Meet our Friday Muse, Natalie Procter of Mina the label

15 June 2023
By Fashion Quarterly

Meet Natalie Procter, the local designer and director making waves in the fashion industry with her seasonless capsule collections.

Natalie Procter portrait.
Natalie Procter.

Natalie Procter, designer and director of Mina, founded her values-led label after a six-week ‘seed-to-garment’ trip to India. Inspired by the artisans she met during her sojourn, Procter sought to build a brand that values people at the centre. Five years on, this ethos is just as clear today as it was when Mina was founded. Using locally-sourced deadstock fabrics, and working closely with a dedicated team of cutters and sewers in Tamaki Makaurau, Mina prioritises strong relationships and quality above all else. Now, with a studio store based in Grey Lynn, the brand is building a committed customer base with its timeless and fuss-free designs.

Procter’s passion for fashion and design took root at an early age, nurtured by the skills and talents of her mother and grandmother. “I’m the third generation from a family of craftswomen,” she explains. “My grandmother Wilhelmina (where ‘Mina’ comes from) was taught to sew by her mother. She then taught my mum Michelle how to sew, mend, knit, embroider, potter and mosaic – the list goes on!” As she recounts memories of her mother making her outfits for themed dress-ups during her school years, Procter believes that it was only natural that she would pursue a creative path. 

Mina AW23.
Mina's Grey Lynn store.
Mina AW23.

Though she initially went to Massey University in Pōneke/ Wellington to study photography, the founder quickly turned her focus towards making clothes, choosing to switch her degree to Fashion Design. “After a few visits to the fashion building for some of my papers, the hecticness of moodboards, fabrics, and the sound of steam presses and sewing machines drew me in,” she says. Though her degree may not have directly contributed to her business acumen, Procter attributes her strong work ethic to her years of studying. “I can reflect on how naive I was moving into this industry, but I think that naivety is what has helped me to build [Mina] from the bottom and learn along the way.” 

When Procter made the leap to officially start Mina, her mother Michelle was by her side, acting as a second pair of hands sewing and pattern-making. Initially they thought that this collaboration would be a temporary arrangement to get the brand off the ground, the pair would soon form a proper working relationship, with Procter assuming the roles of director and designer and her mother managing the production side. “I remind myself daily how lucky I am to work alongside my mum. I’ve inherited [her] ‘get s*** done’ mentality so we’re a pretty productive duo,” she explains. “We both learn from one another and our skills complement Mina nicely. My grandmother (mum’s mum), Wilhelmina, would be very proud of us I think.” 

Though it hasn’t been completely smooth sailing for the brand, having only been running for two years when COVID-19 hit, one of Procter’s most significant achievements was hiring a few employees once the brand had grown a bit. “To be able to have an amazing team working alongside me is something I never dreamed of. I thought it would just be Mum and I for forever,” she says. Proctor’s team remains small but Mina’s commitment to conscious production and consumption means that they only release a limited number of capsules per year, ensuring that her employees can keep up with production demands. 

Mina AW23.
Mina AW23.

In her latest endeavour, Procter relocated to Mount Maunganui with her partner, relishing the opportunity to reside by the beach.“It’s been a really nice change of pace and I can already see how this transition in my lifestyle will and continue to influence my brand and design,” says the designer. While maintaining a strong commitment to Mina, Procter makes a weekly commute from Tauranga to Auckland, ensuring her continued involvement and focus on the brand. 

When questioned about what lies ahead for the brand in the upcoming months, Procter acknowledged the dynamic nature of the current climate: “There’s so much going on here in New Zealand that it feels ever changing. What once was a very clear path is now ever-evolving,” she says. “Listening to our customers, learning from every collection and being open to new ideas is where our focus is right now.”

Mina AW23.
Mina AW23.

Quickfire Questions:

Inside my handbag you will find…

  • Abel Perfume Green Cedar – I’m definitely a fragrance person and I find Abel’s nice and soft so I can spray a few times throughout the day. 
  • Tiny fabric cuttings from the next collection so I can design between Mount Maunganui which is my home) and Auckland (where Mina HQ and store is based).
  • Brazil nuts (my two a day for selenium)
  • 3+ pairs of sunglasses, an outfit is not complete without some shades. I have my Auor pair on repeat as the girls have recently closed down. 

Last TV show I binged… The Diplomat – required all of my focus (no phone scrolling) but loved it.  

My favourite place to travel to… The beach. Whether that’s the one next to our house here in the Mount or our family bach in the Coromandel that I love to get away to, to switch off and relax. 

Hometown’s best-kept secret… Try It Out – Best Authentic Vietnamese in Otahuhu. The Beef Pho in winter is a must.

Current season homeware purchase… I just bought a set of vintage smoked glasses from Lara at Re:Home Studio which I love. Perfect water or wine glasses.

My style icon is…Too much pressure to choose a ‘icon’ but currently loving Fanny Ekstrand Tourneur. I love her play with colour in contrast with boxy silhouettes and masculine suiting. 

My favourite place to dine… Gemmayze Street in St Kevins Arcade on K Road. Such delicious Lebanese food. Flat Bread, Hummus Khyar (Cucumber) and a Chicken Shish. Simple food but amazing flavours, and always a good atmosphere in the evening. 

Three items I would take to a desert island…

  • Can I bring a friend or my boyfriend? I do not enjoy my own company…
  • My skincare which includes my LED face light – ooh, and sunscreen and a sunhat!
  • Peanut Butter – one of nature’s greatest gifts.

Shop Mina’s AW23 collection online now.

Images: supplied.


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