Florence & Fortitude was founded to celebrate life beauty in all its forms. Starting as a blog with both inspirational mood boards and personal style posts our focus was fashion, motivational quotes and awe-inspiring art from around the world. With the belief that such things can lift one’s spirit, empower, calm and inspire oneself to dream and dream bigger we hoped that whilst only a small blog our content could make a positive impact on someone’s day.
This has certainly run true for us personally. Whilst to the outside world our blog looked like just a creative project between two sisters the catalyst behind its creation and its huge significance to us runs much deeper.
Anna, having struggled with chronic illness for over 20 years saw her health deteriorate to such a low that she became essentially bedridden. Although from a very young age she had learnt to modify her life to work in with her bodies limitations and had always been determined not to let her illnesses define her or prevent her from fulfilling her dreams it became a complete impossibility to function normally. For 5 years Anna saw the life she had worked so hard to build fall completely apart. Through a period which is often deemed the best years of your youth she experienced physical pain she never knew was possible and found out that there are multiple levels to rock bottom, each worse than the last. However always one to find the silver lining even in the darkest cloud she clung to her faith determined to walk through the storm coming out the other side a better and stronger person.
This is how Florence & Fortitude was truly formed.
With Elizabeth bearing witness to her beloved sister becoming more and more unwell Anna was not alone in her need for something positive and uplifting. Inspirational words and beautiful imagery thus became our soul food and the personal style posts and Fashion Week events took Anna out of her reality, even for a short while. With photoshoots and attending runway shows consisting of Annas makeup being done by Elizabeth whilst she was in bed, to having only a very small window in which Anna could physically cope with to get the shot or attend a show it was a very rushed and strained process often resulting in huge recovery periods and much delayed posts. However the benefits of Anna being able to connect with the outside world and see herself as appearing healthy and normal were huge, not to mention it was a true family affair with our mum being the photographer frantically snapping away as well as the driver circling the block at Fashion Weeks providing immediate pickups and emergency cover.
Whilst we have kept Annas illness private during her struggle so as to preserve the blog as a space untouched by her true reality the name Florence & Fortitude symbolised her and Elizabeth’s fortitude along with the all the other women in her family – past and present. As to the ‘Florence’ part of our name, this was out great-grandmothers first name who in Victorian times was a talented seamstress and stylish in her own right.
Who would have known the true significance of attaching her name to our blog given the current change in direction of our vision? Having grown up in our mother’s perfumery, cosmetic and accessory store and having spent countless hours dressing up in her Miss New Zealand gowns it was inevitable that fashion would play a big part in our lives. Whilst we have always designed clothes for ourselves and hoped to one day create a fashion label this was put to the back of our minds to pursue our legal careers. Years at law school and our legal careers that followed we continue to remain passionate about the law yet with Annas most recent health struggles life has taken a different direction. Having spent years merely surviving whilst life passed us by we now realise life is too short to put dreams on hold and with Annas health now essentially being fully restored we no longer have to do such things.
Thus the transformation of Florence & Fortitude-The Blog, to Florence & Fortitude-The Label!
Carrying with us the theme of our blog our label is designed for women who are not only strong and have a vivacious spirit but like to stand out in a crowd showcasing their individuality. Not only pieces to live your life in but our label adds an extra significance with the heart of each collection being embroidery taking the motivational words used in our blog to the next level. As Bill Cunningham said, ‘fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life’ and by incorporating words of strength, hope, love and sense of self into our garments we have provided another layer of protection to those who wear them. Sometimes all you need is something small to uplift your spirits and our embroidery whether it be on a coat, skirt or cuff of a shirt is there to be a source of inspiration allowing you to carry your own personal mood board with you wherever you go. Every woman is beautifully unique and to celebrate this we also customise pieces allowing you to put your own mark on that which you wear.
Having a keen passion for sustainability our label is not only 100% New Zealand made but our vintage collection of reworked embroidered piece gives previously loved fashion a second life.
Florence & Fortitude hopes to empower women, spreading positivity with a dash of fun.
For us Florence & Fortitude – The Label is a way to turn our scars into something beautiful. We hope you will join us in our new journey and that you to will become part of the Fortitude.
Elizabeth and Anna xx