NZ Distributor Spotlight: Estelle Dippie of Commonplace
Tell us about Commonplace Distribution - What is your role?
Commonplace Distribution (CPD) is a brand-led sales agency that works with global designers – such as Flamingos’ Life, CAVERLEY, Friend of Audrey, LAAGAM, Musier Paris and Stine Goya – with an ethos centred around product that is conscious and kind. We work with international brands whose values align with our own to drive growth through sales and awareness. More recently, we have also launched an in-house brand – Commonplace Essentials. Commonplace Essentials is all about thoughtful garments that have been designed to enhance the everyday. We focus on sportswear-inspired practical basics that embody the CPD ethos of being accessible, socially conscious, and kind to the environment.
My role as the founder and brand director of Commonplace Distribution and Commonplace Essentials involves a very broad range (as any small business owner will know!) but in short, I oversee brand management and retail partnerships. This can be anything from looking after our brands and retailers, logistics, creative direction and design, product development, range planning, reporting and business strategy.
What were you doing before you started your journey with Commonplace and what did that look like crossing over into something new?
It’s become a bit of cliché but CPD was first started off the back of a pandemic redundancy. I was working in an Auckland-based PR agency when I was made redundant in early 2020. I hadn’t long been out of university and with New Zealand in a full lockdown, opportunities were looking pretty limited at the time, so I decided to start working on something of my own. The idea was first dreamed up after a conversation with my good friend and mentor Amy who owns Chapman Store in Dunedin and it began from there.
How many people are in your team and can you briefly explain the process with your new collection from design-production-marketing-wholesale (it might all be you!?)
We now have an in-house team of three and also work with a couple of incredible agencies in Australia who I consider to be close extensions of our team. Everyone has their own role and expertise, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be part of such a great little team working cohesively towards the same goals.
Each collection takes shape around a difference theme, idea or motif, and every piece is always very carefully considered for both its utility and aesthetic. We start by thinking about what our customer wants and needs, and from there we work with our suppliers to source the perfect fabrics and refine the fit. Once the final collection has come together and been photographed (one of my favourite parts of the process), we launch to wholesale and then go to production. Then the final step is to launch to consumer alongside our retail partners.
What is your favourite part of your job/process and why?
Working closely alongside incredible creative entrepreneurs and independent business owners is a part of my job I really love. I find it so rewarding and fulfilling. Seeing our conscious and kind brands succeed in the market is also always a highlight. A good example of this is Found Store-favourite, Flamingos’ Life. The brand was relatively unheard of in our part of the world when we first launched it in 2020 and we now have 30+ stockists who regularly sell out across New Zealand and Australia. It’s a really cool process to be part of.
What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner/designer? What have you learnt?
Navigating the post-Covid retail environment has definitely brought some challenges. In New Zealand in particular, we are seeing spending behaviour and market trends change quite rapidly. That being said, I think it’s important to enjoy each stage of the journey as it comes, rather than always looking to what comes next. This is something that I’ve learnt over time. When you’re constantly focused on achieving growth in business, it can difficult to slow down, but taking the time to celebrate the wins, find joy in the small moments and appreciate what you’re building in real time certainly helps. I’ve also learnt that it’s important to lean in to your convictions and integrity, trust your instinct and be intentional with your decision making.
What would you say is a signature piece for Commonplace Essentials and why? Could be your most popular or one you feel truly represents your brand best.
Our caps! Commonplace Essentials first came about when we began making tote bags and caps as a bit of a brand moment for friends of CPD, so they were one of the first pieces we ever created. The design is very signature Commonplace – a little preppy, a little sporty and ultimately a uniform piece. I wear mine all of the time, they go with everything!
Where do you get your inspiration from? Do you have anything specific you can use as an example that has directly inspired a design or style?
I find a lot of inspiration in the art of prep and uniform dressing and vintage sportswear. To me it encapsulates what it means to dress in a comfortable yet classic and timeless way everyday – which is what Commonplace Essentials is all about.
What do you think sets NZ designers apart from the rest of the world?
I would say investment in natural and organic fibres and environmentally friendly/responsible processes. I think New Zealand designers prioritise these values more so than their counterparts elsewhere in the world – and I think New Zealand consumers do too.
Best piece of advice you have ever received?
Work hard. Don’t be afraid to take risks.
Another NZ designer we should check out? Could be your favourite or someone up and coming.
It’s too hard to pick one! Olivia Cashmore, Bronwyn and rey, the label.
Your go-to coffee spot?
Ozone in Grey Lynn
Your favourite place to go for dinner?
Pici on Karangahape Road
Your favourite place for drinks?
Bar Non Solo in the city, Beau in Ponsonby
A free activity you would recommend checking out in your city? Could be a cool walk, gallery you enjoy etc
A Saturday morning drive to Matakana Markets followed by a walk at Tawharanui never misses!