Recycled brand comes with message
Following the recent closure of her retro shop Beach, Bach & Beyond, Mangawhai’s Mary Kelliher has found a way to re-use fabrics that were prominent long ago.
A self-confessed collect-a-holic, with a long history in the rag trade, Mary has reinvented her own Raphael label from her clothing days, honouring the industry and creative thrift of NZ women 1910-1950.
The Raphael range features reversible shopping bags, beach bags, zip wallets, and plastic bag tidies reinvented from tablecloths and tea towels from bygone eras that would otherwise be discarded – a poignant matching of the old and the new.
Mary’s products have a strong Anzac connection through the work of woman at home while men were off fighting a war.
In difficult times ingenuity shone through as essentials such as petticoats, nighties, tea towels and table cloths were often made from flour bags.
“It was quite common,” explains Mary “for flour bags, which were unbleached hard-wearing calico, to be soaked in washing soda and soap, or kerosene and soap, then boiled to remove the brand marks. The colour would come out and they'd be really white.”
Groups of women also took it upon themselves to provide the comforts that soldiers needed in their kitbags: two pairs each of socks and underpants; two each of woollen shirts and undershirts, towels and cholera belts; and one handkerchief, chest protector, pair of braces, holdall, balaclava cap and service bag for rations, all handmade.
The old-new Raphael brand will be relaunched at Kakariki, Anzac weekend, Saturday April 23 with Mary in store doing a sewing demonstration and offering workshops to learn the technique of the reversible bag.
“This is my tribute to respecting the fabric and keeping alive some of the old craft skills.”
Mary Kelliher (left) and Sarah Harrild show off some of the Raphael range, backed by Mary’s retro cushions. Nutritionist Sarah will now be a regular fixture at Kakariki. She has worked as assistant manager of a health shop in Edinburgh, dealing in herbal products and giving clinical advice on nutrition. With her chef partner and 5-year-old daughter Sarah and family are settling well into the Mangawhai lifestyle.