Loulou Maclaurin made the move to China after falling in love with Shanghai while visiting. Working in a variety of jobs from an internship with a start-up company to teaching at kindergartens and high schools, you may have seen her working at a string of expat bars in Guangzhou. Now the Gisborne native runs Mamoo&Lou, a Kiwi family business that designs and manufactures merino wool knitwear for babies.
Where are you from and what is your background?
I am originally from Gisborne, New Zealand. I studied a Commerce degree at the University of Canterbury then worked at a winery in Hawkes Bay before making the move to China. In China I’ve had a variety of jobs, from an Internship with a start-up company while working at a Kindergarten teaching on the side, substitute teaching at a High School and working in a string of expat bars in Guangzhou.
Why did you leave New Zealand?
I sort of unintentionally left New Zealand. My brother Jeremy was manufacturing clothing in Dongguan, China. After I finished university I went on a work trip with him to check it out and see what all the fuss over China was about. We spent a week in Dongguan, which I wasn’t so impressed by, then a week in Shanghai, which I fell in love with! I went back to New Zealand saved my pennies and booked a one-way flight to Shanghai… that was at the beginning of 2011. I wanted to get out of New Zealand for a while and see a bit of the world. I wanted to do something different to the usual UK OE, China seemed to be where it was at business wise, making it the ideal location to get a taste of Asia while furthering my business career.
Tell us about your current business venture?
Mamoo&Lou (www.mamooandlou.com) is a New Zealand family business that designs and manufactures stylish 100% Merino wool knitwear for babies aged 0 – 12 months. It’s a family collaboration with my sister Megan and my mother Libby. The business is divided between two countries, with Megan and Libby based in New Zealand, and me in Guangzhou.
Mamoo&Lou’s Merino wool is sourced from throughout Australasia and the garments are designed in New Zealand and made in China, mostly by knitting machines. I source and oversee production in the metropolis of Guangzhou, China, while working remotely with Megan in Auckland and Libby in Hawke’s Bay.
Mamoo&Lou are committed to providing unique and practical garments for babies, made from natural fibers.We have created versatile, gender-neutral items that work together as a collection or stand alone as wardrobe staples.
Our garments are designed for optimum comfort and warmth, so all they need to focus on is having fun and exploring their world.
Why did you start this new venture?
I left China to do a stint in America working on the super yachts. I wanted to come back to China to take advantage of all the opportunities here, but needed something to do. A few years back my mother Libby had the idea of making babies clothing. She had previously made a trip to Shanghai with a friend to look into the idea but nothing ever eventuated from it. She threw the idea out there when I was in the US and we decided to do it. My eldest sister Megan has a background in design and was about to have her first baby when we started brainstorming, so was in the know with all the baby gear and quickly jumped onboard. We wanted to create a go-to brand for parents, grandparents, family and friends. Something that stands out, that’s versatile, practical and great quality. And so Mamoo&Lou began!
Do you leverage your “Kiwiness” in your business?
We definitely leverage our “Kiwiness” with Mamoo&Lou. One of our major selling points is that the brand is designed and inspired in New Zealand. We are using raw materials from New Zealand and hope that we can keep and increase that link with New Zealand to keep it as close to home as possible as we grow.
On a personal level, what motivates you?
Seeing other people around me in successful businesses, making progress and getting things done. China, and in particular Guangzhou is a great place for this. Most of my friends and expats here and starting up their own businesses or have been here for a while and are running successful businesses. There is always a network of people to get advice and tips from or to inspire you to keep going. No one ever thinks your ideas are too crazy or far-fetched in China.
Where to from here?
We are currently in the process of expanding our range and introducing new styles so that it fits every season world wide, year round. New Zealand and Australia are currently our biggest market, but we aim to increase sales world wide, particularly in Asia in the coming future. We are also welcoming overseas wholesalers, sales agents and distributors.
I would like to get things to a level in China that I can move back to New Zealand and commute to China when need be, having the best of both worlds!
You can check out our range and company on www.mamooandlou.com.