are doing and being prepared to do things differently are key.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Early on, it was to not go into partnership with someone else. We looked at partnerships a few times. I was given the sound advice that a partner who shared the same motivation and goals during a start-up phase, wouldn’t necessarily share the same vision in years to come, which could ultimately result in more effort going into running the partnership than the business. Early on it is tempting to take partners on as you don’t know what you are doing. Keeping control has meant we have been able to stick to the values that underpin the business, the raison d’etre that gets me up in the morning.

What’s the best part about what you do?
Pretty much everything! I love it all. I love the people – our team, our customers, our suppliers, our foundation team. I love the design and creative process as well as production. I wake up and look forward to another day.

Kendra Jeffery of Stolen Inspiration

From birkenstocks to balenciaga: Q&A with Kendra Jeffery of fashion blog Stolen Inspiration

New Zealand harvests the cream of the crop when it comes to fashion, but it’s also got a down-to-earth vibe that gives style the freedom to roam without rules or conventions. It’s a liberating juxtaposition that plays out oh-so-beautifully on one of NZ’s most recognised and celebrated fashion blogs, Stolen Inspiration, narrated by Kendra Jeffery. Metropol talks to Kendra about her blue-chip blog status and a wild ride.

Kendra Jeffery of Stolen Inspiration

You’ve commanded a significant following with your fashion blog, how do you curate content that appeals to a diverse audience?

I try to make content that I’d like to see and read myself. I think this appeals to a variety of different people because it’s authentic and people appreciate that – especially now that blogging has become so lucrative. Being open and honest with my readers is always my number one policy.

Tell us about the launch of your YouTube channel. How did you decide on this as an additional platform?

Diving into YouTube has been a natural progression from my blog and the content I create for it. I’ve really enjoyed being able to show my readers another side of my life and personality through videos – something I feel static blog posts can lack. It’s also a lot of fun creatively to challenge myself in a different way.

What do you think is original about NZ fashion compared with the rest of the world?

There’s a lot more experimentation rather than sticking to a particular style in NZ. If you want to dress fancy one day but in Birkenstocks and jeans the next, no one would give it a second thought. We get the best of both worlds, because we are loyal to our laid-back nature but aren’t afraid to try new trends and make them our own.

What have been some of your most breathtaking moments on this creative journey?

There have been so many, but most memorable was my trip to NYC. Being recognised for your creativity and flown there to explore it was unreal. Never in a million years would I have thought such an unbelievable opportunity could come from my 15-year-old self making a little internet blog when she was bored.

Lynn Woods

A style maven: Q&A with the irrepressible Lynn Woods

Lynn Woods is a name and a business that Christchurch respects. Synonymous with timeless fashion and informed sartorial advice, Lynn and her eponymous business are an asset to the business landscape. Metropol talks to the style maven about what makes her tick.

Lynn Woods

After having been in fashion for so long, what still inspires you?

I started my career selling Auckland label Trish Gregory from a studio attached to my home. My mother inspired my love of fashion and my father educated me about business. While a lot has changed in fashion since then, what inspires me has remained the same – beautiful fabrics, great New Zealand design and of course our customers.

Lynn Woods is an iconic brand, how have you evolved the business, so it moves with the ever-changing times?

The business is continually evolving with social media, digital marketing and online shopping. Last year the online laybuy service for our customers launched – this enables them the ease and convenience of taking garments straight away and they can pay them off in monthly installments, a great service that is becoming increasingly popular.

Who is your style icon?

Iris Apfel. Iris is an American businesswoman, interior design and fashion icon. At 96 years old, Iris Apfel has a captive audience all over the world who celebrate and adore her memorable and quirky style.

What advice would you offer around personal style?

‘Wear everything with confidence’ is my style philosophy. Most importantly, remember tailoring, the measurement. Proportions make all the difference.