Jewellery designer Holly Simpson-Howe works in her Dunedin
studio. Photo by Craig Baxter.
It has been a big couple of weeks for Dunedin jewellery
designer Holly Simpson-Howe.
Not only was she named winner of the $10,000 Altus Financial
Services AMP regional scholarship, but her work also featured
in the November issue of British Vogue.
A graduate of Otago Polytechnic, Ms Simpson-Howe (25) was
''completely blown away'' by the scholarship success and
excited about how it would enable her to fast-track her
It would allow her to start building her brand and increase
distribution, which was critical for long-term success, she
Getting recognition from the likes of Vogue was also very
exciting and she had since been contacted by other magazines.
While still at polytechnic, Ms Simpson-Howe worked with
fashion designer Marie Strauss at her Dada boutique and
designed a small collection of costume jewellery, which was
''kind of a taster''.
It made her realise that she could do it herself and the
business had grown from there. She produced her first
collection in 2011 and now produces three collections a year.
Working from a studio in the Carnegie Centre, in Moray Pl,
she has 25 stockists throughout New Zealand and Australia.
She was recently invited to join the design capsule Not Just
a Label, established by Stefan Siegel, and she has a launch
at Dada on November 15.
Working mostly in sterling silver, she was inspired by
objects, geometric shapes, nature and architecture, Ms
While only in her second year of business, she was pleased
with how it was going. She was looking forward to building
the brand - ''getting seen and being out there'' - producing
more collections and doing a little more experimentation.
While she had long-term goals in mind, she intended taking it
''collection by collection'' and be smart about what she
produced. She enjoyed the business side of the enterprise.
She did not want to develop the business too quickly and,
when it came to future staffing, she intended to start with
It was difficult for young designers to get a ''foot in the
door'' and she was keen to provide some valuable experience.
She particularly welcomed an opportunity to give something
back to the polytechnic.
It was important to retain talented young people in Dunedin,
she said. There were many creative people in the city and
there was also a lot of support. People were willing to help
- ''I'm not sure if you'd get that in a bigger city'', she
Altus business manager Jerry Pearse-Smith said the
scholarship judging panel was not only impressed with the
range and depth of this year's applications, but also with
the level of creativity and design involved.
''Dunedin is fast becoming a hub for all sorts of designers.
Altus is keen for the city to retain this talent and
encourage design-based businesses.''
Ms Simpson-Howe demonstrated a great deal of talent and
passion, as well as a solid approach to business, he said.