We caught up with Estelle Dippie, founder of Commonplace — a global sales and brand agency based in New Zealand who connect premium global brands with local marketplace leaders to drive growth through not only sales but also awareness. We’ve also had the pleasure of working directly with Estelle and her team for the past 6 months and we’re excited to share her story with you.
Loess: Tell us about Commonplace Distribution – when did you start and why?
Estelle Dippie: Commonplace Distribution is a brand-led sales agency with a focus on global designers with an ethos centred around product that is conscious and kind. We work with international brands whose values align with our own to drive growth through sales and awareness. It’s become a bit of cliché but CPD was first started off the back of a pandemic redundancy. I was working in an Auckland-based PR agency when I was made redundant in early 2020. I hadn’t long been out of university and with New Zealand in a full lockdown, opportunities were looking pretty limited at the time, so I decided to start working on something of my own. The idea was first dreamed up after a conversation with my good friend and mentor Amy and it began from there.
L: Is there any meaning behind the name?
ED: There’s a couple actually! I loved the idea of taking a brand that might be relatively unknown to a new market and helping to make it ‘commonplace’ so to speak – working strategically with communications and our retail partners to achieve the right positioning so that our target audience knows exactly who the brand is, what they are about and of course, where and how they can purchase it.
What’s more, Commonplace Distribution is all about bridging the gap between global brands and local retailers – we are quite literally a common place where aligned brands and retailers meet to forge meaningful connections and partnerships.
L: We love that Commonplace has a large focus on being conscious, kind and ethical – why is this so important to you and to work with those that share these same values?
ED: Taking into account the climate crisis and the impact of the fashion industry on our planet and its people, it was simply never an option not have our core values focused around being ethical and environmentally conscious. These values underpin the intention behind everything we do and every decision that we make. Together with our brands we champion progress over perfection. We’re certainly not perfect, but we’re working, learning and improving every day.
Not only is purpose-led business hugely important from a sustainability perspective, we know that increasingly this is something that consumers are demanding more than ever before. We take pride in representing brands and products that consumers feel good about buying – whether that comes from a place of longevity, social responsibility or environmental benefit.
L: Were there any unexpected challenges you faced during the process of creating Commonplace Distribution?
ED: There were definitely some steep learnings around the import/export process in the beginning. The fact that the global freight network was thrown into absolute disarray by Covid-19 certainly didn’t make this any easier, but thankfully we have an amazing freight partner who has been with us since the start and has helped us beyond measure.
L: Now onto Commonplace Essentials, we absolutely love the line you’ve created. Where did the inspiration come from?
ED: Thank you! We first began making logo tote bags as a brand moment for friends of CPD. The demand from our small community came sort of organically from there and we started making cosy 100% GOTS certified organic unisex hoodies and track pants as a creative side project. We’ve since slowly expanded this line out to include shorts, tee’s and caps, and this winter we are so excited to launch our first ever complete collection together with a small number of selected retail partners – watch this space!
L: What does the process for creating each garment look like?
ED: Commonplace Essentials is all about thoughtful garments that have been designed to enhance everyday life. We focus on practical basics that embody the CPD ethos of being accessible, socially conscious, and kind to the environment. Each piece is carefully considered for both its utility and aesthetic – I start by thinking about what our customer wants and needs – often starting with what my friends and sisters would like to have in (or having missing from!) their wardrobes.
From there we work with our suppliers to source the right fabrics and perfect the fit. Our upcoming collection focuses on muted tones that draw inspiration from the world around us, featuring luxe fleece-lined 400GSM organic cotton sweat shirting, gender-neutral outwear crafted with repurposed and recycled fibres and of course our core logo favourites.
L: What’s next for Commonplace?
ED: We’re focusing on continuing to grow the business New Zealand and Australia, and hopefully in the next 12 months further afar globally too. It’s an enormous privilege to work closely with such innovative, creative and talented people as they continue to evolve and refine their craft, so I’m excited to see what the next 12 months brings!
L: Let’s chat about the day-to-day happenings — what does a day in the life look like for you?
ED: I like to begin each day with movement first thing in the morning – at the moment I’m loving Reformer Pilates and running.
Then I’ll get ready for the day, grab a coffee and head into our Wanaka office. Each day is different but generally I’ll start by checking my inbox and actioning anything that has come through from our Northern Hemisphere-based brands overnight. From here my day could involve anything from meetings with brands, showings with retailers, store visits, packing orders, product development and feedback, range planning, reporting, business strategy – and a whole lot of emails in between! In the evenings I’ll head home and continue chipping away on creative work and then I’ll finish the day by watching a series (we’ve just finished Yellowstone – so good!) or reading.
L: 10. As a business owner, we’d imagine you’d have a crazy work life, how do you manage work life balance?
ED: The lines between work and life definitely blur, however I try and keep the weekends as work-free as possible. I love what I do but I also think it’s important to switch off to keep a fresh and balanced perspective. I find that balance by spending time with my partner and friends and family. I also love to spend time outside, and we are so lucky to live in a country with such incredible natural landscapes. It’s been an amazing summer full of swimming, paddle boarding and walking which is has been so refreshing.
L: Favourite weekend vacay?
ED: I love a weekend getaway to Russell in the Bay of Islands. It’s a tiny coastal town with a super relaxed vibe. No matter when you go, it always feels like everyone there is on holiday! My must-dos are a sunrise swim at Long Bay, a day trip to Urupukapuka Island and lunch or a drink at the Duke of Marlborough.
L: When choosing a perfume, what type of scents are you attracted to?
ED: I like scents that are simple and clean – I’m not a huge fan of anything too fussy or sweet. I tend to gravitate towards the woody notes like cedar, sandalwood and amber, but LOESS Dark Paha is my favourite!
L: What’s your guilty pleasure?
ED: Tik Tok. Endless, mindless scrolling…
L: We love hearing about businesses who are using their platform for good – tell us a brand you think people need to know about.
ED: The Curve is an incredible platform which is all about closing the gender finance gap and creating space for women to learn about investment and finance. I can’t recommend it enough for those who want to learn more about how to invest, the importance of financial literacy, being financially savvy for the long term and responsible investing.
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