Māori-owned dress rental business empowering wāhine

updated By Jessica Tyson

Kahu Henare is the creator and founder of One Fit Hire, a dress rental business providing wāhine of all shapes and sizes with a unique look which caters for their own body types.

One Fit provides designs ranging in sizes from six to 26 and is based in Auckland. Henare started the business in 2018 after she visited another dress rental business and could not find a dress in her size.

“I found from that experience it really downed my confidence. I think we all know when we’re wearing something that we feel comfortable in and look good in, you just feel way better. You embody the dress. So I thought if I’m experiencing this sort of thing then other people are as well.”

Henare says the most rewarding aspect of running One Fit is seeing wāhine look and feel good in the dresses.

“When I first started it, I noticed that a lot of girls would come in really whakamā, not really wanting to show me what they’re wearing or just close off.  And then once I saw the girls over the years open up, once they’ve tried that dress on, it just made me realise how important it is to have that self-confidence and self-belief in what you’re wearing,” she says.

“In terms of mental health, it’s just so important to remember that everyone’s different and mental health doesn’t discriminate and neither should fashion. I think having a really big size range caters to that.”

One Fit model Rebecca Stowers says she loves being a part of the business.

“There’s something about it having a deeper meaning, that it’s not just fixing on what society thinks on the certain sizes, she says.

“It’s nice that I can finally find something that has sizes not only for me but my friends who are plus size. So it’s amazing and I’m so proud to be modelling for this brand.”

Avoka Faualo is also a model and loves how the business empowers wāhine.

“I’ve seen so many girls who pop by and they just feel so beautiful, and they look beautiful and they just radiate it. So seeing them be so confident and loving themselves is such a beautiful thing.”

Stowers says Henare’s personality is what brings first-time customers back.

“Someone’s personality is so important because it shows through their business and it really does show through Kahu. Her beautiful vibe she brings comes through with her business and I think that’s why there are so many people coming back. It's just because she’s so homely with everyone that she welcomes to her house to come get the dresses.”

Henare says 99 percent of her customers come through the business’ Instagram page that has more than 6,000 followers. As well as running the business, she studies occupational therapy at AUT University and works at Tiaho Mai Mental Health Inpatient Unit at Middlemore Hospital in the psychiatric ward.

“When you have a passion for something nothing is really work, or you don’t really find anything to be mahi. And because I’m passionate about our people's mental health especially and obviously fashion, just being inclusive is really important and making sure no one is left behind,” she says.