Q&A: Ethical underwear entrepreneur Elisha Watson  

Elisha Watson is a litigation lawyer turned underwear entrepreneur.

In 2017, she founded Nisa, an ethical underwear, swimwear and activewear label employing former refugees and migrants in their Wellington workshop.

The idea for Nisa came to Elisha when she was volunteering with the Community Law Centre and Red Cross in the refugee resettlement space. She shared a love of sewing with many of the women in the refugee community, and the idea of setting up a clothing business to provide employment opportunities took form.

Elisha quit her job as a lawyer to get Nisa off the ground, and five years later is now the founder of a lively company that makes organic cotton underwear and bras, and eco-friendly activewear and swimwear.

She has a diverse and talented team of 15 women from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Hong Kong, Myanmar, New Zealand, Somalia and Sri Lanka at her side.

What did/do you want to be when you grow up?

I very embarrassingly wanted to be Prime Minister. Now I can’t think of a worse job.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

To fail fast. I like to throw everything into what I’m doing and then see how it turns out. Failing fast also means not being afraid of failure – it’s a natural part of life and only as scary as you make it out to be.

What’s a skill or talent you have that people wouldn’t guess?

I sneeze in sets of five. My personal record is 21 sneezes in a row.

If you could change one thing about Wellington, what would that be?

Public transport that rivalled other capital cities around the world, instead of the sad reality of cancelled buses.

What’s your go-to takeaway order? Or your favourite dining out dish?

Indian Sweets and Snacks in Newtown is our go-to if we’re feeling like a cheap and cheerful meal. Their dosa is so good.

Where do you work and what do you like about it?

I work at an ethical underwear label called Nisa. I love it because it’s so creative being in the fashion industry, and combine that with being a social enterprise that provides people with their first jobs in Aotearoa, there are many warm fuzzies.

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