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Source: University of Waikato

Stacey McIntosh is the brains behind one of New Zealand’s latest fashion successes, and if you’re a bit clothes-obsessed, it’s likely you’ve heard of it.

Harrie and Sam is an online made to order clothing store where customers purchase items from their website during a pre-sale period, and the clothes are then made to size and shipped to the customer’s door within two weeks.

What started as a side hustle in 2018, Harrie and Sam (named after the co-founders’ pet dogs) is now a fully-fledged business – successful enough that Stacey was able to quit her day job as an account manager in 2019 to focus on further growing the venture.

As a sole-operator, Stacey’s days are a juggle. “Having a small business you tend to wear most of the hats every day,” she says. “For a business like mine I’m doing the small and large tasks simultaneously – from keeping an eye on social media and interacting with customers, through to managing supplier relationships and stock forecasting for new season releases.”

Stacey says the genesis of Harrie and Sam was a desire to create sustainable, but affordable, basics that women could wear over and over.

“In the beginning of H&S a friend and I played with ideas we liked and worked it out as we went along. We felt there was a place in the clothing market for well-made, affordable basics, so we started the range with styles we felt comfortable wearing ourselves, and after they started selling, we saw the pieces were resonating with others.

“From selling a moderate amount in the first run, we now sell out of our allocated stock nearly every pre-sale, and I absolutely love the feedback I get from customers each time – seeing people wearing Harrie and Sam is such a thrill for me.”

Stacey studied a BMS, majoring in PR and marketing at the University of Waikato, and says there were several aspects of her study that set her up for the business world – the fundamental knowledge she gained through the BMS, core marketing understanding, and the love-it-or-hate-it cornerstone of any qualification: group work.

“I believe the BMS set me up for job opportunities and gave me a great foundation for the way I work. The fundamental papers like accounting, economics, and strategy set me up for practical decision-making and skills that I’ve continued to develop as time has gone on.

“And I really enjoyed the group work. I liked seeing how other students think and I still apply that mind set to my business now, I think it’s really important to learn from the people around you and acknowledge other people’s strengths and experiences – it all helps you, and your business, grow.”

Stacey also says her time at university didn’t just teach her book smarts, but exposed her to the “real” side of working life and owning a business.

“The range of topics available and the exposure you get to different people and ways of thinking and doing things is invaluable.

“And you’re better prepared for the challenges too. The more I’ve moved through my business journey I realise you can never know it all, and that’s why you need to be open to learning. Most people are really generous with their knowledge and willing to help you if you ask – education from other people’s experience is priceless.”

Stacey’s advice to anyone wanting to start their own business is simple. Be open. “Be open to suggestions, encouragement, and constructive criticism – they can all be the catalyst for great ideas.”

MIL OSI