Natalie Iogha, 31, talks selling knitting kits to be made and donated to premature babies, and studying at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace.
What does your business do?
We gather natural equipment, design easy-to-follow instructions and produce designer craft kits for adults to make hats and wash clothes for children.
The main focus is for someone who wants to create something unique for a relative or a friend's little one which becomes an heirloom. The idea is the person who made it isn't necessarily an experienced crafter, they are someone who has a memory of their mum or grandma or somebody making when they were young.
KidSet makes it easy for inexperienced crafters to get involved. The key ingredients are love and time, and you get a quality product at the end of it. We've been going since April.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I'm an only child and to keep me quiet in the school holidays my grandmothers gave me crafts to do. One was an embroider and one was a weaver so I've always had a huge passion for hand-crafts. When I was 19 I went to London to study embroidery at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace, it was amazing and I learnt all sorts of traditional forms of English embroidery techniques.
I then went to Sydney to work as a manager for a knitting and needle craft store, where I met all sorts of people with all sorts of skill levels, and I became aware of how easy it is for people to get bamboozled or confused while they are in craft stores ... so the idea for KidSet was just percolating.
When I had my son, who is just about to turn 1, the gifts people gave us were so generous, and the ones that meant the most to my husband and I were those that had been handmade, and so KidSet was born of that.
You offer kits designed to be purchased, made and given away for premature babies - tell me a bit more about that?
I've partnered up with my girlfriend Courtney Bennett from the Premmie Knitting Club. For a couple of years now she's been organising knitting drives and that's just been within her network. This year, with the launch of KidSet, I thought this would be a really good partnership and we'd be able to reach out to a whole new group of people to get them knitting and contributing back to the community.
Everything donated goes to the Well Foundation New Zealand or to SCUBA in Sydney. Well Foundation is the official charity for North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals and they have a special care baby unit which the items go to. Courtney donated more than 2000 items at the beginning of this month to the Well Foundation and there's been interest from all over the world. She has received donations not just KidSet but from Ireland, Scotland and Spain, it's been incredible.
What types of knitting sets do you sell?
At the moment, because I'm balancing a 9 to 5 job, raising a baby and KidSet, there are only two offerings which are the Bijoux Beanies for $25 and cotton wash clothes for $30. Next I'm going to launch some booties and from there we'll have beanies and cotton vests. The range will grow and there are about five designs in the pipeline. It's all focused on functional, contemporary garments for babies in their first year of life, whether they were early or whether they were right on time.
How has the business been received?
There's been a swell of orders. Because we're internet-based, we get orders from customers that don't necessarily have a local craft shop, a lot of rural orders all the way up North right down to Invercargill. My initial goal was to sell 1,000 kits this year and I think I'll smash that pretty quickly. We've sold about 500 kits since April.
How have you found running your own business?
This is the first business that I've been at the helm of. At this stage in my life, I have the confidence to do it now. There's been a ground swell of support for women in business and supporting each other, and maybe Instagram has had something to do with supporting your local girl gang which has really given me the confidence to think I can do this. I've seen my Mother start a business, my aunt's run their own, I've work very closely with the owner of the company I work for now so I see what goes into it, and you have to be passionate.
What are your long term plans?
I'd really like to inspire a new generation of crafters and getting KidSet placed in areas where people don't expect it. The big hairy audacious dream would to have a flagship KidSet store but there is no plan for that at the moment. Later in the year I'm hoping to be at some Auckland markets and from there look for stockers.
What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
You can do anything but you can't do everything. It is also really important to have a mentor that keeps you on the right track.