This column is a little different to others I write, but it is related to the food and beverage sector so I think it’s fair game. Mavis & Osborn manufacture and supply high quality, sustainably sourced clothing, aprons and other products to the hospitality sector as well as making homeware products for everyone.
I visited their studio last week to meet with owner and maker, Tamzin Hawkins, to learn about what they do and their attitude to creating a quality, sustainable product rather than the usual average quality product that’s designed to be replaced on a reasonably regular basis.
Mavis & Osborn was started in 2012 by Tamzin and is now run by her and partner Jonti, along with their two and a half little ones Nikau, Manu and ‘baby in the belly’.
Tamzin brings some serious experience to her business, while studying fashion design at AUT she worked part-time for Trelise Cooper in her shops in Auckland. Tamzin says Trelise was a huge influence in her life and a wonderful mentor. “When I had qualified she offered me a job in her workroom where I was the sampling assistant for her Cooper range and then helped design and launch the kids range. Trelise was also instrumental in me leaving New Zealand and travelling to learn about the world, see different cultures and how those cultures influence design.”
When she was travelling Tamzin ended up in England where she designed pushchairs for Silver Cross, “they’re a very old British nursery brand, founded in 1877 manufacturing pushchairs and other baby-related products. The company, based in Skipton, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom, and are best known for the production of baby prams and pushchairs, particularly coach-built prams. After five years there I came back to New Zealand and lived in Wellington for a short time where I started a small business making children’s clothing. During that time I was asked to make some aprons for Flight Coffee and the business has grown from there.”
“Growth has been very much word of mouth, people seeing the product and asking where it came from. That steady growth has suited us while we started a family and developed the business model.”
After the short stint in Wellington she moved back to Auckland, where she met her partner Jonti and continued to grow the ‘White Label’ brand, which is now all under the Mavis and Osborn label expanding the hospitality range of aprons and uniforms. It wasn’t until they made the move down to Nelson that they were first contracted by Hotel Britomart to design and produce uniforms for their staff, after searching for a sustainable NZ made option.
“It is a full design and production effort, we work with the clients on design, specific colours, different material options and the whole range of sizes required. We can also custom design for individuals too producing bespoke clothing for anyone, not just hospitality.
All of the clothing and various apron products Mavis & Osborn make are branded with café or restaurant brands rather than theirs, “we want to be behind the scenes and make good quality products from natural fibres that are functional and lovely to wear. We avoid anything with a plastic content so it’s linen, cotton, canvas, natural leathers from Tasman Leathers and vege tan leather from Italy using barks and leaves to dye the leather.”
While aprons and uniforms are key hospitality products Mavis & Osborn also make laundry baskets and canvas bags “That’s our hero homeware product we manufacture the frames in Auckland and ship the bags from Nelson.”
“Sustainability is really important to us and something that is at the core of what we do. We currently have one client in the US who sells our laundry hampers, but rather than sending them the entire product we send the bags and they manufacture frames for the bags so we don’t have the carbon footprint of freighting them. We’re currently working with a new client in Belgium on the same basis.
“Also, rather than just passing the product to the client and forgetting about it we can get the products back at the end of its useful life and turn them into other products like washbags.”
Even off-cuts from the manufacturing process are used by stitching small pieces of fabric into larger panels and then turning those into beanbags and other cool stuff.
Sustainability isn’t just about the product for Mavis & Osborn, using local talent is also very important. “The fabric starts in Auckland at the wholesalers but the pattern cutting is done by Geoff who is a specialist fabric cuter at Grey Door Alterations in the Phoenix Arcade, then everything is sewn and assembled here by a number of contract sewers.
“There’s a really strong group of contract sewers in Nelson who set up after local manufacturers closed down, they all have their own workspaces and are independent contractors, but also work from our workshop from time-to-time too. It’s nice to have others to hang out with. They are all very experienced and deliver a fantastic quality product.”
Local fine-woodworker, John Shaw, is someone else they have developed a close working relationship with, “he has just launched a range of fine woodworking tools and we designed a tool roll for him, he has designed and made some things for us, like a large worktable and his new hammers are perfect for our machinists.”
“We outsource other specialist aspects of our manufacturing to local businesses too, there’s so much talent in this region we feel quite spoiled sometimes.”
Tamzin says they would love to work with other local businesses, especially as customers. If local businesses think they might be too expensive I suggest you check them out, “we are competitive as far as price goes, but it does come down to volumes being ordered ” says Tamzin.
“We also get excited when businesses engage with our sustainability ethos, Kokako Coffee in Auckland asked if we could make some reusable napkins to use when they serve coffee rather than using paper napkins, so we created a range using off-cuts from the manufacturing process.
“People often come to us with a problem and we solve it, for example we are currently working on a waterproof jacket for hotel porters that are high quality and sustainable. It will be a lot better than a generic jacket off the shelf, it is being designed in the hotel colours and will merge into their current uniform nicely.”
Tamzin says that while they can make uniforms and apron products for any sector, from luxury lodges to local cafes, any business that needs a good quality uniform, “it’s good to know products are being worn every day, are comfortable to wear and long-lasting.”
If you’re looking for a uniform or apron for your hospitality business check out the Mavis & Osborn website and get in touch, you just might like a high quality, purpose designed, sustainable apron or uniform with your brand on it rather than a generic supplier a brand. www.mavisandosborn.com