Like a Boss: Rachel Sloane, Naveya & Sloane

Rachel Sloane, Owner and designer of jewellery brand Naveya and Sloane. Picture / Babiche Martens.

As the Creative Director of local jewellery label Naveya & Sloane, Rachel Sloane oversees the vision of the brand she launched in 2010. From designing the look and feel of a campaign to store fit outs to customer experience, she and her partner work with a team of 14 in their headquarters in Central Auckland, where they produce gorgeous fine jewellery and engagement rings. "I am very passionate about creating a company that is of a world class standard and something that New Zealand can be proud of."

How did you get to where you are today?
I work alongside my partner, Alex Bunnett, and together we make a wonderful team. We are very lucky in the sense that our skill sets are quite different and we are both very passionate about what we do. Being surrounded by an amazing team is also critical and we have 14 staff at the NS headquarters, whom I admire. We would most definitely not have reached our goals today without these key people. We do try to work with the best of the best and we all work very hard to keep the train moving.

What is your leadership style?
We are a team, we listen and help each other. I tend to hire people who are naturally driven, which makes managing them a lot easier. Being in a senior position, I always aim to be supportive to ensure that everyone feels like they are free to design their own day. Working in a fast-growing company you need to let go and give people freedom to flourish. As a creative company with a core focus on design, I believe it is important to nurture creativity and inspire each other to reach above and beyond what we think is possible. I believe this is best achieved by creating a supportive culture where it's okay to give things a go, and fail. For me, passion, drive and a good eye for detail go a long way and our main goal is to hire the right people at the right time with the right attitude. It takes many hands to make light work and, although we are a team with a broad skill set, it is extremely important for us all to have the same vision and to work toward the same goals.

A defining career moment?
A defining moment would be when we set up our jewellery workshop on site at our Queen St studio. A year beforehand it seemed like an impossible goal, where almost all workshops in the industry are 30- to 50- and some even 100-plus years old. This meant that we could really refine our processes and control the quality, from design to the finished product. We are now a specialist manufacturing jeweller, in New Zealand and with over 100 years experience in our workshop.

What is the best career advice that you have received?
Never ever ever ever ever give up and to keep it simple.

Your tips for young women and up-and-coming female entrepreneurs?
Find something that makes you feel alive. Don't be afraid to give it a go; as long as you can plan it and visualise it, it can be done. Don't be afraid to look beyond New Zealand for inspiration, set your goals higher than you can imagine possible. Work only with people who are better than you. Listen to the people around you, but stick to your own vision. Surround yourself with like-minded people who can support and help you throughout your journey, you are only as good as the people around you. If something is not going right, go left!

How do you dress for the office?
I feel at home in lighter colours and you can't really go wrong with a white silk shirt. It is amazing how different colours can make you feel. I do love to wear all-white and cream, although it is not overly practical! I adore tailored pieces, too, that complement and accentuate a woman's silhouette.

As the public face and founder of your company, do you dress to represent it?
Yes, I like to feel beautiful, classic and understated. I think naturally I do enjoy wearing clothing that complements Naveya & Sloane, which generally means light dreamy colours and quality fabrics. Although I also enjoy wearing black as it is always a classic easy option if I am really busy.

Do you set an office dress code for your employees? What is it?
We do have a dress code but we also encourage our designers to have their own style. It is important for them to look polished - shirts and tailored jackets always look smart.

Do you favour any designers or stores for your working wardrobe?
I wear an eclectic mix of everyday wear and designer pieces. I love Country Road and Zara for basics, as well as Kenzo, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton for a bit of luxury. I am a big supporter of New Zealand designers, too, and often shop at Kate Sylvester, Moochi and Juliette Hogan.

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