Thank goodness for creative folk like Katie Hawkins who has made searching for fun swimwear for the kiddo's easy, courtesy of her children's designer swimwear label Sandinyapantz. We chatted to Katie about her creative background, what inspired her to start her own business and her biggest challenges.
"I was born and bred on the Gold Coast and grew up in Elanora. School wasn’t for me and my parents wouldn’t allow me to leave unless I had a job or an apprenticeship! I left Elanora High School to do a hairdressing apprenticeship in Kingscliff NSW. When I was 18 I wanted to see the world so I worked and travelled. On my return home I found a new hobby that involved my deep passion and love of the ocean. To further my creative skills I borrowed my mother’s sewing machine with the idea of making my own swimwear. This led to an obsession and after teaching myself the basics I was eager to learn more so I researched the machines I needed to construct a bikini that was shop worthy. With the money I saved I bought three Industrial sewing machines and practiced day in day out until my very first bikini was made. From there I tried my luck and started applying for jobs as a machinist in factories. With little to no experience at all I kept applying until one day I got my foot in the door. I worked for many leading brands such as Nike, Reebok and NRL sewing a variety of garments to gain the experience I needed to pursue my creative passion in swimwear."
What made you pursue your creative passion?
After many years of working in a number of different factories and various other jobs I landed a job in a swimwear factory... Finally! I could now specialize in swimwear manufacturing. My boss was the driving force behind my creative passion and it was here I learnt everything there is to know about swimwear. It was everything and more than I ever dreamed of and had no idea that something so small could be made so many different ways. It made me so excited to go to work every day and to be a part of the creative process for many leading Australian designers.
When did you take the plunge and start your own business?
Well, we still joke about it today. It was when my boss said “Katie, I am going to fire you if you don’t leave and do this on your own”. Apparently I was ready, she taught me everything she new and all I needed was the confidence to start my own business. I had my own set up at home in the shed at the back of my property so she gave me one of her clients to kick start my career ... and I have never looked back! I built my business up to 8 clients consisting of swimwear, children’s wear, sportswear and dance wear. One day, Becky Jack from Peony Swimwear arrived at my door and after launching her label in 2013 she became my exclusive client for 3 years. As I watched her brand grow to one of Australia’s leading swimwear labels I decided it was now my time, I was ready to put everything I’ve learned into my very own label. I sold my house on the Gold Coast, moved down south to be with the love of my life and started my lifelong dream.
What does your brand consist of?
We offer unique functional styles ranging from Rashies, One Pieces, Bikinis and surf leggings. All Sandinyapantz garments are of the highest quality, sourcing the finest UPF50+ Extra Life Lycra to give extra protection from the sun. We have beautiful prints that are digitally created by a collaboration of artists featuring unique laser cut accessories to compliment the range. Our designs infuse the purity and playfulness of life at the beach.
Where is Sandinyapantz designed and made?
Sandinyapantz (children’s swimwear) is designed and made by me from the dreamlike beach town of Arrawarra Headland NSW.
What inspires you?
Although my source of creativity is fueled by many things, inspiration is everywhere! I find my deepest well of inspiration in creating something out of nothing. My dad has always made everything by hand from houses, to boats, to caravans and now a plane! My family has definitely inspired me to believe that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
What are your plans for the brand and where do you hope it takes you?
The plans for my brand are limitless as I continue to be inspired to create and design. My hope is to be recognized and have continued success not only in Australia but worldwide.
What were the biggest challenges when launching your brand?
The biggest challenge for me was doing all of this on my own from designing, to pattern making, to sampling, to production, to sales and marketing.
What is the best thing about having your own business?
Is that it's one of the most challenging, rewarding things you'll ever do. It's scary and exhilarating at the same time to create all of this on my own but I have complete creative control from start to finish.
How did you hear about TVM?
I have been following your markets since it was highly recommended by my previous client Becky Jack from Peony swimwear and current client Bryce from Marloe Swimwear that this is the perfect platform to get exposure for my label.
Why did you choose TVM to help launch your business?
To be a part of a team of local creative talent is simply invaluable to the growth of my business.
The next TVM is Sunday 26 March 2017 at Burleigh Heads State School, 8:30am - 1pm.