Covid-19 and the associated lockdowns have put tremendous pressure on the global economy, with New Zealand being no exception.


Extreme times like these are renowned for changing the way that businesses and industries operate — creating innovative productivity methods and new ways to communicate and manufacture.

Here, we speak to Mahsa Willis, designer and founder of clothing label Mahsa.

Have you implemented any changes that you will keep post-lockdown?

The lockdown definitely highlighted the importance of communication between our small team. We had to be collaborative, nimble and accepting of the circumstances while exploring how we could remain productive. As shown by our Prime Minister, communication followed by action is key to getting through trying times. Moving forward, I would say that Zoom and FaceTime commutation will continue because it’s fun, saves time and is good for the environment (limits the need for driving). Personally, I want to concentrate on minimising my driving and plan on investing in an electric car.

What have been your biggest take-away lessons from this time?

Small is good. Simplicity is good. Slow is good. Made in New Zealand is good. Timeless is good.

“Small is good. Simplicity is good. Slow is good. Made in New Zealand is good. Timeless is good.”

In what ways has the lockdown forced you to adjust future plans for your business?

We’ve always focused on fostering relationships that work, and are in constant communication with our stockists and customers. Making long-term plans really relies on those relationships being strong.

Our local market is key for our brand and alongside our Australian stockists, has been our focus from inception.

Over the lockdown period, we wanted to ensure that our website and social media moods spoke to authenticity, empathy and transparency. Coming out of lockdown, our business model is in a position to adapt to the new conditions. We want to remain small but be nimble and put all of our attention on quality — of product, people and planet.

Tell us about the low moments and successes you’ve experienced and how they’ve affected your vision.

Low moments are always useful, they teach you a lot. I’ve found that, working from home, one has to be realistic, as it can all collide. Bandwidth overload, moody children, house work, screens… it can start to feel like groundhog day. It inspired the need for ritual and regular walks, talking to neighbours over the fence and letting things go when you need to. Taking an hour to get something done is sometimes all you can achieve and that’s okay. Happiness is productive. 

Success — people buying Mahsa pieces during the lockdown, sending notes of appreciation and stockists being in touch — makes me feel immense gratitude. Helping people to feel good is such an honour and that, in my view, is the whole point of fashion. Having time to really value and understand what we are all doing and being able to take stock of life and business has been productive.

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