New online marketplace solves millennial fashion problem of a closet full of clothes with nothing to wear
The Best Kept Secret is a fashion-focused start up with vision of a helping women celebrate diversity through kātahu (clothing) in a sustainable way.
Millennials are becoming more trend-driven and want clothing that reflects their self-image or personal brand, rather than owning a closet full of clothes they don’t wear.
Paige Arago-Kemp (Ngāti Porou) is the founder of an online marketplace with a vision to enable fashionable and eco-conscious women in Aotearoa express their true selves through what they wear in a sustainable way.
The Best Kept Secret was selected to participate in Kōkiri 2021, the national kaupapa Māori business accelerator programme run by Te Wānanga of Aotearoa from its business and innovation hub, Te Ahikōmako – Centre of Māori Innovation & Entrepreneurship. Paige is joined by two other team members, her sister, Paris Arago-Kemp (Ngāti Porou), and friend, Celeste Donner (Rongowhakaata).
When Paige had was at high school, she had her own ball dress made by finding a design she liked and taking it to a dressmaker.
“After the ball, people approached me to ask if they could borrow my dress. I thought this is a new behaviour, people want to borrow the dress I had made as opposed to going out and making their own or buying their own dress.”
After high school, Paige completed sewing school and worked as a fashion assistant while studying. During her time in the fashion space, Paige became pregnant with her son and the idea behind The Best Kept Secret took a backseat while she switched to more long-term career aspiration and navigated her newfound life as a parent.
“When COVID hit, I was made redundant in my role and was forced to make the decision to find something else in the professional realm or take a risk and do something I am passionate about.”
The online marketplace solution will help offset the contributions that textile waste has on the environment but also celebrate diversity among wahine in Aotearoa.
“We want to be a service that helps women unlock that part of themselves that gives them the confidence to be able to nail a job interview or to be able to stand up and speak in public,” Paige says.
The team believes that within the next five to 10 years, the majority of women in New Zealand, and eventually the world, will have their wardrobes on some type of subscription; paying a flat rate monthly fee to receive three or four staple items of clothing in the post every month.
Paige Arago-Kemp (Ngāti Porou) and sister Paris Arago-Kemp (Ngāti Porou) along with friend Celeste Donner are the co-founders behind The Best Kept Secret.
The 12-week Kōkiri programme uses proven business accelerator tools to set the teams up to have an iterative and innovative development process in place in the future. “We’ve been able to gain a wealth of knowledge from our kaiako, advisors, and Kōkiri guest speakers, and coaches that we can now use to set ourselves up for the future,” Paige says.
The Māori kaupapa led approach has helped the team learn how to equip themselves in the business world within a capital market driven environment while still upholding the same principles as their ancestors, predecessors, and tupuna. “I’ve found it a rewarding programme to be a part of,” Paige says.