It would be an injustice to this article if we didn’t firstly touch upon the recent atrocity in New Zealand. An assault on this peaceful land and its people. Designer, founder of Carbon Soldier and New Zealand native Barbara McCamish was away in Hong Kong when the shootings took place, but in her own words ‘no matter where it happens in the world I think we all feel it’.

The week prior Barbara’s daughter was delighted to see Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, her husband and baby in their local cafe on a Sunday morning. There are not many countries in the world where you would see that – a testament to New Zealand’s friendly and down-to-earth people. New Zealand is of course also famed for its stunning natural environment, we talk New Zealand nature with Barbara and the influence it has on a creative and family life.

Carbon Soldier founder Barbara McCamish
Carbon Soldier – founder Barbara McCamish granddaughter in arms.

Growing up what role did nature play in your childhood?
I was fortunate that my parents were adventurous! Throughout the years we lived on the beachfront, had farms with pet horses, chickens, goats, sheep and cows, a house on a small Island, and owned a flotilla of boats. We were definitely free-range children, making our own fun in creeks and tunnel filled mountains, only coming home when the sun went down.

What do you feel our role is in protecting nature…
…as a label? We strive to produce garments that are timeless in design and of the highest quality, so they can be passed down to siblings and hopefully future generations, therefore using fewer resources. I hope we get back to the times of only buying quality, less of it, and caring for what we already own, thus minimising the effect on nature.
…as a consumer? My mother used to say ‘buy the very best you can afford, and take care of it’ I think we have all been caught up in consumerism, but I see a shift. I am definitely living with less, and if I need something, trying only to buy vintage or lasting quality.

What is your favourite season?
Hard to pick my favourite, but probably Autumn for her crisp mornings and clear days. I love living in a country that has definite seasons.

Does New Zealand’s particular geography influence Carbon Soldier’s designs?
We live on an island at the bottom of the world, surrounded by ocean. There are more boats in New Zealand per capita than any other country, and Auckland is ’the City of Sails’ Nautical is something that often creeps into our collections!

The images accompanying this article are beautiful, why nature?
We wanted to show our local bush only 5 minutes from home in the middle of suburbia. It has many plants and trees native to New Zealand. You can see the Ponga with the silvery white underside of its mature fronds, a symbol of our country. The unfurling fronds inspired the Koru, an integral symbol in Māori arts, carving and tattoos.

Carbon Soldier design in New Zealand nature

In what way is nature part of urban life in NZ?
Our cities have lots of green spaces. Even if I have only been travelling for a week or so, when I get back I notice the openness, the green, the trees, the ocean, the (dormant) volcanoes, the beaches and that’s all in the city on my ride home from the airport!

Where do you go when you wish to connect with nature?
Out on the ocean for sure. We are so lucky to have so many outer islands to visit and harbours to explore. I love kayaking by myself. Pick your time and you are unlikely to see another human.

A favourite New Zealand plant?
The Kauri tree. We have one so majestic he even has his own name – Tāne Mahuta.

Do you feel nature is prominent enough in our children’s education?
It is probably more prominent in formal education than it once was. I think free play in nature is the best education.

City break or weekend in the mountains?
At home definitely the mountains, but if I’m overseas those old cities are breathtaking.

Nature or nurture?
Whilst both are important, the nurture needs to be there to bring out the nature.

Carbon Soldier New Zealand fern nature

Carbon Soldier nature

Carbon Soldier fashion New Zealand

Carbon Soldier kids fashion New Zealand

Interview originally appeared in Scimparello magazine – Nature Edition. Out now!
Article by Katie Kendrick