INTERVIEW: Ellis of Ellis and Friends

Ellis and Friends is one of New Zealand's favourite online stores turned Ponsonby pop-up. Founded by fashion and entrepreneurial guru, Ellis Hong, the store now has a cult following of avid fashion girls, including myself. I sat down Ellis to find out more about her new self-titled brand, how the store began and what she can't be without. 

1. How do you describe your creative style and how is it different from yourself?

I feel like my creative style is constantly changing but always influenced by the same things. It’s generally influenced by whatever I’m feeling at the time or little things that I have stumbled across either on the street, an image found on Instagram, interior & design or outdoor surroundings. I try not to differ my style from myself usually as I think that’s where the originality comes from.

2. How did Ellis and Friends begin and where did you draw inspiration from to get it off the ground? 

Funnily, the name actually began as a jewellery brand I wanted to create. I kind of pondered on it for a while but knew I always wanted to work with clothes. Looking back I guess I was a bit lost! Naturally, the direction changed quickly and after some prep decided to launch it as an online clothing store on Facebook instead. My parents ran their own business so growing up I guess I have been around start ups and saw how great it could be. Seeing them, I always knew I wanted to work for myself and as cliché as it sounds, if you know what you want in life then you don’t always need inspiration to move forward with it. 

3. You recently started your own label under the Ellis and Friends brand. What inspired you to create Ellis?

Ellis and Friends has an amazingly loyal customer base for the designers that we already carry. As an online shopper myself, I’ve always been drawn to things that are unique and found on non-mainstream boutiques or vintage stores. I decided to launch it as another part of the store kind of to fill the gap that it was missing. Pieces that are limited and although it may not look like a complete collection, every piece comes from a place that began as a thought of what my wardrobe was missing. It’s kind of a rule breaking brand. I would love to release a printed tee at some point too.


4. How does an e-shop compare to a physical store when it comes to fashion?  

With an e-shop, there are so many facets of the business that you need to build on as you don’t get that direct customer interaction like in a physical store. As our customers don’t get to try on our pieces, it’s been a priority to make sure we’re always honest, on call and depict our pieces as legitimately as possible. This is why our social media threads and 'How She Wore It' page work so well for us.

5. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced since beginning Ellis and Friends?

I’d say the work life balance has always a struggle. When your based online, it’s so hard to switch off from what is going on completely. Other than that, the last year has definitely been challenging as we’ve had to keep moving & adapting to accommodate our growth. I call them growing pains.

6. What are the three things you always have in your bag? 

My iPhone, keys & eftpos card for sure. Very simple.

7. What are your five autumn wardrobe essentials? 

On my wishlist at the moment I’ve got a classic shaped tee in a neutral shade to wear with jeans, a simple midi dress to throw on for any occasion, a new belt to create an old season outfit new, a silk scarf for the awkward weather days and a mini skirt to pair with black with sneakers and an oversized jacket. 

Shop up a storm over on Ellis and Friends now. 

Alarice Stuart