The Story so far

I feel like I've been designing since as long as I can remember but fashion specific from my late teens. Rock Chick, Hippie, Hoochie, Punk if that's a genre then that was my vibe then and still is. I love menswear, loosely tailored clothing and fitted like really tight fitted clothing. My favourite look was a size too big tailored men's pant, from a secondhand store (preferably a check or stripe) and a tight, size too small V neck jumper or grandpa vest. If I had to choose a signature look this would be it!

While on my OE in London I noticed a lump on my neck behind my ear and the doctors thought it was just my glands. On a trip back to NZ I decided to get it checked out again. The doctors here thought it was much more serious and within two weeks it was tested and removed. The type of cancer I had was common in older men but very rare in woman and young people. So unusual they thought I might be in the 1 percentile of incorrect tests. Once the tumor was removed, more tests confirmed it was cancer and it had started to spread. I was back in surgery and had the surrounding tissue, skin and and some muscle removed and a face lift on my right side. As part of my treatment I was given the maximum amount of radiotherapy they thought was safe and it was strongly suggested that I try as much as possible to reduce my exposure to radiation over my life time. 

Treatment and recovery was tiring and long and my then boyfriend took care of me and all our bills while I recovered. I totally married him! During recovery I started my research into wellness, I could write pages and pages about this and all my home recipe successes, failures and trials! Thankfully today information is easily available, companies more transparent and there are lots of good gentle products that are accessible and affordable. I had three children in my mid twenties and ended up having lots of surgeries in the following years, mainly for endometriosis and bowel issues. While it was easier to get natural home and beauty products I still struggled to find clothing in breathable fabrics that was gentle and kind on the skin and scars and comfortable for my constantly changing waist but didn't make me feel like I was wearing a shapeless sack. I'm only 160cm and I can easily look like a potato without much effort. So I started designing clothing again that was tailored but relaxed so I could move and work but still feel like a cool sexy rock chick! because that's always important.

I had returned to hairdressing, but the work environment is very toxic, so I opened an organic hair salon which was challenging (a whole other story) but great and I was still designing and making for myself. The designing and making made me so happy I decided to go back to Uni and finish my Design degree. I had attempted to finish it when my children were very young and totally underestimated how time consuming it was! now they were older It was slightly better but the degree was now an honours degree, which meant an extra year. Uni was hard, but great and I don't remember much of life outside of uni in those years. Going back as an older student was scary but the students were awesome and seemed so much more on to it than I was at that age! I learnt loads from them and grateful to graduate with a first class honours, get to meet some cool people and have so many amazing opportunities. (Miromoda NZFW, Trip to China)

The fashion industry in NZ is very small compared to overseas. My goal was to eventual have my own label so I took the plunge and just started. A six week trip around China to visit manufacturers, Artisans, local makers and suppliers reaffirmed my commitment to manufacture my garments here in Aotearoa and use local suppliers where I can and help support the industry as much as possible. So I left a career that I knew and started my own fashion label! Initially it was overwhelming and I felt like I was spluttering along compared to others but as I learned more about the industry, made mistakes, grew my confidence, met more people and started to make a few sales I took a deep breath and realised not to compare my progress or perceived lack of it to others as all our stories are different but all can be told and share space together.

I love what I do, the challenges, late night’s, problem solving! and it is still very important to me that I am creating a healthy space to work in and making garments that are gentle on the body and the environment. Being diagnosed with cancer in my early 20’s was devastating but It changed my life, made me re-examine my environment and embrace a more natural holistic approach to life and still influences my decisions today. The only thing I would change is I'd go back and ask the surgeon to give me face lift on both sides! the side with the lift definitely looking better. 

Love and Peace always

Pania xo 

 

 

My friend Kaj and me in our Opshop finds.
We are both on the edges both in stripes.


  
 
Partying in Spain. I still have this dress.



My sister Cece looking after me during treatment.

  

Great Wall of China wearing all my clothes at once.

 


Over the years I have come up with creative ways to hide my scars either from the sun or just when I don't feel like stares or questions. Hats, scarves and turtlenecks are favourites.

 


My first studio space. Neil would come keep my company at night so I didn't get scared and lonely.

 


Bowie pant and zero waste knitted top NZFW 



Selfie in my studio.

3 comments

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  • Love this and the photos! Looking beautiful as always ♥️ Keep up the inspiring work, what a long way you have come…keen to see more x

    Amelia Greenaway

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