Christina Grant, alongside her husband Callum Grant, owns a luxury merino wool garment brand based in Central Otago.
What inspired you to create Perriam, a luxury NZ made merino brand, and how has your background influenced its unique identity?
I was fortunate enough to grow up on Bendigo Station in Central Otago, a merino sheep property. My parents were both entrepreneurial by nature and I watched as they ran and grew our farming operation, alongside establishing The Merino Shop in Tarras, which showcased and sold merino wool products to passing tourists.
During my teenage years, my father and a handful of other merino growers decided to break away from the Wool Board and start the NZ Merino Company with the aim to get better prices for their merino wool. It was an amazing time and experience to see how they marketed Merino wool to the world, and they were fortunate enough to meet some amazing people along the way. My parents were also in partnership in another Merino property Otempatapia (near Omarama) with a group of Italians, who own a worsted Merino cloth mill in Biella, Italy as well as an Australian family who were wool buyers. This diverse upbringing exposed me to many industries and people and helped me go on to create Perriam.
Tarras, Central Otago, is known for its breathtaking landscapes. How does this location serve as a muse for your designs, and in what ways does it contribute to the essence of Perriam as a brand?
There is something magical about Central Otago. The muted burnt tones contrasting with the cool blue lakes all serve as inspiration for the Perriam brand. Our colour palettes are inspired by the land and the high country in which we live. The snow-capped mountains with their rugged caps all provide design inspiration and you will see a lot of naturals and cables in our collections, which are really a homage to our homeland.
Sustainability and ethical practices are becoming increasingly important in the fashion industry. How does Perriam embrace these principles, and what steps have you taken to ensure your brand leaves a positive impact on the environment and local communities?
There is nothing more sustainable than wool. It’s a natural fibre that has so many wonderful benefits. Our collections are made predominantly into knitwear so there is little waste. When other fibres are called for in our collections we only work with natural materials such as linen and organic cotton.
We also make almost all of our clothing in New Zealand meaning that the local industry is supported and we know that our workers and artisans are treated fairly. Our processes are very transparent and we are very proud of this. We have recently started a project where we use all of our offcuts to create wraps and hats for babies, and donate these to the Nest Collective. This is a charity that creates packs for families in need and are gifted through social workers. We love that we know these items are going directly to people who need it. Not only are we keeping babies warm we are making sure there is no waste.
Merino wool is a remarkable material with numerous benefits. Can you share some insights into why you chose to work specifically with merino and the advantages it offers over other fabrics in the luxury fashion market?
There are so many amazing benefits to using Merino. It is grown naturally on merino sheep that roam the high country munching on fresh grass and alpine water. We love that it is a renewable source with the sheep being shorn each year and then their fleece grows back, how cool is that? It is naturally biodegradable and is a healthy choice as it’s breathable and temperature-regulating, thus keeping you warm. It’s also a great fibre to work with. It’s soft, elastic and malleable and makes it easy to sew up and create clothing.
Perriam has garnered a loyal following of discerning customers who appreciate craftsmanship and quality. Could you share some of your proudest moments or accomplishments as a brand that reflect your commitment to excellence?
I am always humbled by every sale we make as we know that our customers appreciate beautiful quality and are willing to spend a little more on investment pieces. We love it when they really understand the benefits of Merino and appreciate its qualities. For me, it is the customers that bring me the most joy. Their lovely comments and their commitment to buying NZ-made blows me away each time. I am really proud of our team who have an unwavering dedication to building the brand. I am proud of what Perriam has become today and am excited about the future and then the next phase for the Perriam brand.
As a successful entrepreneur and creative force behind Perriam, what advice do you have for aspiring designers and business owners who want to create their own luxury brand while staying true to their values and vision?
Business can be tough and it can be lonely. If I were to start again I would join some business groups where you interact with like-minded people. I am surrounded by some amazing people who help me grow our brand and this sort of support is invaluable. I would listen to my intuition more and trust my decisions. I would also get more of a work-life balance. Running your own business can be all-consuming. Don’t compare yourself to others and collaborate with as many other businesses as you can. We are all unique and there is more than enough room for all of us. Stay true to your vision and remember consistency is the key to building a great memorable brand.
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