father rabbit

A tasteful curation: Father Rabbit Select’s Claudia Zinzan

Father Rabbit Select is a place where design and minimalist aesthetics come to life in the form of a highly considered collection of everyday essentials, from homewares to apparel. Zara Overton spoke with co-founder Claudia Zinzan to learn more about the concept store and its fashion focused offering.

N. Tell us about your background and what led you to start Father Rabbit.

CLAUDIA. I studied interior design at university which became the foundation of my career direction. Since graduating, I have always had my own business. In my twenties, I started an interior design practice and a boutique t-shirt label but when my son was born, Nick and I decided that we wanted to have our own brand that we could both work on together. Father Rabbit was a very quiet start – with a little online store operating out of our then, Grey Lynn home.

N. More recently you’ve expanded your store presence, opening Father Rabbit Select in Newmarket. How does this store differ to Father Rabbit?

C. Father Rabbit Select is our first dedicated fashion and beauty destination. Grounded in the vision to offer the foundations for a functional wardrobe, we choose pieces from a curation of mindful local and international brands
that transcend seasons and can be worn for years to come. Like Father Rabbit stores are for your home, you can walk into Select and find the essential pieces for everyday dressing.

N. Where did the name Father Rabbit come from?
C. I’ve always held the belief that you should make a name easy to remember. I was called Rabbit as a kid with my buck teeth and after a silly night out with friends at restaurant Au Père Lapin in Paris, they started calling me Father Rabbit. So, I thought Father Rabbit’s General Store had a memorable ring to it and conjured up the nostalgic feeling we wanted.

N. How would you describe your individual style?
C. Pretty understated. I’m not really a loud dresser. I dress for comfort and really only dress up for special occasions. The reality of my work is that I move from store to warehouse and need to be practical. My go-to is denim jeans, a black tee, blazer, and sneakers.

N. The items found in your stores lend themselves well to everyday simplicity and wearability. Do you subscribe to this ‘less is more’ approach to life and style?

C. I wear the same thing over and over if I love it. I have found that
as I get older, I would prefer to pay for quality and feel safe in the knowledge that it will last beyond a few seasons.

N. You stock a curated selection of designers such as Anna Quan, Elka Collective and Jac + Jack. What processes do you undertake when deciding on which brands to add to your stable? How do you discover them?

C. If I’m honest, I spend a lot of time on social media finding brands.
You quickly grasp whether a brand holds the same values of quality, simple and inclusive design through the content they upload. We then view and try on samples, check the quality, fabrics and fit. We truly think about our different customers and what they would like to see at different ages and stages – this feedback comes from our store managers, head office staff and often directly from our customers.

N. Have you always been passionate about interiors?
C. Always. I feel pure joy when rearranging or selecting pieces for an interior. If I could do both, I would continue my interior design alongside running Father Rabbit!

N. The Newmarket store is incredibly light and calming, how did you decide on your Newmarket space?
C. I’m a big fan of the Osborne Lane group of stores. Being situated next to complementing neighbours, especially a successful cafe, is one of the key reasons that customers will choose to shop with you. They feel like they can tick a lot of boxes in the one area. I have adored the space for years, first and foremost for the natural light that streams through the two large display windows. The space also had beautiful original features, so we didn’t need to make large or structural changes. I have chosen a natural palette of bone-coloured whites and beige, french greys and dusky pale eggshell blues, plus a central counter in a gorgeous dark seaweed green. All of the beautiful colours are from Aalto Colour.

N. Launching a new store in the time of COVID must have been challenging. How did you manage through this?
C. It seemed super risky at the time but I always trust my gut, and it felt right. We were confident knowing that wardrobe had been our biggest category at Father Rabbit and we needed a space that was dedicated to showcasing the category alongside beauty. Luckily, we had a really supportive landlord and time would soon show that Kiwis would be looking to support local, more than ever.

N. Favourite piece instore at the moment?
C. The Claude Blazer from Worn Store and the Amalia Dress from Anna Quan. Both classic, elegant, and easy wearing, just perfect!

N. What has been your best fashion investment?

C. My Jac + Jack cashmere jumper. Cashmere is a fabric that makes you feel warm, cosy, and good all year long. This makes it worth every dollar and more!

N. And your worst?
C. My worst is generally when I haven’t tried something on and choose from a catalogue. I don’t have a “sample size” body and I often get caught out.

N. What is one lesson your business has taught you about life?
C. That it’s okay to be in beta mode. Being in beta mode means you’re focusing on progress not perfection. Focusing on perfection means you’ll perpetually be disappointed rather than living in the moment and enjoying the present.

N. What advice would you give someone who was looking at decorating a room in their home?
C. If you’re unsure, hire someone to help with the big decisions – as the big ones aren’t easily undone. It can be a really daunting task if you don’t have a clear vision so if you’re undertaking a room decoration yourself, ensure to create moodboards. Place every colour and object you want in the room onto it. You’ll quickly see where things don’t work or fit.

N. Has your customer base changed since Father Rabbit’s inception?
C. We have kept our original customers and as the brand expanded with Father Rabbit Select, our Newmarket store, we have a wider customer base more interested in fashion than interiors.

N. Where do you look to for inspiration?
C. Art and graphic design is where I find inspiration for colour and trends. I keep an eye on street fashion in the big cities as this is where you will see people in their ‘go-to’ outfits that they wear most days. I also look to our designers that are so clever at their craft.

N. Favourite podcasts?
C. I’m a huge fan of The Detail on Radio New Zealand. It’s impactful, relevant and offers a wider view on some of the bigger stories affecting the country.

N. Where would we find you on a typical Sunday morning?
C. Scrolling through TikTok.

N. The rise of social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest has given individuals a platform which they are able to look to for inspiration and as an outlet for creativity. What impact has social media had on Father Rabbit?
C. We’ve always valued and embraced the power of social media, as it’s been crucial for the growth of Father Rabbit. For us, we use it to connect with our audience and showcase new collections. We love hearing from customers and seeing how they’ve incorporated the Father Rabbit aesthetic into their homes and wardrobes.

N. Where do you look to for inspiration?
C. Art and graphic design is where I find inspiration for colour and trends. I keep an eye on street fashion in the big cities as this is where you will see people in their ‘go-to’ outfits that they wear most days. I also look to our designers that are so clever at their craft.

N. What does 2021 hold for the brand?
C. We will give the interior design and branding for the stores a bit of a refresh. And there will be new brands and new ranges to showcase. If allowed, we will be heading to Australia for viewings. And we will keep delivering on our promise of curated, well-designed and thoughtful items for your home and wardrobe, that you will love for many years to come.



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