This month Apparel chatted with Madeleine Harman and Jess Grubiša, the creators of New Zealand womenswear label Harman Grubiša, to hear about how they got their start in the industry. The duo grew up in Auckland and met while studying at Whitecliffe College of Arts and Design.

Grubiša’s family has always been in fashion. She grew up in the WORLD workroom and her grandmother’s sewing factory. Although Grubiša always knew that she wanted to end up in fashion, Harman’s pathway wasn’t quite so straightforward and she took a few turns before ending up at the final destination.

“When I left school I started at ELAM doing Fine Arts, changed my mind and moved into social work a year in, changed my mind and transferred to Whitecliffe as my last stop on the tertiary bus. I knew at this point fashion was what I wanted to do, but it was a long process to get to there,” said Harman.

“It wasn’t until I met Madeleine that I knew that having a label could be a reality,” said Grubiša.

Harman said that although not necessary for everyone, in her case a formal education has led her to where she is today.

“I certainly wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t pursued it. I think that technical understanding of how garments are made is extremely important. I also think that knowledge of selling, marketing and developing a brand are all necessary; how you gain that knowledge,” Grubiša said.

The job entails everything from managing online retailing to production, design, marketing and cleaning the store. Although every day is different and there is no typical work day, Grubiša manages the majority of the garment production, including timelines, logistics, knowledge of garment construction, maintaining good relationships, and managing budgets and costings.

“The majority of this has been gained through experience prior to having our own label and I would suggest to everyone considering working in fashion to work in the field for a minimum of two years,” said Grubiša.

She said the job has taught her the importance of quality.

“We’re learning every day. I think the main thing it teaches me is that I go into almost every day having to tackle some part of my role that lies well out of my comfort zone, I don’t know that this will ever change and I think it keeps things interesting,” said Harman.

Both 26 years old, at such a young age they attribute their success to hard work and taking risks.

“I feel as though success has to be earnt, you have to work hard, but also have to take big risks. This year for our brand we have taken some huge risks and pushed the boundaries on what we are capable of personally; we’ve given Harman Grubiša all our energy, time, as well as pushed the boundaries with our design. Particularly in our latest season Dakota shown at NZFW,” said Harman.

Looking ahead, the pair’s future goals include taking Harman Grubiša international.