Nora Swann

Nora Swann. Photo: James Tang

Nora Swann is a familiar face in the New Zealand fashion industry. The personal stylist and entrepreneur is a tireless campaigner for Pacific and Māori designers, with a relentless drive for working with community groups to encourage confidence and self-esteem.

A self-confessed lover of creating opportunities, outfits, and all things positive, Nora’s list of achievements includes founding the Pacific Fusion Fashion Show and also the Dressed in Confidence programme.

This week the spotlight turned to Nora when she was recognised by the Pacific Business Trust and presented with the Kanumea Afine Loto Toa – Pacific Woman in Business award.

FashioNZ caught up with Nora to find out more.

What does this award mean to you?

Winning the Pacific Business Trust’s Kanumea Afine Loto Toa – Pacific Woman in Business award tells me I’m on the right track with how I am running my small business. When I first started in business, there was very little support, so I felt like it was the blind leading the blind.

Fashion has never been a traditional career pathway for Pacific people, and I remember having limited support when I first started, so this win is also a testament to other Pacific people in the fashion industry to be persistent and never give up.

I’ve learnt so much and still have a lot to learn. I have both good and terrible days but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What are some of the achievements that you are most proud of?

Staying authentic to who I am and what I believe in as a Pacific woman in an industry that tends to depict unrealistic fashion and beauty standards is one of my proudest achievements. It has not been easy going against the grain because people are used to doing and seeing things in a certain light so my journey has been one of courage, hope, and of planting the seed of ‘what could be’. Leading a life that reflects what’s important to me both personally and professionally has been my focus as I’ve grown my business in the fashion industry.

Nora Swann

Nora Swann accepting the Kanumea Afine Loto Toa – Pacific Woman in Business award
Photo: Pacific Business Trust

What have been some of the greatest challenges this year?

As my business continues to grow, my personal and professional lives are becoming more intertwined into one, and so it is a challenge to lead a balanced lifestyle. Also, when you work in the fashion industry, there is this perception that everything is about the glitz and glamour, so I always tell people who are wanting to come into the fashion industry that you need to stay focused and work extremely hard, as there is no easy way around it.

Then there is another perception as well, of an overarching feel of an “exclusives club”, which has never been my thing. I still feel it when I go into certain spaces and then I’m reminded that I am walking into these spaces with my ancestors, and I immediately am empowered.

Why are awards like this important?

I think it’s extremely important to acknowledge Pacific women in business. We continue to come up against adversity; for example, Pacific women have the largest pay gaps compared to other ethnicities. We also have many gender issues within our own cultures. However, we continue to rise and show through our work, that we are just as capable and deserving as anyone else.

What are you most proud of in terms of Dressed In Confidence?

I am most proud of the support we have received from the wider community when we reached out to donate good quality clothing for the participants in our Dressed in Confidence programmes, in particular, our female clients going into the workplace. The clothing continues to come in, and we are so grateful to everyone who is helping us build our Walk in Wardrobe.

What are you most looking forward to about 2023?

I have some pretty big plans for 2023, which both excite and scare me. We’re looking at moving into a bigger premise and expanding our Walk in Wardrobe, so I’ll be spending a lot of the Xmas break on this project.

The post Pacific Woman In Business Award for stylist and entrepreneur Nora Swann appeared first on FashioNZ.