Having come from a creative household, designer Kate Watts has always gravitated towards practical projects as more than a hobby. “My father made furniture as a hobby, and my mother was a keen sewer and fabric painter, among other things. There was always the idea of making in the air,” said Watts.
Christchurch Polytech equipped Watts with the skills she needed to develop her range of products, with a strong focus on textiles. After a short stint running her clothing line, Watts found it increasingly difficult to make a sustainable income.
“When one of my retailers was closing up her shop she suggested to me that I should pursue gloves as a business as they had been selling well in her store. I took note.”
Watts jumped between retail jobs before supplementing her income by making gloves. Initially, they were made from a variety of knit fabrics, before moving on to screen printing and eventually deciding to focus only on top quality New Zealand merinos. The response was incredible, with Watts working full time, and hiring a part-time machinist within a year of production.
“I have grown the business to sell to over 100 retailers nationally, and a wee sprinkling in the USA and Australia.”
Utilising the knowledge of her peers, Watts continues to grow and develop her business which she says has been a great educational journey.
She continues to grow her wholesale relationships, having developed deep friendships with many of her retailers.