Teeing it up

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By Sean Fox

Birgitte Roberts has built her business from the ground up.

Now she’s reaping the rewards with a community behind her.

The 29 year-old Mount Morgan resident, a Maori descendant, has teamed up with indigenous woman Barbara Oram to establish their unique clothing store, Gili’s Twisted Tees.

Since its inception in 2018, the pair have achieved great success making their own tie-dye t-shirts, raking in orders from various organisations.

But hard times were about to erupt for small businesses alike.

“We rolled into 2020 and Covid-19 hit, I had to move; I had my house I was living in sold, I was down to one job and so I did the only thing I knew,” she said.

However, she kept charging on with her vision in mind.

After a recent interview with the Mount Morgan Argus, Ms Roberts revealed her decision to originally launch the brand was her choice not to revert to living a life on the streets as some of her relatives had done.

So she made it happen.

After having sold her hand-crafted items in market stalls since May 2018 (while working three jobs at the time), it was time to give the brand a home of its own.

“I am no stranger to hard work, my options in life were limited so I chose to break the cycle I was in due to my childhood,” she said.

In October, Birgitte started the arduous task of transforming some rundown stores in the historic town’s former CBD strip to build her own storefront.

“There was quite an upfront outlay as there were no floors, ceiling or electricity,” she said.

“I was talking to the owner of 111 East St before the Covid-19 measures hit; about August or September I got back in touch with him and we started our renovation stage for two months.”

The storefront was officially opened on December 9.

“This is as real as it gets,” she said.

“You have to believe in yourself, and work hard to achieve.”

After having her wish come true, the only way was up.

Now the future is looking bright.

The brand includes products ranging from manchester items such as sheets and towels to socks and linings for vehicles.

Taking about four days to create a piece, plenty of detail and articulation is poured into each item.

“Each piece is unique and authentic, no two pieces are the same,” she said.

Focussing on how she can enhance her brand and product range, Ms Roberts is looking to the future.

Ms Roberts has plenty of plans from hosting workshops to adding screen printing to her range.

Located in East St, you can also visit Gili’s Twisted Tees on their Facebook page.