The Ourootz Journey

My story as the founder and creator of Ourootz

Ko Piko rāua ko Kohuroa ōku maunga

Ko Parengarenga te wahapū

Ko Waitononi te awa

Ko Kura Haupo te waka

Ko Ngāti Kurī tōku iwi

Ko Pohotiare tōku hapu

Ko Waiora rāua ko Te Hiku o Te Ika ōku marae

Ko Shontai Pene tōku ingoa

Ourootz is a small family business, based in Brisbane, created in late 2020. The inspiration for this business came when I gave birth to my first-born in March. When Covid-19 hit, lockdowns began, boarders closed, visiting family became difficult and the unknown became inevitable. Being a first-time mama, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my pēpē (baby) and so I decided to start my own business from home.

I have a background in e-commerce and drop shipping, but none of them were hugely successful because I wasn’t invested in the production process. From here, I started making custom tees on the side for friends and families; for different events and occasions. Once I got the hang of the process, I decided I wanted to create my own business. At first it was doing a lot of research, reading reviews, watching videos, calling different companies, and messaging influencers. All this just to get an idea of what to do, what materials to use, what designs are popular, etc. Then came the Originalz Collection.

In my first collection I express what is important to me and what I value - clothing/designs with meaning. The meaning being family, lineage, culture, and heritage. This sparked the slogan to Rep & Connect, meaning to represent who you are and connect to your roots. I worked with Tom Simmons (a Māori artist on the whānau piece) and Hilton from Myyahuart (on the Anau & Aiga pieces) to create the Originalz collection. They drew the designs while I created the backgrounds and computerised the finished product. The meaning behind the design is what I value (you can read this here). Eventually, I hope to create more in this collection to tautoko (support) other Polynesian countries, giving our Poly brothers and sisters the opportunity to Rep & Connect.

Growing up in Australia I missed out on the general knowledge and understanding of Te Ao Māori. Upon the arrival of my first born in 2020 it was important to me to ensure that Te Ao Māori is a part of our life. I soon signed up to learn te reo, and in that I have been learning so much more. Since signing up I had what some may call a spiritual awakening. I researched, prayed, and spoke to different people about these images in my head and soon put them on paper.

After speaking to different people about the images, I soon discovered resemblances and connections with the Atua. The images come to me during meditation or in my dreams. So I sketch, record the images and ideas that arise.  I do struggle with computerising these kinds of images, so I found a good friend of mine Iqbal to help me do that. No, he is not Māori but he has helped develop my imagery and pursue my purpose. 

The purpose of the Atua designs are to encourage learning and spark conversations. For Māori like myself who don’t/didn’t know about them to view, ask, research and learn more. To live alongside them like our Tūpuna. 

I have three main personal and professional goals for Ourootz, amongst many others.

The first is designing and creating a blog about each Atua print: to make a platform where you can comment, share views, stories, and beliefs about the Atua whilst making it a safe, comfortable and inclusive space to share, collaborate, educate and learn. Additionally to grow my skills with different programs and learn new techniques to create my designs. 

Next is to scale and expand. My partner and I plan on returning home in July with the travel bubble now open, to set up something in New Zealand so that shipping is faster, cheaper and access to our products is easier.

It is also a goal of ours to become a greener business. The companies we work with use water-based, non-toxic, biodegradable inks for our prints. Additionally, we have purchased biodegradable shipping bags and reusable zip lock bags to package our products. There are ways we as consumers can do so as well: simple things like following the care instructions so that they last longer, recycling and reusing. That information can be found here.

I cannot take all the credit for this mahi as there is a collective who has helped me to create, learn, connect and understand. I will always be grateful to my tūpuna, kaiako, whānau and customers for their ongoing love and support. 

Ngā mihi nui koutou. 

 


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