While working full time as a packaging designer for a small business, Catherine Melo found herself not being able to give the best of herself to either her children or her job and wanted to do something that gave her the flexibility that she needed. All of her previous roles and experience lined up in a way that designing, printing and selling bed linen, baby wraps and apparel seemed like a great choice. In 2013, Melo started researching and planning, and in April 2014 had the product ready to sell as part of her new brand Burrow and Be.
“I wanted a name that evoked the ideas around warmth, safety and home, A burrow was a great combination of these especially as it’s the home of cute bunnies which have always been strong characters in children’s stories,” said Melo. “The be is about being yourself. Burrow into your space and just be you, be happy, be playful, be silly, be unique.”
Since launching clothing last year, Melo has developed a production cycle that features a core ‘essentials’ range that is everyday practical pieces. Alongside this, there is a seasonal drop where Burrow and Be collaborate with designers to create pieces that surround a theme or tell a story, with beautiful detail and one-off fabric designs. “I love that we collaborate with other artists to create new and interesting designs. These collaborations can influence the style of our garment designs also.”
Burrow and Be is really a reflection of Melo herself. “I have grown the brand with values and meaning that are true to my everyday life. From the outside, I like to think our style is classic yet sophisticated.” The team use unique colours that can work in harmony with the modern parent and home, and the print designs are all unique and original.
Designed specifically for the Burrow and Be range by Melo, or in collaboration with other artists and designers locally and around the world. “The design and the end product is only one part of the brand. Other areas such as ethical production, sustainability and growth not at the expense of others are also high up on our brand values.”
It is really important to Melo that products within the range are true to the brand’s values and of the highest quality. “When using organic and sustainable materials it is often hard to find manufacturers that will produce what we need in the quantities we can currently order. We have some products on a wishlist that, until we can find the right business to create them, with the right materials, we won’t compromise our values.” Originality in design is also important, with all of the prints and patterns being illustrated exclusively for the brand. “Often with a vision in my head I work with different illustrators to create the look I am wanting.”
Since launching, the product range has expanded and over time the ‘Essentials Baby Clothing’ range has been hugely popular as well as the new muslin bunny comforters.
All of the products are designed here in New Zealand and are made around the world. The size range in the offering has previously gone up to a size 8, however next summer it will only go to 5 as the prints and styles seem to work best with the younger age group. However, Melo believes there is room for a new range for older children.
Overall, the general design aesthetic of the brand is classic, whimsical and sophisticated, with a touch of Scandinavian simplicity. However, as they work with different illustrators and designers, the style does change from season to season.
“I have lots of plans for this year and over the coming years. Our biggest plan is to really crack into the Australian market more and then grow our export market to the rest of the world.”
The biggest achievement for Melo to date has been that this year, her husband was able to quit his job and work full-time alongside her. “This has always been the plan, so it was a great achievement we have been able to make this happen already, as well as run an apparel business in New Zealand.”
Melo loves the challenge of growing a business, and there is never a dull moment in her day. “I am always learning and researching. I love that I can design and curate beautiful pieces, meeting and creating friendships with other amazing businesswomen, and although I work harder than I have ever worked in any other job, having the ability to be there for my kids when they need me is great too.”
If you would like to know more about the brand or become a stockist please visit their website and fill out the wholesale registration, www.burrowandbe.co.nz.