I’ve decided I want to be Kat Goldin. She’s one of these super talented designer, maker, mother, wife types. And I’m quite sure she’s gorgeous looking as well. With three children under five I’m surprised she can find her own elbow let alone run the family home, a beautiful blog and her very successful Folksy shop Slugs on the Refrigerator (I was once a mother of three under 5 and I didn’t know my own name for at least five years). Here she explains how it’s all done. Prepare to be amazed.
Hi Kat, how long have you been selling on Folksy?
I have been selling on Folksy for a couple of years, but started taking it all seriously in October 2011.
Tell us about your work?
I design and make unique, modern and fun knit and crochet-wear for the whole family. I love to laugh and I love to make things that capture my sense of humour and playfulness.
I see my crochet and knitwear as a whole package. Its not just about the item, its about the whole design process that makes something that is wearable, fun and modern. I pay a huge amount of detail to every step…from the choice of materials, to ensuring the design fits and wears well and isn’t itchy or annoying.
I make sure the finished product will stand up to the heavy wear that children can put things through. My 4 year old is constantly being sent to nursery with the new designs as a test to gauge their durability and wow factor.
It doesn’t just end with the product, I spend a lot of time making sure the photographs of the item are the best they can be and that the patterns I sell are extensively tested and written in a way even beginner crocheters can understand. Even my finished items are packaged with care and thought so that when people receive them they feel like they are getting something special.
What’s your favourite piece of work?
I have to admit to being completely fickle and falling madly in love with every new design. The newest is ALWAYS my favourite until something else comes along.
Its as true now as ever, and I am completely captivated with my newest Spartacus hat, but I am sure it will be spurned when a new design comes along.
When did it all begin for you?
I’d been making hats for friends for about a year, when out of the blue I was contacted by a children’s clothing distributor who asked me for the lead in times on 1,000 units. That was when the penny dropped that I had something that I could sell.
That realisation came a crucial time for me. I had taken voluntary redundancy after finding out I was due my 3rd baby, exactly 1 year after my second. I’d never wanted to be a stay at home mother and found that I was slowly losing my mind. Starting my own business was the best thing to help my sanity…and my bank balance.
Since then I have thrown myself into the business, developing new designs and crocheting my little fingers off.
Tell us about your work space? Favourite place to work?
Up until recently, I worked in our spare bedroom. Lovingly designed and set up, it quickly became a dumping ground as I ran up and down the stairs after the children.
As my workload has increased I am simply unable to sneak away from the children and so, we have revamped our playroom to be a shared work/play space for the children and I. So far, its working much better. I am able to get more done and supervise them at the same time.
But of course with 3 children under 5, we can not stay in the house all of the time, so I will always have one of my project bags with me to work when I get a free moment – in the car, at playgroups, at soft play. I have very tolerant friends.
How do you keep your work unique?
I am very easily overwhelmed with inspiration, so I try very hard to stay away from blogs and pinterest when it comes to designing. I am quite good at seeing how something has been made, so I don’t want to get a set “way” of making something embedded in my head!
Once I have a prototype, I check the usual websites to see what else is out there in the field and, if needed, I try and tweak my design to make it different.
How do you know when a piece is done?
As a maker and designer, I am always tweaking my patterns, making them easier and finding the best way to make something. My Snugasaurus is a great example of this. I designed the hat about 12 months ago and it has changed so much that only the colours really remain the same, but its a better design for it. Its spines are straighter, its easier to make and it is much more durable than the original prototype…and I expect it to improve with each one I make.
Describe your day as a maker? Are you organised/disciplined?
I get up early (usually before 5am) with my children and spend some time answering emails and e-mailing out patterns. Before the school run, I pack up orders to take to the post office after dropping my oldest child off at nursery. After that, I then spend much of the day catching moments of time to work in between the endless stream of nappy changes, snacks, playdates and laundry. Once the children are in bed, I usually work until midnight on a mix of new projects, orders and promotional activities. I always block my finished items over night to be ready for posting the next morning.
What three tools could you not live without?
I could not do without my crochet hooks. I buy them in America and I simply can not crochet with another brand. They are sharp, so I don’t have any problems with splitting yarn and they glide over any type of yarn with ease.
My camera is also essential. Bagging that killer shot of your product is essential to online sales. It doesn’t have to be DSLR, though mine is, but good, clear, innovative photos get you in the door. My camera is possibly my favourite tools as its often through its lens that I am really able to see what I have made.
Although, not a tool as such, I find my blog essential for my creativity. It gives me a space to explore other crafts and a natural cheering squad for the days I feel low. My work and my blog are symbiotic.
What gets the creative juices flowing when creativity is stifled?
I find just picking up my hook and some yarn with no plans or expectations helps me get going again. Because I tend to make a lot of the same thing over and over, even small changes can help loosen things up and get me thinking about what else I can make.
Many of my designs resulted out of a mistake from another design…a too big aviator became a soldier became a roman centurion.
Are you inspired by any artists from the past or present?
I get inspiration from everywhere. I love the bright colours of glass artist Dale Chihuly. I love the timeless style of Hazel M Campbell and I admire the hat architecture of Woolly Wormhead, but I am equally inspired by the scottish weather and landscape and my funny, tumbling pack of small children.
What’s do you love most about being a maker?
I love that at the end of the day I have something that I have created out of some wool and a stick. I can look back over my day and see real examples of what I have accomplished.
I love the diversity of my days, on the same day I can be doing a photoshoot in the morning, sewing up a hat in the afternoon and writing a pattern in the evenings. It is just so much fun.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time?
Ummmmm, beyond having another couple baby hat models crawling around? I really want to be doing more of this. More designs, more products, and maybe be the person who finds those extra couple of hours in the day to do it all.
What would you say to any makers starting out?
Don’t be under any illusions about how much work it takes to earn money from craft. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to get going and then to maintain interest, but it is so so rewarding and worth every sleepless night.
Thanks to Kat for her inspiring interview. You can see and buy her work in her Folksy shop Slugs on the Refrigerator.