Dear Shoe Lovers,
Many of you will know Nicole’s story but for those of you that don’t, here is a quick recap. Nicole started out her career in law, but realised that her heart was focused more on the shoes that she would wear than the cases she would win. Even though she was warned about the risk of creating her own business, especially as a young woman, she decided to be brave and go out on a limb. That bravery brought us the beautiful and timeless shoes that we all love today! As a celebration of other women who have decided to be brave and create their own journey, we have a series of blogs that highlight kiwi business women and their stories. We hope you enjoy reading about these amazing women and the businesses that they have created in our own backyard.
Our first amazing woman is Maria who created Maquinky, selling her funky, handmade underwear and clothing. The first thing you notice about Maria is her smile. She has such bright and enthusiastic energy that it is no wonder she felt compelled to make undies and accessories that are just as fun and upbeat as she is. I sat down with Maria to talk to her about her journey in creating Maquinky.
Tell us a bit about Maquinky, what is your story?
I always knew that I wanted to work for myself and start a business but I hadn’t decided what I wanted that business to be. My nephew, Quinn, was born about 10 years ago so I took the opportunity to join our names together to create the name for the business and now all I needed was the idea for what it was going to be.
Around that same time, so many of my friends started having babies and they were a bit alternative so I couldn’t find anything that really reflected their personal style for baby shower gifts. I saw some really cute fabric with skulls on it and thought they would love baby bibs made out of this and they ended up being a hit at the baby shower! I eventually got into the craft market scene and Encraftment but the market was oversaturated with kids clothes and my customer base died off. I decided I needed to be flexible and decided to make women’s underwear as well as the kids clothes because no one else was making it in the handmade space. They became a massive hit, people loved the colour and comfort of them!
So you decided to be brave and trust in your creative process. What keeps you being brave and inspires you to keep doing what you love even when it gets hard?
Definitely the regular customers. I get so much amazing feedback from my regulars that really inspires me to keep going. I also want to make a product that is for everyone. I want to encourage the diversity that we are seeing more of in terms of body size and race and make sure that everyone gets a chance to own something that they love. Even though it's just undies, I think that they are really important because the first thing that you put on everyday should make you smile. I can do that for people, I can make them smile.
I love the idea of the first thing you wear needing to make you smile! It’s great to see that you are inspired to keep going. What were the challenges that you faced while building your business?
I came into the market scene which is predominantly women so I think I was lucky that I wasn’t going into a male-dominated industry. It can be difficult to focus on having positive connections with other people that own small businesses when you are the competition but there is room for everyone. I like to focus on building each other up and I have made some fantastic connections with other owners.
I have also found that time management can be difficult for me. There is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. I have been up until 3am on some nights trying to finish all the orders but I’ve learned that I need to make myself a priority so I don’t get burnt out.
Why should people buy your undies?
They are super fun and comfortable and wedgy free. But also, when you buy from a small business, you are supporting a family. When people buy my undies, they are helping me to pay my electricity bill and buy food for my family. I think there is something really special about that.
Thank you so much for coming to talk to us, I’ve had a lot of fun getting to know your story. Before you go, can you tell us what are your favourite pair of NR shoes and why?
It has to be the Nemesis in emerald. I love the colour so much! The shape of the heel is also just so elegant.
You can find and support Maria at @maquinky & www.maquinky.com