One-on-one with Mara Kosac, founder of Kiwi activewear business Oneone.
Most creatives and entrepreneurs simply don’t have time to put their lives on hold to study.
Talented graphic designer and fashion-brand owner, Mara Kosac, is no exception.
Mara is the director of Oneone, a growing activewear business that specialises in mountain biking gear featuring designs inspired by Aotearoa’s unique flora and fauna.
When her first designs sold out soon after she launched her brand, Mara realised that it was time for some formal training in business. She enrolled in the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Introduction to Small Business) with Toi-Ohomai, choosing to study on eCampus NZ so she could fit her study around her busy life.
Model: Melanie Blomfield and Photographer: Richard Goldsbury
But how did it all begin?
Oneone is an amalgam of Mara’s diverse passions and interests.
An experienced graphic designer, Mara found inspiration in the native birds in her area during the March lockdown in 2020 and began turning them into eye-catching designs.
Oneone ultralight Pukeko ladies mountain-biking shorts. Photographer: Jamie Garrod
“When I moved to Rotorua from a big city – Buenos Aires – I fell in love with the lifestyle, the nature and the outdoors. I also love how New Zealanders are so appreciative of the native flora and fauna,” she said.
“I live in a place with a lot of native birds so I started drawing the ones I could see, and when I ran out of those, I started researching others,” she said.
After creating eye-catching designs that were perfect for fabric, Mara had to choose what kind of garments she would make. The decision was an easy one for the keen mountain-biker.
“I’ve always struggled to find mountain biking gear that’s small enough to fit me and comes in interesting designs – the clothing I’ve seen often black or grey,” she said.
Mara hired a pattern designer, got a sample pair of bike shorts made and organised the production of 100 pairs featuring ten of her prints.
She set up a website and promoted the shorts on social media. She also began sponsoring women’s mountain bike races and social media influences.
Her designs were an immediate hit. She even sold a number of pairs to passing bikers when she was doing a photoshoot for her website.
“I ran out of stock in a month,” she said.
This was when Mara decided to study towards the New Zealand Certificate in Business (Introduction to Small Business).
“When I was ordering my second batch, I realised that I didn’t know how much stock I should order or how business accounting worked,” she said.
“I decided to study. Of course, the only option I had was to do it online, as between my work and the business, I don’t have enough time to go to school,” she said.
Studying has helped Mara to develop her ideas about where she wants to take her business in the future.
“It’s helping me a lot in different ways. For example, there’s a whole section on business goals. That was awesome because I could set a few goals for the business,” she said.
“In the short term, I’d like to automate my systems and processes, like digital marketing, so I can leave the business to someone when I take a break,” she said.
“I’d also like to keep expanding my range of gear. Now I’m making long sleeved tees and socks as well as shorts, and I’d love to do gloves and a jacket,” she said.
Oneone limited edition long sleeve tee, made in partnership with New Zealand Mountain Biking.
Mara is modest about her achievements but admits that she’s pleased with how Oneone is going so far.
“I’m happy with how business is going, for sure!” she said.
If you’re interested in picking up some Oneone gear for yourself, visit https://oneonenz.com/
If you’re interested in starting your own small business and want to set yourself up for success, check out our range of online qualifications in small business.
Business Name: Oneone
Director: Mara Kosac
Based in: Rotorua
Company Type: Activewear