Interview: Doug, of Doug's – the micro-factory making all the right moves. 

Images by Jake Dennis.

We recently caught up with the main man, Doug Coker-Grant, of Doug's, who is at the helm of his micro-factory in the heart of central Tāmaki Makaurau. He and his team produce and finish goods for a broad range of clients and do so working to a high level of quality, and with smiles from ear-to-ear. From embroidery to badges, to custom labels and merch – he is fast becoming the go-to for all garment finishing requirements. Worth mentioning too, his team is growing! He started his journey solo, but has now hired two staff members: Taylor and Rebecca (and sometimes his brother, Angus, lending him a hand when needed). We like the family element to his operation!

For us, he completes the very important final step in the journey of our Crew Neck Tees – the logo embroidery! Our tees are currently produced in northern Tāmaki Makaurau at a factory named Seabreeze Apparel. They are a custom fit, with our own dimensions and details and it only makes sense to give them that extra bit of pizzazz with some custom embroidery.

Read below our interview with Doug and enjoy hearing more about his journey, what makes him tick and what his plans are for the future of Doug's.

Tell us a little about your background – what you do now, what you’ve done in the past?

Hello, I'm Doug. I'm an embroiderer and designer. I run a city-centre micro-factory where I embroider, sample and develop merchandise for brands and artists.

I've always been involved in the arts — I used to be heavily into theatre-making, I worked on some very fun clown comedy and interactive shows. Somehow, I ended up working for the New Zealand Sugar Company for a few years. I helped create an educational tour there, but wound up deep into the engineering and the efficiency of large-scale machinery. Factory-style machinery has always interested me (ever watched that YouTube series, How it's Made? — wild stuff). Textiles were just another curiosity, and I allowed myself to focus on it. I think I've always been an artist at heart.

Where did you get the idea to start Doug's?

That's a hard one. There wasn't a day when I decided to become an embroiderer — it just happened. I'm a strong believer in personal and business evolution, so I think Doug's was a natural development. I had initially helped my brother screen print band merch — that's what got me interested in print and embroidery. I started to make patches at home and sell them at markets, which quickly turned into custom embroidery. Fast track a few years and here I am. Evolved into a micro-factory!

What motivates you to work as hard as you do?

Hmmm. Somedays I think I'm chasing the productive version of myself. I've never had any lavish goals or romanticised a sweet rich life. I just enjoy the process of creating. I’m definitely driven by the dream of building something of my own and having a legacy one day too. I’ve always thought that there’s no point in waiting for it to happen — that’s why I started as soon as I could. I'm big on commitment and risk-taking too, so that helps.

Have you always had a passion for embroidery and badge making? If so, where do you feel this passion originated from?

I didn't have the faintest idea about embroidery 5 years ago. I've always had a passion for making though, that's been there since I was young. I used to have a craft table — I would draw, paint, scrapbook, whatever. Like a true craftsman I didn't read a book till I was 7. I think my passion just slowly developed into textiles, then to embroidery.

What brands/companies inspire you? And why?

I look up to a lot of brands. I admire brands with integrity and great communication. My current inspirations are: Ensemble Magazine, Sam Youkilis and the Ekstrem chair by Varier Furniture. I think brands need an edge — to be truthful and grounded.

What has been your proudest professional accomplishment so far?

There have been many. Upgrading to my current machine always seemed impossible. I could never get my head around how (financially and literally) it would be possible. I’m thrilled I figured it out. Another moment would definitely be working with Teeks — he and I set out to make harmonious and intentional merchandise. It was a privilege to help make something so special.

Where would you like to see Doug's in 5 years' time?

Who knows! Looking to the future is always exciting. I never look too far ahead though, or plan years of development. It comes back to evolution — and trusting you'll do the right thing. I'm always focussed on excellent craftsmanship, but right now I'm branching into making the ideal basic tee. In 5 years, I hope Doug's is known for making wicked, quality items.

We couldn't recommend Doug and his teams work any higher. He is a genuine, kind, human who runs a great business that we are proud to partner with. For any of your garment finishing needs, visit