From bibs to business – How Cornish Daisy’s, Kate did it

Many of us dream of turning our hobby or passion in to a business. I’ve not found a way to get paid for drinking wine yet, but perhaps that isn’t the best route to go down. Not just yet, anyway!

Much more sensible is doing what Kate Wedlake from Cornish Daisy did. Kate always had a love of crafts and sewing.  She made clothes, bibs and other things for her children. One day, while out shopping, Kate had the opportunity to transform her crafty skills in to a business. Amazing.

Dreams don’t always start the way you originally think they might. Kate wanted to be a forensic scientist when she grew up. I think I told my Nan, years ago, that I wanted to marry a rich man when I grew up! ( I can live in hope we’ll become rich one day.)

Being a new mum myself, and finding it hard work, I was really impressed when Kate, a mum of four, (I know, FOUR) told me her story. I hope sharing this will inspire many of us to follow our dreams. Here’s how Kate turned her passion into the award winning, Cornish Daisy.

How did it all start?

By the time I had my daughter, all my sons were at full time school so I had time to have fun. I made so many gorgeous crazy colourful things for her it was great. The bibs were useful as she was quite a dribbler. I literally walked into a lovely shop one day, the lady who owned it loved the clothes my daughter was wearing and asked me if I would make them for her to sell. I really didn’t like the idea of sizes and seasons so said no, she asked me about the bibs, I thought about it and said yes, ok.

She ordered 90 on the spot.

Elsie modelling the bib!

Elsie modelling the dribble bib!

The kitchen table was my first workshop

It was hilarious our kitchen/ diner was where it all happened. I had one tower kitchen unit for fabric. The whole family joined in helping me cut out all the bibs. I came up with the name and labels, set up a really simple google website and we were off.

Quite quickly word got around. I spoke to a lady in a shop in Truro and she took on the bibs on a sale or return initially. They proved so popular she was my best customer. I currently stock 10 shops from Dorchester down to the Isles of Scilly. We sell our products on Amazon and our website.

Kate, busy at work

Kate, busy at work

Organic growth

It built up slowly. I wasn’t intending to do anything really until my daughter started full time school, but she is 6 now and the business will be 5 years old this April!

What was your biggest struggle?

Sourcing materials and storing them. I try and source all of my cotton in the UK and have even had some printed now, but the rag trade is only slowly coming onto the internet and living so far down the line it wasn’t easy. But after hours on the internet, numerous phone calls we are just about there.

And now, the biggest challenge is?

Postage prices. All of my products are very light so it was really difficult when royal mail changed their postage so everything up to 1kg is the same price.

Did you ever hit a really low point?

I think the lowest was when one of the local shops went bust owing me a fair bit of money. Luckily I had sort of seen it coming so had removed my stock, but they still owed me a fair bit. For a sole trader, that was quite hard. But because I had no debts and I ran my business from home (so no rent), we managed.

How many products do you make now?

I make the dribble bibs, the pod feeding bibs and blankets but in lots of different fabric designs and sizes. I also hand applique personalised blankets which is time consuming, but I really enjoy it.

cornish daisy products circleHow many do I make a year? A lot. I have industrial sewing machines now, and electric cutting machines.  

What has been your high point so far?

There are lots of high points; winning product awards, getting lovely reviews. When I am out and about with my daughter we quite often see Cornish Daisy goodies with cute babies and my daughter Zenna can’t help herself shouting “Look mummy they have your blanket” or “your bib”. It makes me giggle. We even went to Centre Parcs last year and saw one of my blankets there!

It’s great when you are contacted by mums in Australia, Germany, France, Austria, Dubai, who were sent some as presents and love them so much that they phone and order more over the phone.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you get some free time?

Going riding on our horses as a family. I love leading my daughter out on her pony in the sunshine in our beautiful countryside. She doesn’t stop telling me about every little thing: the trees; the birds; a butterfly; the cows; the sky. My husband and son usually riding along behind oblivious to her chatter. My eldest two like to go sailing on Stithians lake while we ride around it is very idyllic.

Top tip for running a business from home: get the whole family involved

When you get huge orders you weren’t expecting it can be quite crazy, I have been known to be sewing at 2am just to get orders out in time, but my family pitch in as well. They have all done their time poppering, sewing on labels and cutting to help me out.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Possibly to bring out a range of clothes at some point but with four children the horses, the dogs the land, the garden I’m not sure when it will be.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of turning their skill or hobby into a business?

Give it a try. I started off very small and grew organically. I didn’t take any loans, bought all my equipment 2nd hand and at no point had any debt. I know that isn’t always possible, I was lucky to be able to do it that way.

Great advice. And an inspirational story.

What do I think of Cornish Daisy products?

Kate kindly sent me a selection of her Cornish Daisy products to try. What struck me, from hearing Kate’s story and seeing the products, is that they are made with love.  The dribble bibs were brilliant (you can see my little Elsie modelling above). My daughter is teething and dribbling a lot. These bibs, by fabric and design, stay really dry underneath. They are beautifully soft and wash well. We also tried the pod feeding bib which allows you to pop and un-pop the bit that catches all the food, for ease of use and cleaning. Clever. (Definitely a Mum’s idea!) It’s easy to wipe clean and we loved the flowery pattern.

The soft snuggly fleece blanket is just perfect for this weather. Especially for things like nipping to the supermarket with just the car seat. I certainly don’t have a pram style foot muff for my car seat, so the blanket is perfect.

Feeling inspired?

I know there are a lot of crafty parents out there and talented creators of all things fabric and food. Are you going to give it a try? Next time you walk into a beautiful little shop, might you just wonder if someone will notice your creations? Dreams can come true you know!

 Let me know if it works for you, I’d love to hear your story.

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8 comments

  • I’ve been watching The Fixer recently and it’s so clear that running your own business, large or small, is not easy. I think a lot of people have too high expectations of what they can achieve to begin with. It totally takes time and for the first few years actual profit can be minimum. My husband is pretty creative and he dipped his toe in the waters of selling online but what he was making cost so much that he was hardly making a profit. Great to hear a success story! x

    #sharewithme

    • Yeah, it can be really hard work and very long hours. I think if you have the commitment, sticking power and most importantly love what you do, it can be really rewarding. But no, not always loads of money in it….
      There is definitely a lot more to think about than if you are an employee, that’s for sure. I’ve done both and love the freedom of running my own business but the extra hassle and hard work sometimes makes you long to be an employee again! Thanks for your comments x

  • Well Done! Mummy has her own businesses as well as blogging and running around after us four! #sharewithme

  • I have been job hunting forever and its my dream to find a job about something that I love doing. But I dont have talent and skills like her so goodbye dreams. #sharewithme

    • Ah Merlinda, don’t give up hope. There has to be something you are good at you could try and channel and build upon? Not all of us are lucky enough to have a craft. I’m rubbish at sewing! Each to their own! You can still have dreams to follow. We often have to do jobs we don’t like sometimes to make ends meet. Not ideal I know. It would be much nicer to do a job we love. Don’t give up on your dreams. I hope you find something soon.

  • Ahhh way to go creative lady. That’s amazing and what an accomplishment for sure!! Be so proud of yourself. Lovely post. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me. #sharewithme

  • How truly wonderful! What an inspiring story from Kate. I bet one of my local shops stock her products – I shall be on the look out now 🙂 Thank you for linking to #PoCoLo x

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