10 Years Strong: A Conversation With Jono Moran Of Infinite Definite
We sit down with Jono Moran of Infinite Definite as the Christchurch retailer heads into their 10th year of business.
246 High Street
In our latest edition of A Conversation With we sit down with Infinite Definite founder and operator Jono Moran. The Christchurch independent streetwear retailer has been serving locals since 2008 with an eclectic mix of brands that are hand picked for both men and women. With a strong emphasis on community it’s only natural that most of their labels and designers are from New Zealand or Australia but that’s not to deter from their global reach with an offering of overseas brands.
The retailer now reaches its 10th year in business with a birthday party to celebrate the occasion this Friday with accompanying merchandise releasing as well. It’s no easy feat reaching such a milestone in business especially the minefield that can be retail and fashion, we picked Jono’s brain as to what has attributed to their success, how they react to world trends and what were some of the challenges they’ve faced along the way.
How did you first become interested in retail or fashion for that matter?
I have a bit of an obsession with making things. Learning and understanding processes and experimenting with different materials and techniques. Fresh out of high school this was making skateboards and playing around with screen printing which a few years later lead onto pattern making and garment construction then sculpture.
So I guess for me fashion and retail were an interest that came out of a desire to make things. The materiality of clothing, learning different construction techniques and the creative freedom that comes with creating retail environments were probably the main drivers for me pursuing it further.
Let’s talk about the early days of Infinite Definite, how did the idea for a store come into fruition?
Infinite Definite started as a fairly open ended creative outlet. I had been jumping around between sculpture and fashion design. So the initial idea behind Infinite Definite was for it to be a brand name under which I could make things whether it was fashion, furniture, skateboards, whatever. This started out with menswear which I was designing and manufacturing locally in Christchurch and selling to other retailers around New Zealand. There were some great stores in Christchurch but nowhere that I really saw as a the right fit for the brand.
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So then came the idea “Hey let’s open our own store”. We had been selling some of our gear from my first floor studio on Manchester Street when an empty ground floor site on High street came up which looked like a great spot (cheap spot) in an area of town that had heaps of potential. So we signed a lease. From there it grew quickly from a space to sell Infinite Definite the brand to picking up other rad brands that weren’t being stocked in Christchurch yet.
What were some of the challenges you faced starting the store? Or are there any in particular that you’re proud of overcoming?
The biggest challenges when starting out came from entering the world of owning and running your own business. Having to learn through trial and error and making plenty of mistakes to figure out what really works. Not to mention some massive earthquakes destroying our first store, reopening our second store 7 months later within a red zoned central city and figuring out how to grow our business as part of a city that was literally rebuilding itself from the ground up.
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We have definitely had challenges but looking back building a business that is now 10 years old through these challenges is definitely something we are proud of.
So Infinite Definite is turning ten years old! How does it feel to see something you’ve created grow to reach such a milestone?
It definitely makes you look back and think about all the people that have been part of our 10 year journey. We feel very lucky to have had so many rad people involved at Inf Def, both staff, other local businesses, customers and our different designers. It also inspires you to keep on creating.
The landscape of retail has changed now that e-commerce and online shopping is growing rapidly. How do you as a business owner who’s seen these changes happen, adapt and respond?
Yes e-commerce has created a huge change in retail. 10 years ago e-commerce was there and already growing rapidly but over our 10 years of business it has completely changed the industry.
While there are definitely negative changes, a lot of the changes are really positive changes and we now have the ability to sell to customers all over the world so our local and loyal customer base has expanded outside of our own city. We now have Inf Def regulars all over the world. Another positive in my opinion is the effect online shopping has on the physical retail space of brick and mortar stores.
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You can’t just rely on having good brands in a store anymore. You have to create a dynamic and engaging retail environment for customers to interact with and enjoy, you have to have the best customer service and you have to focus on conveying what your own brand is all about.
So for us adapting has really been about constantly pushing what we do creatively in both the digital realm and within our own brick and mortar store.
Being located in Christchurch you guys get involved heavily with the local culture and community, what’s the overall fashion and creative scene like down there?
That’s the great thing about having a physical store in the central city. You engage with so many different people all the time. We have always engaged heavily with other local businesses and creatives that’s the best bit of the job, doing rad stuff with rad people. I think post earthquakes in Christchurch it forced people to decide ‘do I want to be part of recreating this city and participate or not’. The great thing that came from that was a whole heap of people just getting stuck in and giving it a go.
What are some of your hobbies outside of the business? And how important is work life balance to you?
Work life balance is always a battle when you have your own business but Sarah and I have two boys now so I’m definitely always trying to find more time to hang with them which is rad. I guess if you’re a creative it’s always hard to fully separate yourself from your work. For me making things is a big outlet, that’s my main hobby, whether its renovating our house or making fixtures for the shop. Lately I have been spending a lot of those small windows of spare time designing furniture. So I hope to free myself up a bit more next year to start making some of the designs I have been working on.
For a lot of our younger readers who are into fashion, retail and streetwear what advice would you give them if they wanted to start not just a store but something of their own
Start making things and experiment, push yourself to understand how things are made so you can understand how to make yours better. Don’t just replicate what’s already out there, make something new.
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Photos: Naomi Haussman