HMM: Tell us about your business and your brand. How did you know you wanted to focus on women?
I want to help others by creating a “self-care/Self-love” brand that makes women feel valued in society; they’re here for a reason to share the gifts they’ve been blessed with and to know that they genuinely are enough.
To show them that by granting themselves a break now and then, pressing pause on that pesky inner critic telling us we should feel guilty by indulging in self-care is selfless, not selfish.
I feel I am my target audience; I put all my energy and love into my children, my then-husband, before myself. Little by little, I lost myself within those roles, I forgot what I wanted out of life, and my sense of self and identity became swept up in that life. I found myself feeling detached from my spiritual side and disconnected from my inner compass. We need to feel we somehow are deserving of love, kindness, and empathy.
I believe a brand should have the ability to show they care at each touchpoint. From the thoughtful designing, production of the goods, to the home delivery and unboxing of the Kimonos, with a genuine thank you card and kind reminders of the importance of “self-care and self-love” as we can’t give from an empty cup. The Kimono itself will have self-love. “You are enough, with love, Kiiyn.”
HMM: How have you handled today’s times and transitioned your business and what you offer?
When the first wave of the COVID Pandemic hit, I was homeschooling my eldest daughter ( unsuccessfully with my three-year-old at my feet needing constant attention), and I began to reflect on the state of mind I had invested many hours in strengthening. My friends and family were becoming more and more fearful as they plugged into the media updated on TV, radio, the internet a few times a day. Over the past two years, I learned soothing anxious thoughts and depression brought about by several factors but cemented with my young family’s traumatic break-up.
I switched off from the external “noise,” especially first thing in the morning and before bedtime, never watching TV, especially the news apart from the highlights, to keep updated. I listened to podcasts on health and wellbeing while cleaning the house, doing laundry. I felt grounded by the simple things we were now “restricted to,” such as walking bare feet on my grass lawn, looking up to the trees swaying, spotting the different types of birds. I am relishing time cooking with my girls, dancing with them for no reason other than watching them smile and laugh more intensely… It was then that I felt compelled to give back, if I could help one other woman feel like I was living in the moment, to feel they are valuable, that they are safe to be who they genuinely are….
HMM: How did you make the shift, and what did your product/business evolution look like?
I was wearing many of my comforting lounging clothes around the house as most of us are now daily! I thought about Kimonos as this sacred, beautiful garment with gorgeously tactile and luxuriating fabrics, how receiving one of these items in a beautiful box could give women permission to slow down, care for themselves in whatever form that may take, a gorgeous bath…filled with aromatic flowers from her garden, journal writing with the note card prompts we gift you within the kimono box. If this small self-care act triggers her to dream beyond whatever her current reality is presenting itself, she can hopefully feel a little stronger within herself again. I want our customers to feel we care, that as women, we are all in this together, in Kinship (I wish this were my URL, but 2020 was a bit late to secure that one…so I went with Kiiyn).
I knew I could build a brand on a pure foundation of kindness ( why it is still a label of some form of a week attribute), integrity, and authentic love. I was repeatedly told I was too nice, too sincere, too kind to “make it, or be a success” within my fashion industry career. I’m proud to say; I would much rather feel fulfilled by building this business on this type of model than any other that would see me reach successful heights in the eyes of those who scorn me for doing so.
During the early months of the pandemic, I started to explore my local fashion industry here in South Australia. Talking with local designers and fabric suppliers, I became more determined to make everything here, with people who inject love into everything they cut and sew. I started sampling a few kimonos to hone in on the comfortability factor to wear at home as a robe. I’m launching the Kimono on a pre-sale basis with the launch of your fab magazine! So I can have my customers tell us what they want in terms of colors, print options, and fabrication types. We use recycled Poly, Silks, Rayon blends, and silky charmeuse to pamper our ladies with!
Kiiyn is a self-care brand, with the Kimono’s line being the first release of the product range.
HMM: Wow, there is so much of your business character woven into the thread of what you’ve purposed and designed. What is the message you would most like to communicate with the women?
You are meant for more. Break wide open, allow the brightest light of your future to guide you home. Love, your future self x.
I’m not perfect (I’ll never be or ever wish to be), I have flaws, but something steady within me is that I love caring and kindness. I always seek to choose compassion over being firm.
In the words of Earl Nightingale, “success is the continued progress towards a worthy ideal.”
I’ve learned many amazing things from my journey through trauma over the past two years. I am striving to apply these awakenings daily to entrench them as habits to grow into the better version of me that my future self is calling me towards.
HMM: What have you learned about yourself and others in your relationships, past or present?
In choosing to sit with my pain, rather than denial, I feel I created an opportunity to acknowledge what happened and identify what I was responsible for. This moment of truth, and shifting of power to oneself, can be the most significant thing to propel you to a kind of growth you’ve never known.
I thought my separation with all its betrayals and pain was enough. “Right ok, now I can start living again, the painful memories are starting to fade, etc.….”. with some clarity and the familiarity of a sore heart, I saw that this was “another experience to crack my heart wider open … so I can let more light in and experience even further growth.”
This kind of thinking brings my anxiety, self-criticism, and blame down to a dull whisper. To ignore those thoughts when they bubble to the surface is to deny being human, but I have learned to replace them with “I’m an ever-evolving soul, where there is hurt there is growth.” This can never be taken from me. I will be strong.
Without that true self-love and nurturing, I overlooked warning signs, and I tried to fill that void in me with marriage to a man who I loved deeply. Yet, we failed to care for one another as we promised to, with unrealistic work pressures, a 2nd baby to manage for, and little hours in the day to effectively communicate, let alone express our vulnerability during that period.
We had been through a lot as a couple; I was retrenched a week after returning from our honeymoon, miscarriage, IVF failures, mounting Debts, abuse, etc. I believe we lose ourselves (old self) when you’re reborn as a new mother. We have been gifted with the blessing of viewing life and our world from a different perspective.
I don’t subscribe to the idea that our marriages (partnerships) with the Father are challenged because we give all the love we had for them to the child. If anything, we grow in love for all; it expands our depth of love. However, our babies need us more (it’s a matter of life and death reliance from their perspective!).
HMM: What does forgiveness mean to you?
Forgiveness works excellent as a way to move forward and create space and clarity to grow. Forgiveness is not condoning; instead, it releases you from being stuck in a state of anger, which is “Like drinking the poison and wishing the other person would die.” However, focusing on discovering our true self can far outweigh forgiveness, eclipsing it, and almost rendering it a superfluous process. When you allow your dreams to flow, visualize your future self, calling you forward to your-ea-l-l-y want.
HMM: What is one difficult decision you’ve ever had to make?
My departure from the Fashion industry (all that I had known, been educated in, and worked for 15+ years in) due to moral standing on treatments of our supply chains (Chinese and Indian Factories) and unjust pay and conditions for even our head offices was solidified with.
HMM: How hard was it breaking into your business?
I was continuously deterred from entering the Fashion industry before I started my studies at the Whitehouse design institute in Sydney. It wasn’t unusual to hear, “it’s a cutthroat industry, so much competition, unless you’re successful, you won’t earn much money, etc.…” and it was all true! I worked relentlessly during the three years at design school (fashion design and small business advanced diploma). There was no time for a social with study all week and the creation of ranges at night and each weekend. This was a real introduction to the work ethic expected in the industry. The experience was worthwhile, though, and I was fortunate to be taught real designers with industry currency.
My first design jobs were all part-time and all hustled by myself as the employment landscape in Adelaide’s small city, where I am from, was low on my field opportunities. So, I juggled four part-time jobs that included cutting, design room assistant, and illustration for well-known local brands. That rhythm was unsustainable, so I moved back to Sydney and was offered a full-time Design Assistant role at Jigsaw Australia. I was let go four months later, and I decided to pivot my plans of becoming a designer and explore other avenues in fashion. At the same time, I was young enough to get it “wrong.” I figured I would go through a process of elimination before finding the industry area that was right for me. The next few years saw me try.
Wholesale sales, production work, QA ( quality control) in large warehouses for Sportsgirl and David Jones suppliers, and I finally landed a product development role with Wayrose working for boutique designers – George Gross/Harry Who, Bare, Lisa Ho, Jacqui E, Colette Dinnigan. My boss managed his three girl team head office by using threats to dismiss us if we stepped out of line. He managed his factories in China and India with the same iron fist.
I grew my love for intricate details, fabrications, fine silks, beads, sequins, and embroidery appliques during this time. I was paid well below minimum wage and worked 8:30 am – 7 pm most days. My boss drove luxury cars, and we skipped lunch mostly because we couldn’t afford the cash or the time away from our desks! The staff turnover was very high. I left the job just after a year.
After that point, I skipped from one unpleasant job to another, taking anything that helped me make ends meet. I worked as a stylist for Rolling stone magazine, working with some great musicians, but we were expected to work on minimum wage for the sake of a name. I then began working for product development companies supplying large retailers here in Australia, David Jone, and Myer. I valued being “busy” and wore it as a badge of honor in fun, fast-paced work. I was working until 9 pm during the range building season.
When I had my first baby, I swore I would never return to the fashion industry. I searched endlessly for another option to balance spending time with my baby and working.
HMM: How do you maintain your integrity in an otherwise very competitive and sometimes unscrupulous industry?
I very much feel that integrity as a whole is missing within the Fashion industry. I started this business from the ground up as my small way to counteract the cutthroat nature that exists today. I feel like I’m going against the grain by starting a little, locally designed, and produced clothing brand that looks to pay fair wages to my team and care about the effect my creations (kimonos and packaging) have will continue to have on our environment.
I feel as though small actions will grow into large ripple effects. The more brands, and especially those of us who are just starting to contribute to the industry, that start from a more considered place around environmental impact and the regeneration and growth of local trades and manufacturing, the more valid reasons there will be for customers to choose slow, small fashion brands that uphold their integrity. This is the anthesis of the fast-fashion houses that have drowned out the local manufacturing industry over the past 20 years.
Our Kiiyn brand will pride itself on integrity and transparency.
HMM: What is it that makes you do what you do in today’s economy?
Once I learned about the goldmine of opportunity within the digital age we are living in, as well as the inevitable and unstoppable growth this brand new economy – the digital economy was unleashing, things for me changed forever, and I have never returned to my old way of limited thinking and looking at the world.
It is an industrial revolution of seismic scale seeding global change with digital developments in all industries and changing how we live in every way, shape, and size.
It married perfectly, I thought as a new Mum looking for options to return to work but still have time with my babies. After all, time is the most precious commodity we have as humans.
I am determined to create a path for myself, pave my way with a business built on digital foundations. Working for yourself is today now more secure than any job.
At first, I felt insecure about my wide variety of skills and experience. But now, I see them as a big plus, an advantage to pull from each of those areas to support myself as a business owner. Rather than focusing on one aspect of fashion production, my varied past roles have given me strong foundations and confidence to shepherd my brand from concept to delivery.
HMM: How difficult is it to maintain a work-life balance? What measures do you take to ensure that you have that? What do you do for peace?
I don’t know that a work-life balance is possible. I look to guide my daily routines and schedules in ways that harmonize and complement the other, which is why I have set out to prioritize my everyday life raising my two little girls, doing what I can to be really “present” for them when I’m with them ( I don’t always get it right, that is for sure mostly when I’m on a work deadline). I have set out to look for a significant income source that gives me purpose and to feel fulfilled, creatively, at the end of the workday.
I aim to create a business and life I love that I don’t need or desire a vacation from.
The majority of my week is still focused on raising and caring for my girls; working on my business is my second priority. My work hours are squished into 2-3 days per week, but I love it so much that I tend to squeeze in a few more hours of work when my girls are asleep. I answer emails and calls out and about with my little one amidst the grocery shopping, playgrounds, and house cleaning! Thank God for the iPhone!
I find that kids don’t want your “presents’ they desire your ‘presence’…
I want my girls to learn from their Mum, that you can work for yourself with more flexibility to allow for time with the kids.
HMM: What is your definition of success?
I think as women, we need to take a deep breath and stop the criticism – whether we choose to be a Full-time stay-at-home Mum or a full-time working Mother. If you are happiest at a job and getting to see your kids when you can, congratulations, that is a success, and we should all support you on that. And similarly, Mum’s who want to be with their kids at home should all support you equally. It is an individual’s choice, and how we raise our kids to be healthy, friendly, kind, and respectful adults should not be scrutinized.
A quote that resonates with me is my favorite by Earl Nightingale –
“Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal (or goal)”
I realized that working in the fast fashion brands that paid me well, I felt unsuccessful as it wasn’t a fulfilling goal to push my factories (China and India) on shorter lead times and drive them down on price to meet the KPI’s of these companies, mostly driven by shareholders.
HMM: What is one thing that you would like people to remember about you and your work?
I would love to be remembered for acting in kindness, choosing it over being right, and certainly always over being FIRM, as my ex-mother-in-law likes to insist.
At the graduation from Primary to High school – I wrote “To BE HAPPY” as my answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” my classmates laughed until I suggested to them perhaps they had misunderstood the question….answering, “I want to become a Pilot, a doctor, a pop singer”!
HMM: If there was one thing you could change about the world, what would it be?
I would so love to see our world changed with the power of empathy. And to understand the need to educate girls (Girl Rising Foundation)
HMM: What advice do you have for the young ladies (teens to young adult age) who are growing up in today’s world with so much influence in music that is not always supportive of their best interests? What advice would you give to the young men?
With two little girls in my care almost full-time, I see it as a duty to educate them in an empowered -pro-female way. I couldn’t find any festive music or music videos for young girls to aspire to and enjoy without there being a derogatory or overly sexualized element presented within them. So, I started to create positive playlists on Youtube to enjoy with my little girls. Educating them before their brains have developed into Theta states with positive images of how women and girls can be represented in our world is imperative.
I find it upsetting to hear “yearning for a boy’s love and attention” type of music. Add a catchy tune that will be repeated daily, and it’s no wonder we have girls struggling with self-esteem issues and focusing on their appearance to get what they want in this world.
I cried when I saw Frozen 2 with my little ones! The positive messages they portray, Elsa’s “Show yourself” is a favorite for my girls to sing with me with gusto!
Step into your power
Into something new
YOU are the one you’ve been waiting for.”
It’s self-discovery at its best, right there!
HMM: Do you have any final thoughts that you would like to share?
I believe life is about discovering your true self, away from the ego-driven self. You are drawing on your unique gifts to share and do so to reach a state of peace. Call on your intuition to make decisions in life. Visualize your future self – what would she want you to do, be, etc.
I’m more in love with my future than I am with the story of my past.
The more you hold onto the identity of who you believe you were in the past, the longer you’ll take to achieve what you want in the future.
I embrace my fears and knowingly accept failure now as just a part of the journey; it’s just a step that takes me closer towards my goal.
When I feel fear, I like to repeat to myself, “Thank you for trying to keep me safe ( in a comfort zone), but I got this…”
“Everything we want is on the other side of fear” – Robin Sharma.
I try to teach my daughters to appreciate failure as part of the process of achievement and success. I loved hearing that Sarah Blakely ( Spanx founder) was asked by her Father every evening, “what did you fail at today.” He expected to drive home to her to accept failure as just part of the process. Hence she credits her multi-billion dollar success with that lesson.