Keep Kalm and carry on!
Meet the brainchild behind the elegant, well designed, nursing wear that is Kalm Designs.
Karyn Cossey and her talented mum Merle – design, sew and run Kalm Designs, and it’s sister label K’otic. On top of these labels they also have a label for our little minis called Have a Hoot.
As a new mum Karyn, who had to attend a wedding, found that she was unable to find an elegant, sophisticated outfit that she would be able to feed in. So in true Karyn style this talented mama decided to design and create her own!
Kalm Designs offers stylish, unique, limited run designer pieces that can be worn while nursing and long after. Karyn is passionate about producing items that have style and longevity in mind.
A true creative Karyn is full of ideas for her business and I couldn’t wait to sit down and hear all about them!
How would you explain Kalm Designs?
Fashion and sewing has always been in my family and in my blood– and from an early age I always knew I wanted to design and create. Between my mum and I we have a few wee local fashion awards and mum even went onto teach it. But life takes over, hubby, travel, work etc etc – then one day a beautiful wee girl came into my life and the inspiration hit me like a tonne of bricks! It is and will always be evolving I believe – I can’t stop my brain and am constantly thinking up new designs for mums and now the little ones too! Yes – I believe Kalm Designs will be evolving for a time and I’m just going to hold on tight and enjoy the ride!
What made you decide to go into business?
Ahhh – Well we had been invited to a friend’s wedding and I was very excited at the prospect as it meant a chance to “dress up”. Lexi was round 6 weeks at the time of the wedding so I knew I needed something “breastfeeding friendly” and preferably discreet as I was a wee bit shy about breastfeeding in public. I was happy to pay for something real nice that ticked all the boxes and would be something I could wear after breastfeeding too – but just couldn’t find anything that screamed “Occasion’s and breastfeeding” at the same time. So I went to the wedding….. had a lovely time……. came home……stripped out of my nice frock…….fed lexi……. Got dressed again………and headed back to the wedding leaving Lexi happy and full with her nana and poppa.
Lexi was invited to the reception too but it was easier to leave her (luckily) with her nana and poppa – but from talking to other mums I found that many who took their bubbas to a wedding (and was as shy as me with the whole breastfeeding in public) either fed waaaaaaay down the back in a dark corner OR the toilets – they felt the only place they could fed their bubs was in the toilet!!! And THAT has been the biggest push for me going into business in this field – I want to help mummas get out of feeding in the bogs and have the confidence to feed where ever and whenever they wish! Whew – passionate much Karyn J
Where do you get your inspiration from for Kalm Design?
Everywhere really – a collar here, a sleeve there, fabric I fall in love with and just what I went through as a mum myself wanting to breastfeed in public but being a little timid about it. Every design I do for my breastfeeding lines I keep the access discreet – and try to think about longevity of the garment. It has meant many a design being ditched as it didn’t meet the criteria but that’s all part of the parcel and passion in what I do!
What are you most proud of with the launch of your company?
That I’m honestly 100% New Zealand Made! I design, source all the fabric and trims, my mum pattern drafts (and I’m having a crash course in that too) then we cut together, sew together and ta da – a new design is born. As we expand I will look to employ more local talent within NZ to sew my quality garments as I love to support my NZ community!
That and the fact that we did it all ourselves – and used local business’s for such things as our website, hosting etc etc!
What has been the most difficult part of your journey?
The juggle – making sure I am still here for my Little Miss and hubby while trying to grow the business, lots of balls in the air and just trying not to drop too many of them!
And I guess the down’s – we all get them and yes they are very testing – I’m very lucky to have a supportive family and with their help push through the downs to find the up’s!
Finding our own way and learning some costly lessons along the way!
And lastly the loneliness – it happens, and you very much find yourself in your own head (sometimes a little too often) but to overcome this I make time in my diary to meet with local likeminded mums in business over a coffee, and not only do we “get shit done” we also have a great catch up!! That and I “bother” my mum quite often when we are in the middle of a new design/prepping for an awesome market – like the collective marketplace in Whangarei!! It’s all about the support baby – we just gotta push ourselves to get out there!
What is one of the best things about being involved in a family business?
Making my family proud!
And the flexibility – that’s cool too!
The look on my families face when I create something new – if I could just bottle that feeling.
I am sure that there are some challenges involved with working together too?
Can you fess up to any of them with out starting a family feud?
Hmmmmm – sorry mum – hahaha!
We are great as a team – but when I talk aaaaaanything FB or IG then mum has a glazed over look on her face – haha – it’s priceless! That and we have quite different idea of what’s in fashion so that can be quite interesting sometimes when pitching my new designs I want to do! Haha – she pulls some funny faces my mum! PS – looooove you mum!
And when it comes to anything business for my hubby and I – well I picked up a piece of advice that was this: to go to a coffee shop for a “business meeting”! So if there is something you disagree on – you have to find a “quiet” was to resolve the issue! He he – brill advice!
What is it like running a buisness from home?
It has its good points and bad ones too.
Good: I’m here if I’m ever needed! Sick days are not an issue – just lots of tissues (sorry couldn’t resist that one!) I can and will drop what I’m doing and switch over to “family mode” in the middle of a work day if and when I’m needed and it’s not a problem!
Endless coffee – and a semi full fridge!
Cheaper overheads than if I was in an office etc.
I can start dinner early if needed or pop a load of washing on – lots of little things!
Bad: The washing needs doing and so does the dishes! So it’s defiantly a “time management” game!
Time Management – you need to be good at it – I am for the most part but must admit I can be easily distracted!
Isolation – here’s that lonely bug creeping in again – it’s one thing I do miss about “going out to work” as there are peeps around to “bounce” ideas off – but that’s what the Mum’s and women in business groups are all about – and through them I’ve made some great connections both near and far!
What are your top tips for managing the mum/work juggle?
A diary – and using it!
And the biggie – don’t be so hard on yourself if you drop a ball – shit happens! As long as there are full tummies and smiles on faces then all is good in the world!
As a busy mum how do you make sure you get ‘ME time and what do you enjoy doing
when you do get time to yourself?
Well “Me Time” happens when and if I can grab it – and funnily enough I usually enjoy sewing something for Lexi or creating something new! That and a few minutes earlier to bed means another chapter read in my book!
Where too next for Kalm Design?
Refining our designs from feedback we receive and choosing new ones from the many swirling around in my head! I would love one day to introduce an organic Lux line – but that’s way off in the future! And working on more for the kids – we are just finishing off 2 merino cardigan designs for the littlies – Squeee – and basically just working on more product for the littlies. Oh that and maybe a kids book – cause you know – brain won’t stop going into overdrive so why not! (insert cracking up face here!)