If you’re looking for the birthplace of high fashion in New Zealand, your mind will quickly wander to Auckland’s Ponsonby or the streets of Wellington.
Few people would think of the small town of Ōpōtiki on the east coast.
Home to delicious seafood and stunning wildlife, and a shop on the high street that is thrusting the eastern Bay of Plenty town into the world of high fashion.
Twenty-four-year-old Jakob Carter makes evening wear designed for international catwalks and celebrities.
“That’s one thing I try to do with all of my collections is to create something entirely new and different to give people an amazing experience,” Carter said.
After building his business for five years, Jakob’s label offers candles and fragrances as well as high-end fashion. Its products are in 150 stores across the country.
“Honestly, it’s a very urban vibe, but I didn’t grow up in the city. I draw all my creativity from my hometown. I was inspired by people, by landscapes and so many different things. It’s a great place for a designer to grow up.
His latest collaboration is with local Kiwi musician Stan Walker.
“I think I made a proposal of about 15 pages and sent it to his manager, and then I was at the airport one day and got a phone call from his manager and I I said let’s go and I just remember jumping up and down in the airport,” Carter said.
Carter says the most fun days at work are the ones he spends helping on the production line. At one point, the brand managed to manufacture a thousand perfume bottles in one day.
After enjoying success over the past few years, Carter is looking to expand its brand into Australia, Europe and the UK over the coming months.
“Over the past year and a half, we’ve struggled to maintain sales, which has been impressive, and growth has honestly been the hardest part. The only thing I realized was that we were definitely able to grow and develop from here in Ōpōtiki. It’s something that I didn’t know if I was capable of doing.
“I had so many people tell me it would never work. I think we’re the perfect example of doing something big from a small town. You can totally do whatever you want, wherever you are in the world. You just have to make it happen.