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EXHIBITOR PROFILE | OXTED

For this Wellington, family-run business, design is everything.
We talk with Christopher from Oxted.
SH+O: What is the quick pitch that defines your business?

OXTED: We are a family business (started by my mother Mary and my sister Lucia which has recently brought myself and my wife Tamara into the fold) specialising in high end greeting cards and partyware with a smattering of lovely imported gifts, kitchenware and soaps. We have gone from a company with an emphasis on traditional product to a far more design led, contemporary product ethic. We like products with a story, made by people who love doing what they do.
SH+O: Where do you find inspiration?

OXTED: Everywhere. Fashion, architecture and contemporary design philosophy. Tamara and I come from a background in luxury fashion and music in London (for 17 years) so our scope of influence is quite wide!
SH+O: What was your biggest challenge when starting your business and how did you overcome it?

OXTED: Well, back in the '80s it was a very different game all together. It was Hallmark a go go and the options offered to the public were limited to say the least (which of course was the catalyst for starting Oxted in the first place). The products available in NZ were very bland and generic. The biggest challenge was learning how to manage the logistics of a company that was growing very fast- the response to our ranges from our customers was amazing and subsequently my mother and sister had a very steep learning curve! I have a lot of respect for them both for building what they've built from scratch, and for providing such stable longterm livelihoods for the people who work at Oxted. That's what it's all about after all.


SH+O: What was your best business moment?

OXTED: We think the best moment for the business is beginning right now. We're going through a period of strong growth and we've never had such beautiful and covetable suppliers: Meri Meri, Moglea and Lagom are some of the very best at what they do in the world, period. Also there's more family involved, and contrary to what people say, it's a lovely thing being able to work with siblings and my wife although it can be hard to switch off sometimes...

SH+O: Where do you see the future of retail heading?

OXTED: We think if bricks and mortar retailers are to prosper in the digital age they have to provide something which is experience led. This can be easier for savvy independents, as they can create a sense of community (local events and familiarity) and personal service that brands find hard to match. Brands are more and more going down that immersive route: in store cafes and bars, parallel services (such as the hairdressers at Barkers) and just making the buy in more comprehensive… These are really exciting times and some of our customers are absolutely rocking it in this new environment- we're so inspired by these people.