Globe-trotting Corporate Swaps Barbie for Winter Woollies
A former high-flying corporate executive from the US has chosen the laid back kiwi lifestyle over the American dream.
A world away from her globe-trotting former lifestyle with internationally renowned children’s toy brand Mattel, Barbara Anderson is the designer, manufacturer and marketer of a unique merino clothing range called tika.
And from working as Director of Regional Planning and New Business Development for Mattel, with its $5 billion in annual sales and offices in 42 countries, she and Kiwi husband Matthew are now living and working in Alexandra, in the heart of Central Otago.
Barbara met Matthew in Santa Monica in 1998, and after a number of visits to New Zealand, including Mathew’s home town of Alexandra, the couple settled in the town in 2006.
Concerned about the Californian girl surviving Central Otago’s freezing southern winters, Matthew brought her out to visit at the height of winter in 1995, which she ‘survived’ with the help of merino clothing.
Her admiration for the unique New Zealand product led to the germ of an idea about starting up a merino clothing business.
“I gained a profound respect for merino wool which kept me comfortable and warm during those visits. I fell in love with the fabric and we both believed there was a gap in the market for merino clothing, both in New Zealand and the United States,” said Barbara.
For the first three years the couple concentrated on developing their tika clothing line, managing all aspects of a small business from start up with a focus on successfully creating an e-commerce website, www.tikamerino.com, targeting clients in the States and around New Zealand.
Putting Barbara’s exceptional business skills to good use, they applied for and received New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Grant Funding for their first two years in business.
They invested time and money sourcing the best merino manufacturer in the world, certified by industry body Zque as superfine merino made in New Zealand from fibre grown exclusively on South Island merino stations.
Independent Zque audits certify the merino is grown in free-range conditions where growers have the necessary stockmanship and farm management systems in place to ensure happy, healthy sheep.
“We put together a range where the emphasis is very much on it being ‘grown and made in New Zealand’, and unlike other more sport-orientated products the tika line is timeless, classic clothing that can be dressed up or down, mixed, matched and layered,” said Barbara.
“The line is made of pieces in various lengths, making them perfect for layering. tika pieces are a real investment, because they last for years without losing their colour or shape. Our classic styles are the building blocks of a great wardrobe and they’re trans-seasonal, designed to look as good in LA as they would in London or Alexandra.”
Barbara and Matthew opened their first tika store in Alexandra in May 2009, and the business supplies outlets in NZ and the US and a distributor in Korea.
“Our focus for 2010 is growing tika here in the New Zealand market before venturing further afield,” said Barbara.