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Finz’s New Chairperson

14 December 2005

Finz’s New Chairperson Has A Track Record For Full Order Books

The appointment of Annah Stretton as Fashion Industry New Zealand’s (FINZ) Chairperson 2006 caps off a triumphant year for the ‘small town’ designer who brings strong bottom line business skills to the role.

Proving that real success doesn’t begin and end in the ‘big smoke’, the accountant turned fashion designer and entrepreneur has built her business into a multi-million dollar success from her base in farming Morrinsville – and it’s a track record she plans to emulate with FINZ.

“Fashion is as much about filling the order books and bottom line business acumen as it is about glitz, glamour and creative flair – it’s also fabric, factories and freight.

“This year I spent some time speaking to schools in the Bay of Plenty and Hamilton areas about the importance of balancing creative subjects with business studies,” said Stretton.

It’s a position she is well qualified to comment on, having notched up a string of business and fashion achievements this year, including Her Business Woman of the Year 2005, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Award for Retail, Consumer and Industrial Products 2005 and an honorary capping from the Waikato Institute of Technology, Wintec, for a Masters in Arts.

Launched in mid-2002, FINZ is a national not-for-profit industry organization representing the small fashion companies and textile suppliers within the New Zealand fashion industry, as well as ensuring the sector has a voice at Government level.

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It is no surprise that Stretton is especially pleased with the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Award when considering her commitment to the business end of fashion, and her plans to bring more cohesion to the local fashion industry.

“We’re up against economic superpowers like China, so it’s vital that the local fashion industry works together to make sure we deliver the necessary quality and value that gives New Zealand our edge,” says Stretton.

There’s little doubt that the Her Business Citizenship Award 2005 winner has a head for business. Annah Stretton Clothing employs more than 100 people, exports to 150 clients world wide and increased the company’s turnover by more than $2 million this year.

Stretton’s clothing is sold through 28 outlets countrywide, including nine franchise stores overseas. In June the company opened the Mount Maunganui store, followed by the Whitianga store this month and next year a new store will open in central Hamilton.

As important to Stretton as the awards and business achievements this year was the fact that she mentored more than 10 small businesses – half of these from the fashion industry – and wrote six columns with a business mentor focus for Her Business Magazine.

Annah’s commitment to mentoring other businesses and her new role as chairperson for non-profit FINZ reflects her balanced philosophy towards creativity, the business bottom line and importantly, sharing that success.

“In May we raised $70,000 from a concert with Tim and Neil Finn for our True Colours Charitable Trust – an organisation which supports children and their families through illness and grief.”

Fundraising for True Colours Charitable Trust also included the Waikato’s Opera in the Quarry and in July Stretton also gifted the trust a house to use as their premises.

Other milestones this year included:

- Chic Cuts – hairdressers cut hair to raise money for breast cancer at the Waikato Westfield mall, raising $10,000 while helping to educate more than 400 women about breast cancer.

- Worked with Hope for Life Charity to raise more than $100,000 for a local woman with a brain tumour.

- Worked with the SPCA to stage the 'Ultimate Pet Party' with a performance from the Top Twins.

- Assisted in setting up the SPCA Santa Run – the first event of its kind in New Zealand in which more than 200 Santa's ran around Hamilton Lake.

- Raised $25,000 from a Waikato Ball for the Waikato Breast Cancer Trust.

- Showed at In the Pink breast cancer fashion show for the National Breast Cancer Foundation at Sky City in Auckland.

- Worked with the local Bay of Plenty and Hamilton Polytechnics’ advisory boards to develop their fashion diploma curriculums.

- Judged the Waihi Wearable Arts

- Judged Mystery Creek National Field Days ‘Ag Art Wear’ show

Despite a year of fund raising and business success, Stretton’s 2005 would have been incomplete without the fashion flair she is famous for.

In January she won the Supreme Category at Fashion in the Field Wellington for the second year running, loaned the World of Wearable Arts Museum her entry to go on display for a year and concluded a successful fashion week in which the four Fafafines that graced the ramps again set tongues wagging.

It seems certain that not only will FINZ benefit from a healthy dose of creative fashion and business acumen in 2006, but also a tremendous injection of the energy that has helped make Stretton the New Zealand success story that she is.


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