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At home with Daniela Schmidhalter of Dehei

At home with Daniela Schmidhalter of Dehei

Founded in 2016 by Daniela Schmidhalter, Dehei, pronounced ‘da-hay’, meaning "at home" in Swiss, draws on Schmidhalter’s European heritage and love for utilitarian aesthetics. Made from beautifully soft, rainfed 100% organic GOTS certified jersey cotton, Schmidhalter shares how, in private and in business, we can forge deeper relationships with nature through our everyday.

You grew up in a small Swiss village. How has this influenced your approach to living today and business?

I actually grew up in Luzern, but a small Swiss village sounds way more exciting, haha. It’s a very gorgeous city in central Switzerland known for its stunning lake and the iconic Chapel Bridge. Growing up there definitely impacted me. The Swiss emphasis on functionality and practicality has rubbed off on me—I tend to prioritize practical items over anything overly extravagant or fluffy. While I'm not sure if growing up in Switzerland directly impacts how I run my business, it certainly shapes my perspective on what matters in life. The beauty and history of the place instilled in me an appreciation for heritage and quality craftsmanship, values that I believe have subtly influenced my business decisions.

How does your home feel? And how do you feel the bathroom sits in relation to the other rooms? Is there intimacy or not?

Our home is very much lived in, I often call it a local train station with a constant flow of people coming and going. We have an open-door policy, not just with our friends but also our four sons' friends. I prefer it when people walk in and get comfortable and treat it as their own. Our house has been a construction site for the last 6 years but it's slowly evolving and coming together now. Our main bathroom is, funnily enough the only room that's nearly 100% finished. It's a space I intentionally designed to be minimalist. I wanted it to be a space where you can walk in and decompress at the end of the day. We have a great tiled partition wall that adds a touch of privacy to still allow others to come in and brush their teeth et cetera without feeling exposed.

What makes a home comfortable for you?

For me, a comfortable home is one that reflects life as it's lived—a few dishes in the sink, a pile of laundry waiting to be folded. While I appreciate a clean and tidy space, the reality, especially with kids, is often a bit messier, and that's perfectly fine by me. I cherish furniture and objects that tell a story, whether it's something that’s been collected over time or items with special memories attached.

You state that Dehei is as gentle on the environment as it is on your skin. Why do you care about sustainability? And what does it mean to you?

I care about sustainability because I think it's important to take care and be aware of the planet we call home. To me, sustainability means being mindful of how our actions impact the environment and doing our best to minimize it. We have choices, especially in manufacturing, and I want to do my part as best as I can.

What is it about colour for you that you offer Dehei in a spectrum of colours?

Colour is such a powerful way to express ourselves and enhance our surroundings. Offering Dehei in a spectrum of colors allows people to choose the shade that resonates most with them, reflecting their personality, style, and mood. It's about providing options and giving people the freedom to customize their space according to their preferences. Plus, different colors can evoke different emotions and create various atmospheres, so having a range of options ensures that everyone can find something that suits their taste and enhances their living environment.

Your idea was to not pollute with production and product. Can you share with us your approach?

We operate in small batches, which allows us to have better control over our production process and minimise waste. All our cotton is milled-to-order. This means that we only produce the fabric once an order is placed, eliminating the need for large quantities of fabric to be stockpiled in warehouses. Furthermore, we are committed to sourcing sustainable materials and partnering with suppliers who share our values. This includes using organic GOTS certified cotton, which is grown without harmful pesticides and chemicals, as well as working with suppliers who prioritise ethical labour.

When making a purchase, often what is not considered (because largely it is unseen) are the inputs, the working conditions, the context of how that product came to be. What questions do you think people, we, should be asking ourselves before we give our money to a business?

Before giving our money to a business, consider asking yourself questions like: What materials were used to make this product? Were the workers treated fairly? What impact does production have on the environment? Is the company transparent about its practices?

Explore Dehei online at or in-person at 106 Richmond Road, Grey Lynn, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. 

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