Where did it all begin?
It was Winter 2017 and I was traipsing around a mall in Hamilton, New Zealand, trying to find a bright, happy, colourful coat which would bring some chirpiness into the somewhat grey foggy Waikato weather.
I couldn't find anything like this anywhere - so I decided to make my own!
I couldn’t believe that in New Zealand, the country known for sheep and wool, wasn’t selling 100% woollen coats at an “everyday” price. And further than this, that most woollen fabric sourced in New Zealand is actually often sent offshore to be spun and woven and then “bought back” into our country.
The Williamson family farm in Waitetuna, near Raglan with it's distinctive cone shaped hill featured in our photos; ran sheep and among other products sold wool for 40 years. And my own parents Don and Robyn Williamson have been farming sheep and beef South of the Kawhia Harbour for over 30 years. I still treasure the time I get to spend on the farm with our family and credit my entrepreneurial spirit to growing up in a rural community.
The rural way of life is inextricably linked into the Velma & Beverley story - from the people themselves to the idea of creating long term, sustainable, high quality products. Growing up in a small area creates a strong sense of community and support for each other.
Our Velma & Beverley community will be a group of like-minded women who love quality, longevity, colour, sustainability, and being themselves.
Velma & Beverley
In 2018, enter Velma & Beverley - named for two special women; my grandmothers Velma Aldridge and Beverley Williamson, both of whom fostered a love of sewing, rural living, fabrics and colour, and instilled in me a love of creating beautiful things for their homes, friends and family.
Our Velma & Beverley logo is a testament to their special colours, purple for Velma and blue for Beverley, and the flowers are for their stunning flower gardens which I played in as a child.
They are both now passed away, but I love the idea of their memory living on in each and every garment we create at Velma & Beverley, with high quality fabrics, a sustainable, New Zealand based supply chain, and in incredible long lasting product which you’ll enjoy for many years to come.
We have also woven the names of our first 2019 coats into Velma's daughters; Beryl, Irene, Dulcie, and Robyn, my own mother.
Making a statement with colour
Streets are ruled by unity, dull silhouettes and classic colours, and in New Zealand - black! Coats appeal much more to function rather than making a bold statement. We find that a pity as they don’t do much justice to the amazing women wearing them... what if we could do it differently?
Combining a love of the natural properties of wool with bold but timeless colours, practical styles and colourful cotton linings was the answer to create statement pieces that combine luxury with a hint of unexpected, reflecting the vibrant personality of the woman wearing them.
I’ve always loved colour. But I wasn’t always confident enough to wear it. As I’ve grown older I’ve cared less what goes with what, and more about feeling happy, content, and beautiful in what I’m wearing.
It’s an approach I’d love to share with everyone - all women deserve to look and feel beautiful in the clothes they wear - while being confident that they’re buying something sustainable, beautiful, kind to the environment from a company who cares about the people who have made each item with love.
From the shearing to wearing - the wool story
Wool is a protein which grows in the skin of sheep, and lives and breathes like the animal that grows it. Wool is biodegradable, unlike man made fibres. It does not use excessive quantities of water and pesticides like cotton, is a local resource and is sustainable.
It's natural, renewable, an insulator, breathable, resilient, and stain and odor resistant. Although we recommend you dry clean your coat once per season (if needed), if you spill something (we've all had the coffee go everywhere moment!) you can often easily remove this with some warm water. It won't smell after being worn constantly all winter, and complements our favourite other winter staples like merino dresses and the more casual jeans and jumper look.
We are proud to be able to say our outer fabric is 100% New Zealand wool, grown in NZ, spun in NZ by Woolyarns in Lower Hutt and woven at Inter-weave in Auckland. Unlike many fabrics used here in New Zealand, it's right on our doorstep, is a massive part of our history and economy and has a natural, classic beauty which takes colour well and is incredible to wear.
Of course, the amazing properties of wool (and in particular, our pure New Zealand wool fabric), means that it lasts for a long time and therefore it's value is slightly higher at purchase because quality takes longer and is slightly more costly to produce.
Please support us, our supply chain and ultimately our farmers and New Zealand businesses to continue to thrive - and understand that wool means quality, a raft of amazing properties, and sustainability.