Friday, 19 December 2014

kaetoo 2014

2014 was a great year for kaetoo and I hope that it was for you too.

This year has been kaetoo's biggest yet and my products have shipped to more countries than ever before. kaetoo display boards, art kits and mini pegs can now be found all around Australia, as well as in New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States and Ireland.

I have received some marvellous feedback this year, which makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Amazing communication, product and imagination as always. X 
- Ebony, November 2014 

Fabulous gift and friendly and helpful seller. Thanks! 
- Sally, September 2014 

Great pegs, thanks for the excellent customer service, gorgeous product, and quick delivery. 
- Natalie, June 2014

I've had a great time getting out and about in Internet land. This year, kaetoo reached 100 features in Etsy treasuries, as well as being seen in multiple Madeit Sellers Picks, in the shopping guide and front page of Madeit, and in the shopping guide at Craftumi. I was interviewed at EtsyKids and Handmade Cooperative, was a Madeit Sellers Picks Editor, wrote a guest post over at EtsyKids and took part in a collaborative design challenge between {KID} independent and Handmade Cooperative. Phew!

Wishing you all a safe and relaxing festive period. See you in 2015!

xx Kate

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Activities For Kids - 2014

The kaetoo blog is all about my inspirations and activities, so a lot of the posts that you read here are about keeping small children entertained and happy. This year, I have been playing with a new baby and a three-year-old.

Activities For Kids

Below are the most popular children's posts at kaetoo for 2014. Refresh your mind on what we got up to or try out some of the activities that you missed.

1. Keeping big sister occupied after welcoming a new baby.
2. Fitting a new baby into your family.
3. Ideas for play with a four month old.
5. Ideas for play with an eight month old.
6. Cooking coconut ice.
7. Experimenting on your child with the lying cake test.
8. More experiments with the delay of gratification test.
9. Preserving memories of small children.

Read all of the children's activities for 2014.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Materials and Techniques - 2014

Every fortnight I chat with a designer in the handmade world about how they do what they do. These interviews focus on the materials and techniques that each artist uses in their craft, with tips and advice.

Below are the most popular interviews in the series from 2014. Refresh your mind about what all of these talented crafters do, visit their online stores to see their full range, and catch up on those interviews that you missed.

1. Yummy play food at Felt Like Sweets.
2. Gorgeous photo props at Birthday Blocks by Get Crafty Creations.
3. Warm baby clothing at Babywear By Babs.
4. Everything for wrapping up your little one at Swaddle Me Snugly.
5. Bright and quirky homewares at Made By LT.
6. Adorable accessories for little people at Dainty & Divine.
7. Handmade toys at Wildflower Innocence.
8. Costume jewellery at Jewel Divas.
9. Personalised custom made homewares at it's My Room!.
10. Women's fashion at Redressd.

All images from the talented designers above.

Read the whole series of interviews here. I'm on the lookout for new people to interview for 2015, so if you'd like to share your story, do let me know.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Play At The Park

For her third birthday, Miss 3.5 received a run bike and so this year has been all about parks that she can ride to with the baby in the pusher. Hence, whilst our range of parks visited has been smaller this year, we have still been out and about every day (weather permitting) to ride and play. I have shared with you previously a selection of our park trips for 2012 and 2013. Here are some of our 2014 visits.

12 months of parks in Melbourne...

January - Diamond Valley Railway

February - Wattle Park

March - Box Hill Skate Park

April - Furness Park

May - Werribee Open Range Zoo

June - Heidi

July - Branksome Grove

August - Branksome Grove

September - Beckett Park

October - Branksome Grove

November - Branksome Grove

December - Branksome Grove

Looking for fun things to do with children? Read the previous posts.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Materials and Techniques - The Climbing Tree

Handmade comes in so many different shapes and sizes. Each fortnight I chat with another crafter about how they make their creations. Today, for the last materials and techniques interview of the year, I am talking to Margo from The Climbing Tree. Margo is based in Brisbane, Queensland and is a fellow member of Handmade Cooperative.

Please tell us a little about yourself.

For the first 20+ years of my working career I worked in the charitable and government sector mostly in the aged and disabled care arena. Two events happened though that changed this course of events.

The first event happened in Easter 2006, when I and my partner (now hubby) were out walking at 6 am on an Easter Sunday and a drunk driver decided that the footpath was the road – pedestrian V car is never a good scenario. The second even came 2 1/2 years later Paul and I had our first and only child. Sometime life events happen and you decide that there is more to life than an executive level income and the associated stress of that lifestyle.

So why get into the handmade / sewing business? Well, when I went to high school (many years ago) I’d done what was then know in NSW as Textiles and Design for my HSC so I decided it was time to pick up the sewing machine and fabrics again and it all grew from there. There was no grand business plan or strategy – just a slow and gradual (with the odd hiccup) process of iterative development.

What materials and techniques do you like to use?

I have two main products and my first material choice is stretchy fabrics to make children’s underwear – yes undies, knickers, smalls – call them what you will – those things you put your bottom! For some reason a lot of people are afraid to sew stretch fabric but like anything it a skill that can be learnt and mastered. There are some fabulous Craftsy classes on sewing with knits so have a go – and if you want quality fabrics you can head over to my sister store Zebra Fabrics to buy the fabrics I use in my handmade business.

The second product I made is wrap conversion bags. Woven wraps are they extraordinarily long pieces of often handwoven fabric that mama’s around the world use to secure baby to their body – often to their back. It's an awesome way to hold your baby close while remaining hands free. Often once mums have stopped wearing they want to keep their wrap so I convert them into a nice big bag for them. The wraps are somewhat challenging to work with as they are often a looser weave fabric and are a narrow width – so have a tendency to fray and distort out of shape. I have drafted all the patterns for my bags over time and like any new fabric or technique it takes time and practice to learn how to manage the wrap.

What challenges have you faced in the creative process?

I think the biggest challenge for any business is finding your niche. For the first 2+ years of my business I felt as though I was lost within the crowd. It was hard to get seen and get consistency in sales of products I was then making. The hand crafted market place has almost never been busier with online collaborative marketplaces (such as Madeit and Etsy), physical markets (such as BrisStyle), and more recently retails spaces with items from multiple makers such as The Collaborative Store at Wynnum. So within this space you often see lots of the same or similar items and you need to find a way to differentiate yourself from the crowd – whether it through your product, style, branding – or a combination of all of these.

What drives you to create?

"Necessity is the mother of invention" My business name represents the philosophy behind my business – things that are suitable for climbing trees! Or other adventurous activities. So when I look at making a garment or designing a bag it needs to be practical, functional, easy to move with, wear and use as well as easy to care for. So in many ways my core products found me rather than me having some grand business plan and strategy with hours of research. I started making knickers for my daughter who would constantly complain about her undies going up her bottom – especially when in the car seat. So I made her some, posted on my FB page and it grew from there. Wrap conversion bags was similar, when a colleague asked if I was able to sew with a challenging wrap fabric and sew it grew. So listen to your customers – find out what their needs are and find a way to meet them!

What is coming up next?

Neat year I hope to expand my range - can’t tell you quite yet but stay tuned!

The Climbing Tree Facebook

Been loving the series. Read more in the archive.
Do you have a story that you'd like to share? Please do get in contact. 

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Our House

I'm not stupid. I've dealt with tradies a lot over the years. So when our builder said that the house re-cladding would take two weeks, I mentally doubled that estimate.



Two months later and the builder is getting close to finished. The actual re-cladding and insulating is all done, as is the new guttering and new roof. There are probably two or three days left of finishing up the frames on the new windows and the trims, I'd say. Of course, the builder would have to show up to do that... working two jobs at the same time isn't necessarily the most efficient.

Meanwhile, Darren and I have been spending our weekends and evenings up ladders painting, painting, painting. Any guesses on the colour we've chosen?

Keep up with the history of our house renovations.