Social enterprise Great Full launches limited-edition designer onesies – by the likes of Zambesi, Trelise Cooper – for its first charity initiative


Fashion designer Elisabeth Findlay of Zambesi poses in her own Great Full print.

Twenty-one designers have aligned with Great Full for its first charity initiative. The founder of the social enterprise, Melissa Gardi, explains why community matters.

Words: Melissa Gardi

Great Full is a new social enterprise where creatives and artists collaborate to raise funds for a charity. Founder Melissa Gardi talks about Great Full’s first initiative, a baby onesie featuring prints from New Zealand fashion designers.

When I first moved to New Zealand from New York City in 2002, I knew no one other than my then-boyfriend Dino (now my husband). Even though people spoke the same language, I was like I was from a different planet. And I felt very alone.

Within the first week, I met my husband’s best friend’s family. His friend’s dad married us, and 15 years later, on his Wellsford farm, led the naming ceremony for our daughter, Isabella. I now refer to a colleague I met at my first job in Auckland as my surrogate mum; last year we celebrated her 70th birthday on Waiheke Island. I met some of my best friends – those with whom I share my greatest joys and darkest fears – at work.

More recently, since I’ve had my daughter, daily highlights often come from sharing jokes with another mum during day-care drop-offs. Once a month, one of my husband’s past high-school students (now an Air New Zealand flight attendant) looks after Isabella, who’s now three, for a few hours to give us our date night. I still send my IVF nurse photos of Isabella as she grows up.

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My sense of community, while growing up on the east coast of the United States, meant neighbourhood-block parties and summer carpools to the beach. Children walked to school together and played in each other’s yards; neighbours exchanged seasonal jams and their garden best. Since first touching down in New Zealand, my sense of community has extended well beyond my neighbourhood of the US.

Melissa Gardi, founder of Great Full.

It’s evolved to how people look after each other; a symbol of togetherness be it with neighbours or strangers. From the healthcare system to youth-outreach programmes, it’s about social responsibility. Life can be incredibly busy, chaotic and stressful, which is why it’s important to have a community upon which to trust and rely.

We all look for a sense of community. Be it where we live, where we work, where we choose to spend our free time; be it in the real world or on our favourite social-media platforms. Our community consists of people we genuinely care about – those worthy of our consideration and attention, of time and resources. Or our community may simply be those with whom we exchange friendly hellos.

Fashion designer Trelise Cooper wanted to make a print that was a little bit fun and a little bit humorous.

It was my gratitude for living in Aotearoa, and all that my New Zealand community entails, that contributed to why I started Great Full – a way to give back.

Great Full is a not-for-profit framework in which leaders within a particular creative sector of New Zealand collaborate in the creation of a limited-edition collection of goods. From design to materials and manufacturing, the product within the collection is produced sustainably in New Zealand, and 100 per cent of proceeds are donated to charity.

The Zambesi print started off as a postcard, then a wrapping paper, then a linen print in Zambesi’s summer collection.

Every few months, a new limited-edition collection is made with different collaborators, aligned with an appropriate cause. All collections are available via greatfull.co.nz, where those involved in each project share their ideas and inspiration. At greatfull.co.nz, people can learn about the cause and see the purpose each project serves.

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Great Full’s first collaboration is a baby onesie, featuring prints by some of New Zealand’s best designers, including Juliette Hogan, Nom.D, twenty-seven names, Trelise Cooper and Zambesi. In soft organic cotton, the onesies are made in New Zealand. The entire collection is mindfully made, right down to the delivery – the onesies are packaged in plant-based, home-compostable materials.

By purchasing, you’re supporting the Starship Foundation, which is dedicated to bettering children’s health.

We are all grateful for various things – grateful for our health, our families and friends, our homes, our lives, for living in New Zealand. And we are great full, a country brimming with talented creatives – makers and artists; designers and builders; scientists and engineers; organizations and businesses.

Great Full brings the community together to do great things – where you can buy something purposeful, something that will bring you joy, while also knowing you are giving back and helping a great cause.

I believe that practising gratitude, such as mindfulness, ethical shopping and intentional living, develops differently for each individual and, in various capacities; often with small changes or baby steps forward.

Great Full propels me forward with a sense of purpose.

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