The Okewa rainwear collection has passed one test, reaching a first stage target of $24,000 on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, but is designed to meet an even tougher challenge: protecting wearers out in Wellington's wild weather.
The husband and wife duo behind the range, Nick and Nevada Leckie, built the business after seven years of living in the capital without a car and needing clothes that withstand the city's conditions. That situation even spurred Nevada to start the business earlier than some entrepreneurs might.
"It's good to work for somebody else and get that experience but I've been frustrated for so long at not being able to find a raincoat I really like and that's good enough for a heavy downpour," she says. "I've been looking for a good coat for seven years."
Nevada worked for the Kiwi label twoWorlds after completing a fashion design and technology diploma in Wellington in 2009, while Nick works on Okewa outside his day job in architecture. They formed Okewa last year and are using Kickstarter to fund production of the first line of five coats, which will be made to fulfil orders received from pledgers.
The dual layer fabrics were imported via an Auckland supplier from Japan and Korea and the garments will be made in Auckland.
Nevada chose the Okewa name, a Maori word for long grey raincloud.
"I stumbled across it and thought it was a really beautiful word. It seemed to sum up everything I wanted the label to be."
At the time of writing the duo had raised $25,210 from 74 backers. It expects production to take five weeks from early to mid September.
The pair plans to find stockists for the range after the Kickstarter campaign and say their crowdfunding experience shows there's an international audience for their clothing. "We're surprised at how many people backing it aren't from New Zealand," Nevada says.
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