Daniel Amosa had always known that he wanted to start his own business – but it wasn’t until he was living in Hong Kong in 2008 that the entrepreneur finally decided that creating a unique and successful fashion label was where his future lay. Originally from Pleasant Point, the New Zealand-born Samoan had married Amie and was in the role of TESOL Teacher at the time when he had an epiphany: luxurious yet comfortable and affordable resortwear that combined his Polynesian roots and Kiwi upbringing in contemporary beach attire.
“I realised that many countries had clothing that was designed specifically for their countries unique climates and cultures - traditional kaftans of the Middle East, sarongs of Asia, surf stylings of Australia and lava lavas of the Pacific Islands,” he says. “And while the Kiwi summer uniform usually includes a t-shirt, shorts and jandals – I wanted to offer something new, different, multicultural and with a modern twist.” Branding this style as ‘modernesia’, Amosa set out to blend culture and fashion by creating label Zeema and launching by selling a range of tunic length kaftans and sarongs for sale online and through selected nationwide stockists. “It was just the perfect fit for us for the stage of life we are at,” he says. “Of course completely naïve to the hard work a start up business really is but we are getting there!”
“We aimed to create garments of effortless glamour, that you could wear on the beach, then pull on some linen pants, pop on a necklace and wear to the BBQ,” he says. “I wanted Zeema to offer cross-cultural styles that signifies relaxation, comfort, an appreciation of nature and your country and caters to the personal preference of the wearer,” he said. Designs included embroidered korus, tapa cloth cutouts and animal or bubble prints, all using high quality Indian cotton. Next, the pair focussed on bringing up the international feel of the label by redoing photography, overhauling their website and taking on a PR company. “We were very green on the whole promotional aspect of fashion, and was grateful for the affordable assistance given to us by our PR representative,” he says. “There is no way you can learn everything about an industry straight away, and it really felt great to be with straight-talking experts and introduced to other labels who were at a similar stages as us.”
“The biggest problem we encountered initially was that most people think they can only wear resort garments during the summer months,” says Amosa. “But our products have trans-seasonal appeal, and are ideal for traveling or holidaying during the winter months,” he says. “Our tunics are versatile too, and can be layered with other garments underneath or over the top for wearing year round.” From sizzling red to cool blue, basic black or neutral white, Zeema always select from a colour palette that offers something suitable for a variety of skin tones, personal preferences and styles; and embellishments are subtle and glamorous.
“For Summer 2011/12, we are expanding into pants and maxi dresses,” says Amosa. “But we are taking it slowly – it is more important to us that we build brand recognition and establish a decent customer base first, so we can grow the product portfolio with those foundations,” he says. “We want people to recognise Zeema everywhere… and be proud of its distinctive nature.”
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