For the past 17 years, fashion designer Andrea Moore hasn’t stopped working. She might be one of New Zealand’s top designers, but behind the label is just another Auckland mother juggling a busy lifestyle.
“I was working the day I gave birth to both kids, then I was back at work two weeks after the births with a baby under the table,” she recalls. As the Dunedin-born designer puts it, she doesn’t just have two children, but nine. “Each store is like a baby,” she explains as she counts up the seven shops she’s opened across the country.
It all started in 1999 with her first boutique in Wellington. Every year, there have been ups and downs in the business, and she’s managed it all while being a mother to Archie, 12, and Annie, seven.
So what’s her secret to keeping it all under control? “The key to being a successful businesswoman is having a partner who’s involved in the household,” tells Andrea.
Her man Brian is not just her life partner but also her business partner and has had a hand in the company since they moved to Auckland six years ago. They’ve got their daily routine down to a tee, with Brian on breakfast duty and Andrea in charge of dinner.
“We’ve got a system that works really well in maintaining a healthy, happy household,” she smiles. “We’ve had nannies and au pairs, but now Brian has the kids after school. He takes them to the gym and after-school activities while I walk home and make dinner for when they get back.”
Visiting Andrea and Brian’s Herne Bay home, the Woman’s Day team is greeted by an immaculate, freshly mown lawn. While their villa is pristine on the outside, behind the front door lies a trail of toys, soccer balls and sports gear.
In the kitchen, we have to step over a rogue herd of My Little Ponies and a shoal of mermaids. Pointing at the carefully arranged circle of toys, Brian explains, “The mermaids are new, so they’re being interviewed by the ponies.”
There’s hardly a quiet moment in Andrea’s life, but her busy schedule is what allows her to connect with the women buying her clothes. “I’m an extension of my customer,” she explains.
“We see them as everyday superheroes. They’re juggling, and busy doing their best to keep family life and work life well balanced.”
Together, Brian and Andrea have kept their business alive through the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes. But the pair confess the biggest challenge has been trying to conquer our country’s small fashion market. “In a large market, like you get overseas, you can open a store just selling scarves,” says Brian, “but in New Zealand, you wouldn’t survive five minutes.”
Yet while other Kiwi clothing brands have fallen, Andrea Moore continues to grow. Last year, the pair celebrated their more affordable spin-off brand I Am launching into Farmers stores across the country.
“It’s really exciting!” Andrea tells. “I Am has been incubating for about two years. Finding a big partner like Farmers has been really exciting for us as a business. It’s also very satisfying personally to be able to reach a broader market in such an iconic store.”
Brian adds, “That’s a dream run there for a business.” When asked about her career highlight, Andrea laughs, “It’s kind of blurred, really.
There’s been quite a few!” But seeing her clothes stocked at a nationwide department store is definitely high on the list. Her next project involves something with a little more sparkle. Debuting at NZ Fashion Week last year were the first pieces of Andrea’s joint venture with iconic crystal company Swarovski.
She’s the first Kiwi designer to ever partner with the jewellery giants, whose past international fashion collaborations include Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. “The Swarovski partnership has been a huge highlight,” explains Andrea, revealing more is still to come.
Brian proudly boasts that their children have inherited their parents’ business sense. A recent trip to an outlet mall saw Annie and Archie critiquing rather than shopping as they spent the day discussing why some stores were empty and what they were doing wrong.
Glancing at the sports gear littering her home, Andrea jokes that her children could have a future making soccer boots. But for now, she remains the resident designer.
While every day involves hard work, she is adamant she wouldn’t have it any other way. Andrea concludes, “For me, there’s nothing as fun, interesting, challenging or rewarding as this business.”