Spotlight on Kat & Fox

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Travelling out from England in 2000 as a “Pommie back-packer”, Katherine Jane Fox (hence the business name), is a humble adopted Aussie mother, wife, teacher and has now taken on the role of a lifetime…Children’s homewares and accessories designer and children’s author.

What a balancing act!

Katherine describes herself as ‘out there’, vibrant, left of centre, has bags of energy and ambitious. Colour is her world. To prove this all you need to do is take a look at the designs she produces.

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Katherine creates worlds of hand drawn lines, colour explosions, whimsical motifs and characters and stories to inspire. Using her background in interior design and illustration to bring these fun designs to the adornment of pillowcases, quilts, cushions and develop them into stories for children’s books.

“I create a world of vibrant colour.” – Katherine

Starting with a simple sketch, motif or doodle is where Katherine find inspiration for new ideas and products within the Kat & Fox ranges. The first collection started with a drawing of Katherine’s son at play which became “A Little Birdie Told Me”, collaborating with a friend to develop their debut story. More motifs, characters and patterns followed to then be converted into a book illustrated by Katherine. The story and these designs became part of the whole bed linen collection which was on display at Kids Instyle Melbourne 2016.

Katherine realised, six months into the developmental stage of business, that Kat & Fox needed brand exposure. Jumping into wholesale head first was the strategic move Katherine made with the ability to move more stock and increase sales as well as having no overheads from a brick & mortar outlet, being the motivating factors to become a wholesaler.

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Straight from the horse’s mouth…

How did you first discover your talent?

I do not remember a time when art and creativity were not in my world. I was nine when a teacher, impressed with a painting I’d done for a school project, suggested my parents encourage my undoubted talent.
Why do you do what you do?
So many reasons : It’s what makes me leap out of bed in the morning with a glow of excitement- it’s the joy I get through “work”, seeing people’s faces light up as I colour bomb the world with my designs. It’s the buzz of seeing a small idea realised. This time last year while visiting London I was inspired by the store John Lewis and their great range of beautifully designed cushions and bed linen. Illustrators designs were turned into textile designs and I thought – “I can do that! I want to do that! That’s where my career must go”. Now I have brought all my skills together under the one umbrella and it feels great!

Why do you do what you do?

So many reasons : It’s what makes me leap out of bed in the morning with a glow of excitement- it’s the joy I get through “work”, seeing people’s faces light up as I colour bomb the world with my designs. It’s the buzz of seeing a small idea realised. This time last year while visiting London I was inspired by the store John Lewis and their great range of beautifully designed cushions and bed linen. Illustrators designs were turned into textile designs and I thought – “I can do that! I want to do that! That’s where my career must go”. Now I have brought all my skills together under the one umbrella and it feels great!

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Challenges are something all businesses face. What challenges have you and your business had to face and how have you knocked them out of the park?

There have been many challenges throughout the past developmental year.

Finding a manufacturer was a huge challenge. I had no idea where to start. I took myself off to Sydney to Life Instyle to quench my thirst for industry knowledge. I chatted to other designers and came away with a wealth of knowledge. Networking, talking to people in the industry led me to the Canton Trade Fair in China. I learnt more about the textile industry and then met my manufacturer.
Of course financing this venture has been a huge challenge. The seed of my idea grew quickly into a fully operating business – a business that needed funding. During this time I had never worked so hard. I worked three jobs, including at TAFE and contracted work for our local council while developing Kat and Fox.
Applying for a business loan- another challenge and near impossible unless you have been trading for at least six months and have equity as security. Confident with my business plan I took out a personal loan, and have the support from my husband’s business. My husband and our three youngsters are fully supportive so I have to dig deep and prove to them that . . . .
Keeping family life balance is another challenge and needs determination. I try to make time for walks with my husband, gardening with the children on weekends and time for family.
To any business out there that is currently struggling, what hard-hitting advice would you give them?
Remember you are not alone. Network, find a mentor. Never be backwards in coming forward. Join business support groups and forums. The answer is out there – never forget your core reason – your drive.

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Illustration by Katherine – design inspired by ‘Alice in wonderland’ by CS Lewis.

Triumphs are also a huge part of business life. Explain your triumphs to us so we have an excuse to pop open the bubbles!

There have been many triumphs for me, from seeing my designs in 3D on bed linen for the first time, finishing and holding the book in my hands, but the best for me was getting to exhibit at Life Instyle…raising the funds, designing a stand I could be proud of, gathering an amazing support team, seeing my products on display and hearing the positive reactions from the retailers and media…what a buzz!

If you were hosting a dinner party what 5 people would you invite and why?

Firstly if I were to have a dinner party it would be a scene out of the mad hatters tea party. Colourful and crazy with very different individuals. I would invite Dawn French as she has always been an inspiration to me, a tiger as I’ve always wanted to pat one plus visually they look great, Vincent van Gogh to ask about the whole ear thing, and should I go that way to get noticed in my industry, Tricia Guild, again an inspiration from my youth…and very successful textile designer who created an empire from a small idea and finally a smurf as they are such a great shade of blue…

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