Mandatory Interview

For the last decade and a half Mandatory has been dressing menfolk in New Zealand and abroad in their finest attire. Their clothes and business philosophies are built to last and Mandatory supports One Percent Collective by donating $5 from every bottle of their number fifteen fragrance to our partner charities as well as numerous marketing methods of support.


What's been rockin' in the world of Mandatory?

We turned 15 years old in June 2012! I have been designing the costumes for Hone Kouka's "Tu", which premiered in the 2012 New Zealand Arts Festival. It has been 16 years since I have designed and produced women's wear and there were four women to dress alongside six guys. Mandatory's workroom produced the collection and we love it. The change up in spec and cloth, producing fresh takes on classics for extremely beautiful and talented actors was so exciting for everyone here. 


What businesses trends are inspiring you at the moment?

The rise of the IT industry in Wellington. I am very excited to see this eco, creative, export industry thrive in Wellington. Great ideas seem to be getting up and going every day. Oh to not be so economically reliant nationally on dairy or on government in Wellington!

The Mighty Mighty brings joy, is ridiculous fun, often educational and is totally non age-identifying. Mighty Sally is an example of business owners with whom I share good guardianship of Cuba Street amongst its cluster of small epic businesses. 

The Arts Foundation is a GOOD THING – check it out.   

Radio Active keeps creatives alive. There are so many wonderful, talented people who we get to know about because they have honed their craft in the supportive environment of Active. It is a great people-led station and every day we get lucky from it.


What's the most important life lesson your business has taught you?

Sharing. We have had truly amazing staff over our 15 years. Every one of them has worked very hard and been part of the success. We have created a community. Clients are extremely encouraging and connected so the high quality and hard work is acknowledged every day. I believe 30% of my time is focused on staff, their needs and development. Skill sharing and training creates growth and frees up my crew to be their best and really enjoy their hand in the business. 


What place does generosity have in business?

We support the Food Bank and Epilepsy and our small window space is one of the best billboard spots on Cuba Street. We generally reserve this for people to display posters promoting their gigs, acts, plays and community and charity events. Everyone is good to Mandatory and we like to think we pass it on. I have a bevvy of loyal crew who turn up and put energy back into me – Kava McIntyre set the style. I take this energy and in turn give it out to those with brave new ideas coming down Cuba St. As a small manufacturing business Mandatory has received a great deal of encouragement, recognition and respect from institutions such as Te Papa, and the The Dom Post. An illustrious array of clients, entrepreneurs, major artists, achievers, execs, dads, guys with a lot else going on, all make their way up haphazard Cuba to be part of what we do, be encouraging and lay down the dollars. These guys are crucial to our success, allowing us to work within a culture and community which is fun and energising while we produce premium and often made-to-measure clothing which is labour-intensive and ultimately expensive and high-risk. The community of small businesses on Cuba Street from the pharmacy to the dairy all show support to one another.


Who are a few of the most generous people you've met?

Rod Baxter for gifting time, energy and skills. Baxter is a youth worker for BGI, another amazing private organisation. He has a huge range of interests and draws on these to ignite kids to reach their potential. Baxter is amazing. This takes enormous patience, complete selflessness, all available time and some!

Andreas Lepper, a statesman of Wellington's music scene, is magnetic.  He leads a style of positive, creative, generous spirit seen in so many musicians including the likes of Barnaby [Weir], Warren [Maxwell], and my treasured tireless friend and giver of energy, Joe Lindsay. Andreas uses his amazing percussion and teaching talents in music therapy for disabled children. Everything is fun. Nothing is ever too much trouble. 

Pat Shepherd. You will not be pleased to see this in your own interview but you are a complete inspiration. With your heart, energy, passion and skills, you make things happen.


What music is on your playlist at the moment?

Live music is really my thing and if I had the time and means I would be a permanent travelling groupie for Mike Fabulous and Aaron Tokona. Recloose has a permanent residency on my iPod. Shogun Orchestra is on my turntable.

I have purchased and given away at least 10 copies of Sing along with the Yoots. Fabulous Arabia is this summer's album for me. 


Tell us three things that inspire you. 

Volume Magazine. Digestible chunks of music news and info to assist in keeping abreast of music when you can’t live it all.

What Really Happened. A brilliant, made-for-TV dramatisation of the Signing of the Treaty of Waitangi – shining a light on the players on that day. Jarod Rawiri as Hone Heke – fantastic. 

National Radio’s local music shows: The Music Mix, 101, and Martin Kwok's Round Midnight. Also National Radio’s Arts and Politics shows. All great stuff for gardening and/or late nights in my studio.

Are you keen to join Mandatory in the giving evolution? Click here to get involved.