About Us - Our Story
Way back in 2002, when the grass was greener and the sun was warmer, Billi Richmond had a neat idea……she wanted to adorn her mate Sam with a t-shirt to celebrate the tin pot town he came from. A month later Billi met Jasmine, a dab hand at graphic design, and so it began. Their first design ‘Pukekohe – burn the dirt' was born on a slightly hungover Sunday afternoon.
Unaided by anything sensible like a business plan, Billi and Jasmine launched themselves into the commercial world and Billi Tees was born. Instantly they were drawn to the idea of an online store, so Kiwis anywhere in the world could get their own slice of home at the click of the mouse.
Being on opposite sides of the world for the next two years didn’t dampen their enthusiasm for their dream to create unique kiwi tees to the world.
The next few years whizzed by in a flurry of internet orders, babies arriving (two), new designs, Sam running off to sea (with him being in the Navy, it was kind of called for) and growing production orders. There was also a move to the mighty metropolis of Bulls, where Billi Tees finally left the spare room and moved into proper premises, ready to take on the big guns of the tee shirt world.
Jasmine returned to New Zealand in late 2006 and settled in Wellington. Finally she and Billi were in the same hemisphere and the same time zone. It didn’t matter a hoot that Bulls was separated from Wellington by a two-hour drive.
Everything was tootling along nicely when Sam decided it was time for a Billi Tees retail store, right in the throbbing heart of Bulls. Six weeks and a flurry of DIY later, the ever-so-funky Billi Tees flagship store was open, with newcomer Pauline on board to run it.
With Bulls charging along, the girls decided to open another shop in Tirau. Why Tirau? Well, just like Bulls, it’s on the way to major tourist destinations and a good stopping spot for travellers. By October 2008 Billi Tees had two shops and eight staff...a burgeoning empire!
Since the 2009 global economic crisis the girls have had babies and moved afield letting the new blood take the brand in another direction.
When apparel entrepreneur Charlie Carter-Johnson tapped Billi and Jasmine on the collective shoulder in 2009, pointing out the value of the Billi Tees brand, it was time to kick the business up a notch.
Charlie joined the partnership and is now helping Billi Tees to grow in a new, diverse direction.
The Billi brand has expanded into merino, organic cotton, clothes for kids and babies. And the online store has become a place to buy a bunch of world-famous brands, including Levis, Timberland. McKinlays and Benetton.
Billi Tees is all about the best quality, NZ made, eco-friendly apparel.
We use Levana merino and cotton which comes from Levin, New Zealand's textile town. The wool is spun and woven in environmentally friendly conditions. All the water Levana use in the processing of their fabrics comes exclusively from the underground water tables of the Tararua Ranges. Having been naturally filtered through the mountains for hundreds of years, it's 100% chemical free. Also Levana is an Invista accredited mill, and is also proudly ISO 9001 certified - an international qualification awarded to companies who meet strict Quality Management System criteria. We aim to only use the best textiles made in NZ from progressive environmentally sustainable businesses.
New graduate Ren Taylor is the designer in chief since 2013 who has brought a new artistic sentiment to designs. Nowadays Billi Tees is investigating new styles and new ways to bring unique kiwi made and quality classics to kiwis everywhere. With a solid business model Billi is forging a new model for online retailing, and constantly evolving to meet the market. Literally, as you will find us selling samples and special stuff at the Coatsville and Matakana markets north of Auckland. Come down and chat!
Billi Tees is a small family operation working out of a warehouse in Henderson. We want to bring high quality, individually made basics to kiwi's. At remarkably low price point. We make what you can't find anywhere else and need. It’s good for the country AND the people.
That's Ren and Dayna doing a fit session and a photoshoot
That's Jin doing the hard work in our Henderson warehouse
We love to hear from people that wear our gear so tell us your story