Support Local: An occasional post-covid column featuring the faces behind local businesses in our community

Artisan & Merchant: For this week’s column we spoke to owner of Artisan & Merchant, Gretchen Hamilton.

What initial impact did Covid have on you ?

For me personally, as I imagine it was for everyone, it was a strange and uncertain time. When something so unprecedented happens and the media goes crazy with all the doom and gloom, it’s hard to not be concerned about what the outcome will be both for our day to day lives and our businesses (But also secretly, I was a little excited about some enforced down time)

What did you learn from the experience about your business?

Well I certainly had plenty of time to reflect on my business and make plans for the worst case scenario during lockdown! However, I was really fortunate that I had an already established online store…and I got approved to sell winter essential clothing after the first week of lockdown. So online sales went crazy…I guess people were at home with time to kill and wanted to treat themselves. The fact that I have all my clothing range made locally in the Waikato has always been a huge selling point for my label and with COVID that definitely became more pronounced.

Did you change anything in response ?

In the first weeks of lockdown I definitely sat down and wrote up buying plans for the next couple of years, a few different variations depending on how business goes post COVID. But mostly I’ve always made decisions for my business based on my instinct, so even though I have plans on paper, knowing me I’ll probably ignore them all and just roll with it and see how things unfold and make decisions accordingly.

What are the future plans for the business?

For the moment, with such uncertain times, it’s about being super cautious and careful to make sure I keep my business going. I have targets and goals set out that I am working towards and things are looking good so far, but I’m aware that things may well take a huge downturn any moment with the recession they are predicting. I’m wholesaling my label to other stores now and my focus at the moment is to concentrate on growing that side of the business. But you never know what is coming, so I am constantly thinking of new ideas and concepts to keep things evolving. Time will tell.

Artisan & Merchant 1B Wainui Road Raglan Waikato 3225 Tel 07 825 8250 Mob 0204 018 2783

This column is made possible thanks to sponsorship from

Raglan Four Square