5 minutes with Natasha and Arianne Ritz, Arna
You guys have done some great stuff working with women from around the world. What have been some of the best moments for you both?
Arianne Ritz: The best part of the business is just speaking to a diverse range of women doing amazing things. We continue to be inspired every day by changemakers, movement starters and just all-around incredible women.
Natasha Ritz: In 2019, both Arianne and I worked with a leadership coach, Kylee Stone. She is an absolute powerhouse of a woman and really taught us so much about ourselves and our own power. I think it really prepared us for the kind of impact we wanted to make and the kind of integrity we wanted in our business. This was an incredibly tough but rewarding experience of really facing ourselves but it set us up for building a trusting and accountable foundation for the business.
Also, in 2020, I went travelling and visited our manufacturing facilities and met the people who make our bags.
I’ve also been working in India more recently with a group called JOYN who employ artisans and local makers. It’s been an incredible experience learning from these talented and inspiring people. We look forward to a long relationship together.
What are some of your favourite brands or retailers around the world and why?
AR: I love the brand Lonely Label; they showcase real women’s bodies in their lingerie which is refreshing to see.
JOYN bags in India are a favourite as well; they have great ethics and look to up-cycle leather while also employing locals and teaching skills to people who would be otherwise unemployed.
Pinatex is another favourite brand; they have been making pineapple leather for the fashion industry and are truly helping us create a better more sustainable fashion industry.
NR: I absolutely love Lush, I am biased because I worked for them for many years, but the brand is truly wonderful. Handmade, amazing products with ingredients sourced from all over the globe. I learned so much working for Lush about ethical business and understanding how deep you need to go in a supply chain to make sure it’s up to the standards you want.
I also love Patagonia and everything it stands for. I was lucky enough to attend a dinner of one of the founders in 2019 when he came to Australia. He was such an inspiring man, really true to the company values and ethics.
What are some of the interesting things you’ve learned about each other since going into business together?
AR: We talk a lot to each other about our fears and blockers and it has been interesting to see these play out. We keep a really open dialogue and no conversation is off the table.
NR: Arianne and I also lived together for two years as well as working together, so we learned loads about each other! I’ve learned that Arianne is by far the more creative person in our relationship and I’m the one who can take the creative idea and implement it. We’re super complementary as a team and love working together. She really helps keep me inspired.
What are some e-commerce trends that you’re interested in?
AR: I think it is going to be a really interesting next few months with the current state of the world during COVID-19. I think we may see some interesting new trends start coming through, as retail will have to start to reinvent as an industry. We could even see the rise of small business or more collaboration from different types of brands working together, as we will need to innovate to reboot our economy.
NR: I’ve been in e-commerce and retail for about 14 years and I think it’s been stagnating for the last six or seven years with small innovation but nothing huge. I truly believe we will see department stores either completely removed from the mix or with much smaller footprints.
Mostly, I think mixed retail will be the leading style that captures people’s hearts and minds, like mixing a little coffee shop, a working space, a small library, some artwork and general retailing in one space. It will be a place where people can dwell and engage for long periods of time with a mix of needs.
I think the larger malls like Westfield may need to really look at changing their model and their mix of retail. Consumers and retailers will start to have a much stronger sense of power and negotiate rents in ways we’ve never been able to in the past. A big power shift is about to happen in favour of much smaller retailers and businesses.
This story is from the May 2020 issue of Inside Retail magazine. Subscribe here.