Deadly Ponies is the brainchild of New Zealand designer Liam Bowden; a celebrated collaboration between himself and husband Steven Boyd. In 2009, Liam met Steve and the pair hit it off immediately. A decade later, they are partners in life and in business, running Deadly Ponies. A brand built on family, creativity and transparency.
The pair are very in sync, which is what makes our business work so well. When asked what the most enjoyable part of their journey has been to date, they say it is the people that work with them. They remember the fun times with staff more than anything else. And with these guys at the helm... Deadly Ponies has real heart.
Founded in 2005, Deadly Ponies is a New Zealand based, internationally renowned luxury leather accessories brand with a proclivity for sumptuous design and innovation. Soft, buttery leathers in an array of hues coexist with unexpected shapes and textures. With boutique manufacturing and ethical sourcing at the core of our ethos, each piece is artisanally handcrafted through a considered lens.
From humble beginnings, Liam began making one-off leather pieces in his garage from local tannery off-cuts. Self-taught in pattern construction, sewing and finishing, his skills have grown organically, creating beautiful, handcrafted products that challenge the traditional notions of design. Our journey to where we are today has been an exciting one, but not one without hurdles.
After the dissolution of the leather industry in New Zealand, we were faced with two choices. Go it alone, or engage with offshore producers. With a traditional off-shore production model not aligning with our values, coupled with a desire not to fall into a mass-producing model restricted by minimum order quantities, and having no power to influence environmental change, we knew that we needed to do things differently; not just for ourselves, but for other small businesses facing the same barriers.
Not willing to compromise on our ethical and transparent ethos, owning our own atelier has been a long term ambition. In early 2020, despite all the madness in the world, we achieved that dream.
And with that, the next stage in our journey has just begun.
COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, INCLUSION & EQUALITY
With an ongoing commitment to celebrating diversity, inclusion & equality across Deadly Ponies, we are currently working towards a framework to incorporate, with a particular focus on ensuring the full scope of diversity and inclusion is considered.
For us, equality is central to what we do. We believe that every person deserves the right to equal opportunities, safe and healthy working conditions, and at the minimum the right to earn a living wage. We proudly pay all of our employees across every function of Deadly Ponies a living wage and are currently working towards accreditation by December 2020.
Family is a core value that we have built Deadly Ponies on from the very beginning, considering our responsibility across three key pillars; People, Planet and Prosperity. People being the first for a reason. In support of this, we have challenged ourselves to do more to for diversity and inclusion across our company, beyond the strength that already exists for gender representation and LGBTQI+.
We also pledge to form a partnership with community organisations that share our personal commitment to supporting queer, gender diverse, takatāpui & intersex youth; and their friends, whānau and wider communities, in order to ensure that New Zealand is a place where all young people can thrive.
Deadly Ponies have always worked closely with the local arts community - particularly female-identifying and LGBTQI+ creatives, but want to use our platform to ensure diverse creatives are seen and heard too. We will be sharing work on a regular basis as part of our inspiration, along with commissioning and working alongside diverse creatives throughout our collections, store designs, and creative content.
We have been working to drive the evolution of the fashion industry from our small corner of the world. With boutique brands facing an uphill battle trying to influence large manufacturers to deliver on their environmental promises, we took matters into our own hands.
Our atelier is made up of a small team of 30 artisans, who have been trained in french leatherworking techniques to the highest standards. Our skilled makers comprise of pattern makers, leather cutters, stitchers, painters and finishers, each with their own unique talents. Bringing our designs to life, each Deadly Ponies product is handcrafted at every stage of the process - a true labour of love.
As an extension to our New Zealand based family, our atelier team are led by our Head of Production. Having a member of our leadership team onsite means that we have direct oversight of production, culture and engagement of the team, and can ensure that our values are implemented across the business.
We truly value our incredible team, and ensure that they are provided with safe and healthy working conditions. Our team works in a beautiful, new, custom-built facility based in the mountainous region of Chiang Mai, Thailand - including the development of gardens and an orchard.
That kindness extends to our people as well as our planet. From this year, a percentage of profits from our atelier goes to community enrichment programmes aimed at supporting and improving the wellbeing of our wider Deadly Ponies family. Find out more here.
Along with our own atelier, we prioritise working with suppliers and manufacturers who reflect our high ethical and sustainable values as a business. Accreditations we look for are:
BSCI/SEDEX are systems meant to make supply chains more transparent and fair, through the adherence of 11 core principles; with a primary focus on worker and environmental protection. More information can be found here.
ISO 9001:2015 is a quality management process ensuring continual improvement and demonstrating the consistent ability to provide products and services to meet customer and regulatory requirements. We actively work with suppliers with this accreditation or equivalent and are currently applying for certification at our atelier. More information can be found here.
Leather Working Group (LWG), with Gold Standard certification. LWG is an independent group of tanneries and footwear brands that have established a protocol to assess the environmental performance of tanneries and to promote sustainable and appropriate environmental practices within the leather tanning industry. More information can be found here.
REACH is a regulation adopted to improve the protection of both people and the environment from hazardous chemicals. More information can be found here.
We work closely with a select few suppliers across the world to craft the highest quality, sustainably sourced and ethical products our customers know and love. In full support of the live animal trade ban in New Zealand in 2003, we only work with the exporting and importing of raw materials to ensure animal welfare is prioritised.
With the dissolution of New Zealand Light Leathers, we had to look elsewhere to tan our signature Deer Nappa. Not willing to compromise on our values, we worked closely with a specialist tannery to meet our Supplier Code of Conduct, and to ensure they held recognised quality accreditations. We regularly audit our suppliers and have close working relations with them to ensure our values continually align. Our suppliers must sign our Supplier Code of Conduct, and regularly undergo auditing to ensure that they adhere to our values and transparent ethos.
Our hides are tanned in the below locations, and can be traced back to the source farm. Find out more about our materials.
Our custom textures such as our croc-embossed, lizard-embossed and python-effect leathers are tanned, textured and hand-painted at our Italian supplier, with Bronze Leather Working Group accreditation.
Our luxurious Shearling; crafted from lamb leather, is tanned in Spain with Silver Leather Working Group accreditation, 100% traceability, and in a facility powered by solar panels and a bio-fuel reactor - not unlike our own atelier.
Our Pony Rider Bulle lamb leather is tanned at a small french supplier, using vegetable dyes with little to no chromium.
Our supplier in India tans our NZ Merino lamb, and Indian Capra Goat leathers, with Gold Leather Working Group certification using only vegetable dyes.
Our Chinese tannery has Gold Leather Working Group Certification, and tan our Bovine and Deer Nappa hides.
We work with local and global suppliers to ensure our materials are ethically source, sustainable and the highest quality.