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Trelise Cooper

Trelise Cooper

For this special project we wanted to share a Trelise Cooper print that’s a little bit fun, a little bit humorous and modern. Something that would appeal to grandmothers, appeal to young people, and appeal to little children. Rock A Bye Bunny’s face appears on the onesie, while his tail appears as polka-dots across the beanie.

Meet the Designer Part 1: Trelise Cooper

Meet the Designer Part 2: Trelise Cooper

On starting out as a designer…

In my twenties, I started out as a complete novice with no training and no idea. I hadn't been in fashion before. It was a steep learning curve. I opened up a store in a high profile area of fashion, which was High Street [in Auckland]. Back in the '80s, High Street was it and I was really determined I wasn't going to fail. I refer to it as the university of Trelise because I didn't go to university, but I sure put myself through massive learning. It really was not easy. But one thing I love about being a New Zealander is that we are a ‘can do’ society; anybody can have a go, anybody can have a crack at it.

On following your dreams…

In the beginning I felt like I was living my dream, only it felt so challenging and so difficult. Every day was a challenging day. I was like, "It's not how a dream’s meant to be". I thought a dream should be all beautiful and wonderful and everything should flow. But, [now] I think living your dream comes with a lot of hard knocks and challenges and ways in which you can grow.

On changes in the industry…

How we started in the '80s through to how we operate now is entirely different. When we started our online store, I didn’t really want it and didn’t think our customers would want it. I thought, "How can they see a flat screen and know that they're going to look good in that? How does that work? Don’t people want to touch and feel?". But actually, our online store has now become our biggest flagship store. Instagram and Facebook are really important as is E-commerce, social media and being online.

On changes for Trelise Cooper as a business…

We used to produce two seasons every year: winter and summer. Now, we have got 16 collections a year, four brands. Every season something new comes at us as a way in which we need to grow and change as a business.

On considerations as a designer…

It’s exciting to have the challenge of coming up with something new, interesting, different and attractive. In New Zealand, if I'm presenting a particular colour this season there's no way I will present it again next season. Here, we are early adopters. We go, "Right, that's the look now. Next season, I want something different."

On the topic of juggling a business and motherhood…

Being a working mum, I always found a conflict. I really wanted to be with my very precious child who was the very best thing that has ever happened to my life. But, I also had a deep need to work and to be creative. I started back in this business when Jasper was about nine years old. He would come traveling with me and we had a great time. I wanted him to be a global citizen. What I know is that when you're a working mum, you end up with a very independent child. But I do think you need to be careful what you wish for because an independent child then goes off and becomes independent. As [Jasper] did, and he now lives overseas.  

On giving back to your community…

I really believe that when you get to have a business that's successful, and are part of a community, then it's the law of nature that you give back. I also think when you give, you receive, you actually receive more than you give.  

On the topic of sustainability …

The planet is in crisis and we have to know better. When we know better, we do better. And we all are on a journey, an individual journey, and a collective journey as far as an industry goes. But, it starts with the individual.

At work, we try to minimise waste in whatever way we can. Our garment bags are biodegradable and compostable. We always have recycled, re-used, or donated our scraps of fabric. We've given our fabric to schools, and we've given it to kindergartens. We also support Trees That Count. We have bought a big portion of trees, and we have our fashion forest. We also invite our customers to offset their carbon footprint by adopting a tree. You can actually trace that tree from the time that it’s a seedling, right through life.

On inspiration for the Great Full print…

We wanted something that was a little bit fun, a little bit humorous and modern. Something that would appeal to grandmothers, appeal to young people, and appeal to little children – the focus of this project.