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A feel for fashion

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Where does the Briarwood story begin?
It began some 29 years ago when I [Ange Marshall] returned
from abroad with a dream of creating beautifully crafted
handbags. Fast forward a few years and Jayne [Thomson]
arrived in the form of a salesperson extraordinaire, with the
very same passion and work ethic. It was an easy fit when
she then became a partner in the business.

What makes your partnership work?
The same love for the products we create and a genuine
love and respect for each other. Having worked together
for over 25 years we know each other so well. Sometimes
we finish each other’s sentences and just look at each
other and laugh!

At what point did you decide to extend beyond
luxury handbags?

About seven years ago we decided to jump on into
clothing because… why not?! The brand has skyrocketed
as a result and we derive so much pleasure out of seeing
women love our designs and come back for more.
Our handbags remain still very important to the brand,
however. The lining, in particular, is iconic to us – we have
always had a striped or floral lining, which makes it so easy
to find everything inside your bag.

How do you define the Briarwood style?
The styling of the clothing is simple, easy to wear and ‘not
complicated’. We have a lot of colour and bold patterns
that our customers love. Every time they come into one of
our stores, they see something new; we like to keep the
shops looking fresh and interesting.

Is there anything shoppers might be surprised to find on
your shelves?

This is the first season we have done knitwear. We developed
a range of 100% merino jumpers and cardigans, made in a
factory in Auckland, which are divine. The cashmere/merino
blend and our cute fluffy knits are simply fabulous.

How do you keep quality at a high level when the
quantities increase?

It is a challenge, as quality is very important to us, but we
have great staff who are always going the extra mile and it’s
no different when we enter the ‘busy’ time of the season.

You recently opened your first store south of the Strait.
How has the Christchurch reception been so far?

AMAZING! We are so very grateful. The customers are
delightful and so happy to see the entire range in one place
(our wool scarves have proven to be extremely popular in
Christchurch!). We are here to stay!

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