Born on a farm northwest of Auckland, local jewellery brand PĀMU pays homage to its Māori roots. Fusing together the mana of wahine toa with fashion-forward designs that stand the test of time, the woman behind the brand, Alicia Haszard has created an accessible and affordable range for all New Zealanders, inspired by her late grandmother.
From delicate necklaces and rings, which fuse Māori elements with contemporary trends in jewellery, Alicia has just celebrated her first year in business and has seen her brand go from strength to strength.
It’s no easy feat when she’s also a busy mum of three boys. FashioNZ sat down with Alicia to find out what inspired her to create a brand that celebrates strong women, and how she’s found her first year in business.
What inspired you to create your own jewellery brand?
I’ve always had a passion for jewellery but never felt like I had the time to really focus on a business. It wasn’t until I wanted to begin work again once I had finished having my three boys, I knew the timing was right to begin something, as I needed a career that had some flexibility. I researched a lot and found that we were missing a high-quality alternative to fashion jewellery in New Zealand that also has a reasonable price point. I also knew that I needed to incorporate my Māori culture into it and make something that all New Zealanders could cherish.
How does the brand pay homage to your Māori heritage?
The name PĀMU means farm in Māori. I called my brand PĀMU to incorporate where I created and continue to create our pieces which are on our family farm and loved the idea of using the Māori name to bring in my own personal Māori heritage.
My Māori heritage is passed down from my nana on my mother’s side who I was very close to my whole life. She taught me as much as she could about her life and where we are from. She grew up with a Māori mother and Russian father and back when she was young, kids weren’t allowed to speak Te Reo in school and naturally she began to lose her language but still remained close to our heritage, marae, and community.
You were very close to your nana, what are some early memories with her?
My sister and I spent most holidays with our grandparents. My most fond memories with them are spending time baking biscuits, making fried bread, and going to collect pipis from Ahipara beach. She was a strong Māori woman and was absolutely a role model for me growing up. I wanted to incorporate her spirit and mana into some of my designs. So, we can all carry that strength as women.
Tell us about your designs. The wahine range is very popular; what does it represent and what does it mean to you?
The wahine necklace was created to mix current fashion trends with our heritage as New Zealand women. I wanted to create a piece that was bold but also embodied the delicate nature of us as females. It holds the mana of wahine toa and when you wear it you can feel that strength of those who came before us and our future generations. It is a key piece of our range and one that carries so much strength.
Who are some strong women in your life you look up to and why?
I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many strong women. Firstly, my mum. She was a business owner and self-employed my entire life. She always made sure she was there for all the important moments in our life and showed us endless amounts of support even though she was the busiest person I know. I have made some amazing friends throughout my business journey who have been a sounding board and a huge support for me when I have had some tough days. I don’t think I would enjoy my work every day if it wasn’t for them. My mother-in-law, Kate, who is always there to lend a helping hand with my kids or pack orders when I need, Rima (Sole Shoes), Georgia (Bored George), Hami (Hami Fashion), and Monique Bradley have all been amazing sounding boards for anything in business that I have been unsure about and they are always there to give me 100% support. I have noticed such an amazing culture of women supporting women throughout my business journey here in Auckland.
What are your favourite pieces from your collection?
I’m pretty lazy when it comes to taking my jewellery off so my favourite pieces are the ones I can wear every day. My staples are the Vera and Wahine necklaces layered, Penelope huggies and ring, Phoebe ring, and Halle studs. If I’m heading for a night out, I love the Cece or Valentina necklace and some statement earrings like the Delta or our new Roimata. I like to name my jewellery pieces after women I either know or am inspired by. One of our most recent designs I asked our Instagram followers to name it and that was a really fun interactive way of naming a design.
How do you like to style them?
I really like to change up my pieces depending on my outfit choice or event. I am loving layering pieces at the moment. That is the beauty of our range; pieces can be worn solo or layered depending on your mood and the look can change so much by doing this. I love the versatility of our pieces, how they work solo or alone, and have had lots of great feedback that our customers are loving this too.
You are a mother of three boys. How do you balance that with running a small business?
It’s a day-by-day challenge; some days I feel in control and like I can conquer the world and other days I struggle to fit in a coffee. Keeping the kids in a routine helps day-to-day life run smoothly, but if someone is sick or there is an unexpected event, it can throw a spanner in the works.
You’ve just celebrated your first year of business. What have been the highlights and what have been the challenges?
The highlights would be all the amazing people I have met and connected with along this journey. We have such a loyal customer base who have sent us the most amazing reviews, which mean absolutely everything. The biggest challenge so far would be in the manufacturing process — product runs that take much longer to arrive than expected and shipping delays. I’m learning to be much more proactive with stock reordering as it can take months from time of order until it arrives.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I like to get inspiration from a mix of current fashion trends and traditional styles. I also like to add a twist of kiwiana into my pieces where I can. I look to everyday Kiwi women and am inspired by them but also desire to create pieces they will cherish and wear every day.
Who are your fashion influences?
I have such a diverse love for so many different designers and people wearing them. Most of my fashion inspiration now comes from pieces that I genuinely like instead whether the designer is well known or not. I would say my fashion influence changes by the season.
If you could have any celebrity or fashion identity wear Pamu who would it be and why?
I would have to start with the Kardashians. I feel like our pieces would work well with them, especially with Khloe and Kourtney. Isn’t that everyone’s dream?
Your range is hypoallergenic, as you suffer from eczema. How hard was that to achieve and did you see a gap in the market here?
Yes, it was super important to me that my jewellery pieces also display an element of practicality. Stainless steel is a fantastic metal to work with because it not only allows the jewellery to be hypoallergenic and water-resistant, but it also means we can keep the price point accessible. There is definitely a gap in the market for stainless steel jewellery as people don’t really understand the qualities of stainless steel as a metal, so sometimes prefer to choose other options; it is a lot more popular overseas.
How would you describe PĀMU and who is the PĀMU wearer?
Fashion-forward jewellery that is accessible without compromising on high quality. Our PĀMU wearer is anyone that wants to elevate their daily style. We have such a diverse range of pieces that there is something for everyone.
What’s next for Pamu?
I would love to create some more pieces that resonate with New Zealand women as much as the wahine necklace has. I feel like we don’t often find pieces that incorporate our New Zealand heritage and a current fashion trend and it’s really important for me to try and have both in some of my designs.