Business mentoring gives fashion label a cutting edge

ReCreate Clothing owner Erica Gadsby (left) with Srey Leak Reath (right), manager of their sewing center in Cambodia. 

Erica Gadsby is transforming people’s lives through fashion, and has done so through the help of Business Mentors New Zealand and a seasoned business expert.    

Her business, ReCreate Clothing, is a boutique label dedicated to creating modern, clean designs using sustainable practices and organic materials. The concept of sustainability is carried right through their business operations, and the people who make the clothes are at the center of it. 

With a sewing base located in the disadvantaged community of Dey Tmey, Cambodia, Erica and her team have created fair employment for the locals who produce ReCreate clothing.

Their clothing production team, who are mostly women, are fairly employed and are provided with excellent working conditions that include benefits and decent living wages. They are also given ongoing opportunities to upskill.

It was Erica’s first encounters with the country that kick-started the foundation for her business.

“The idea for my business came from the time me and my husband spent in Cambodia,” says Erica. “We always worked with the community over there, and each time we went back we saw there was no real opportunity for women to have any skilled employment. The idea for supporting and empowering these women came before the idea of making clothing.”

As the business idea unfolded, Erica realised she needed the right guidance to turn her idea into a lucrative venture.

“I wanted support through transitioning my business from one that just covers costs, to a business that’s financially sustainable and profitable,” she says.

Erica sought advice from Business Mentors New Zealand – a service that pairs small businesses with business experts who give advice, guidance and support.

Offered through Te Waka, Waikato’s economic development agency, the mentoring programme gave Erica the edge she needed to generate growth for her business.

“Securing a business mentor was an easy process,” she says. “We applied for the programme before meeting with the suggested mentor. We were really happy with the match and we worked together for almost a year. They were really helpful during that time.”

“From helping with the functionality of our website, to financial management and future planning, their time was very valuable. I think the main thing I gained from the experience was learning to look at the bigger picture and to see where the gaps are.”

Erica says the confidence she gained through her mentor meant she was empowered to take risks that paid off big time.

“I give this service quite a lot of credit. In the first year of working with our business mentor, we doubled our revenue. That really came from the confidence I gained through our mentor to act on business ideas and execute them.

“Following that, we saw a huge amount of business growth which would have been much slower to progress without the support of a business mentor.

“It was quite empowering to work with them and in the end it felt like we’d covered all the areas I needed support with, and I felt confident to continue on.”

Erica says the future is looking positive for ReCreate, and hopes to expand their business internationally.

“We’re currently working on exporting our clothing brand, as we want to grow our product and brand across the board. But our real goal at the end of the day is to support more people in Cambodia, and create fair employment through the production of our range.”