Kathryn had a dream to do some good in the world, and make some really good pyjamas at the same time. So The Goodnight Society was born, a quirky, colourful sleepwear label for big dreamers and good nights. We chat with Kathryn to learn how that dream became a reality, and discover how a pyjama label can do so much more than just selling really nice looking sleepwear.
Tell us about your label The Goodnight Society and what the concept is behind it?
The Goodnight Society is a women and men’s sleepwear label I launched in mid-2014. It’s a label that is bold, colourful and slightly quirky, it’s about inspiring a bit of fun at bedtime, but also about inspiring people to chase their big dreams… and to help make the dreams of people in less developed communities come true.
All of our sleepwear is manufactured sweatshop free using certified organic cotton to make sure everyone in the supply chain is getting a good night’s sleep – right through to the end user. We also support the Heartfelt Project in South Africa through all of our purchases, and we’re just about to ramp this support up with our new Shine Bright Like a Diamond range, which will give 50% of profits to education projects for women and girls in South Africa. This kind of support is something we’re looking to do a lot more of with the label in 2015 and beyond.
What was the motivation behind starting your label?
I’d been working in corporate marketing roles for about 15 years and had just really lost my passion for climbing the corporate ladder and the stresses of a senior corporate job. I’ve always had a creative bent and knew I wanted to do something that allowed me to focus more on that. At first I took a six-month sabbatical to write a (terrible and unpublished) novel, before deciding I wanted to start a business that enabled me to use both my creative and business skills, while doing some good in the world.
The fact that business turned out to be a sleepwear label really just happened by chance. I thought there was a bit of a gap in the market in Australia for sleepwear that was fun and quirky but suitable for adults and sustainably made, and the business idea met all the criteria that I was looking for in a business, so I just decided to go for it.
How has your creative style developed over time and what inspires your work?
I’ve only just released my second collection, so I think my creative style is still in it’s infancy phase. But one thing is for certain – I don’t take myself too seriously when it comes to my creative style. I think pyjama prints are meant to be fun and a little outrageous, and if anything I just see my style getting bolder as my confidence grows.
At the moment it’s our quirky Australian culture, the things we love about life, and the things the people in my life love! That’s how I get Iced Vovos and Handyman into the same range. Pyjamas are very big in the gift giving market, so I’m constantly thinking about prints that people would look at and think ‘I just have to get that for so and so, they would just love that/it’s them down to a tee.’
What is your workspace like and what is your creative process?
I work from home in Hawthorne, Brisbane, where I have both an office and a warehouse space. I’m already packed to the rafters in the warehouse so it’s organised chaos! My Dad (my handyman inspiration!) built me an amazing workbench that we use to pack orders, lay out samples, and prepare for photo shoots. In my office I work from a handmade trestle table I got from Seven Hands High in Melbourne, overlooking my back courtyard. But to be honest, because I’m in a business that involves fabric manufacturing and loads of stock, I usually have ever-growing piles of fabric swatches covering my desk, and boxes lying around that my cat Roary tries to sleep in. It’s not all that glamorous.
I actually tend to work ‘on-the-move’ a lot – which is one of the benefits of working from home and being your own boss. Some days I’ll work from a café, some days I’ll work from a co-share space if I want more company, some days I work from my kitchen bench if I want to be close to all the snacks or the air conditioning. Laptops definitely bring new meaning to the term ‘flexible working’!
When it comes to my creative process, I usually think about ideas and look for inspiration for months, draw some sketches and then have a mad scramble the week before a deadline to bring it all to life! I have a very patient garment technician, Jo, and a very talented textile designer, Fran, who I collaborate with to make this happen. They have been indispensable to me in starting my business.
What challenges have you faced starting your own label, and what are some things you love about it?
Starting a business from scratch in an industry you have never worked in has no end of challenges. But although it’s hard work it can definitely be done.
I would say that one of the most challenging aspects has been the manufacturing process, particularly because I do my own prints. It’s quite complicated, and finding someone I can rely on and trust has proven quite tricky. I also find being the sole business owner can be challenging as the workload can be overwhelming at times, particularly if you’re like me and dabble in a second job (I still freelance as a marketing consultant). Lastly I’d say that manufacturing with organics and being sweatshop free is still pretty challenging too. It’s a lot more expensive to do and most consumers don’t have a real appreciation for this just yet, so it can be challenging to be price competitive while still doing small minimum runs. But it’s a non-negotiable for me.
But on the positive side? I’ve loved forming connections with other creative people, small business owners and start-ups – they are my new workmates and I find them really inspiring. I love being able to be creative in my work and create things that make people smile. And I love feeling like I’m contributing to something bigger than myself – whether it’s someone just telling me how happy their pyjamas make them, to knowing I’m helping the ladies at The Heartfelt Project to realise their own dreams.
What new plans do you have for the goodnight society this year?
I’ve just launched a set of pillowcases as part of my new Pillow Fight Club range, so that’s my first foray into bed linen which I’m hoping to continue. This year I’m also really excited about doing a print collaboration with one of my favourite designers, and I’m also going to crowd-source a design which I think will be a lot of fun. But most importantly 2015 is the year that I’m really ramping up my Dream Big Project, where we’ll be donating profits from the sales of select pyjamas to education projects for women and girls in South Africa to help them reach their dreams. By the end of the year I hope my pyjamas are really making a difference.