Designer Annah Stretton (centre) with her daughter Sami (left) and her mum Vicki (right). Image supplied.
2019 will see the Annah Stretton brand celebrating some wonderful milestones with designer and social entrepreneur Annah Stretton set for another busy year. Some may not know that like many businesses in fashion Annah’s is a family affair and this month sees one her mother Vicki, who is one of the longest serving members of the head office team, celebrate her 80th birthday.
“At 80 years of age, mum is an absolute inspiration to us all. It’s such an amazing feeling to have three generations working under one roof every day,” says Annah. “I have loved having her in my space for the last 25 years and I look forward to sharing another decade of good health and good times with her working in a space that Sami, Mum and I all share a passion for.”
Annah’s daughter Sami has worked with the company for many years already and this year sees the well-planned transition between Annah and her daughter Sami continue forward. Annah has been working towards moving out of her demanding CEO role and into more social impact work which she is very passionate about.
“It’s part of a carefully constructed five-year handover plan that will see ultimately see Sami take over the running of the business,” says Annah. “Sami has been working in the company for many years now. It started with button counting during her primary school years and it has just naturally progressed from there. 2017 saw her launch her own fashion label for 20 somethings – Young + Resolute – to enable her to get right up close to what it takes to take a commercial collection to market – as well as taking on more responsibilities for the day to day running of the business in her capacity as General Manager.”
This March both Annah and Sami will travel together to collate the Spring/Summer collection for 2019 which will be another important step in the handover process from mother to daughter.
“It’s an exciting but challenging time to be working in the fashion industry but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” says Sami. “Not many people get the opportunity to develop such an iconic brand and, work alongside their mum while they’re doing it! The future is all about cherishing and evolving what we have as well as bringing my own mark to the label.”
A shared love of dogs has also seen the family turn their passion into another business with the recent launch of Doggy Daily; a superfood supplement that helps to optimise a dog’s life expectancy. It came from a worrying discovery Annah made when her own dogs developed cancer and lead her to want to help other dogs too. “When my beautiful boxers Paris, and then Olive, got sick with cancer I started doing my own research about what was causing it and stumbled across a very sobering statistic; one out of every two dogs will contract cancer during their lifetime and, in 40% of instances, the cancer will be activated through their diet,” says Annah.
Annah’s research lead her and Sami to start to find and trial alternative cures including dietary herbs, seeds and spices, like turmeric and pumpkin seeds, that were known to decrease inflammation, increase digestion and fight cancer. Their experiments paid off with a dramatic improvement in Olive’s tumours and overall good health. So much so that they wanted to share their superfood supplement with fellow dog lovers everywhere.
Doggy Daily will become more widely available in New Zealand this year, with Annah and Sami also looking to take their new product off-shore starting with China.
“Not only do the Chinese share our love of dogs, but they also have a love affair with made in New Zealand” says Sami. “When it comes to food, our clean, green image translates into safe and that’s exactly what they are looking for when it comes to their fur babies.”
This year is certainly set to be an exciting one for this fashionable family.