Cath Kidston’s success storyNovember 30, 2014
Catherine Isabel Audrey Kidston known better as Cath Kidston is an inspiring success story. Her humble beginnings show that with a little business savvy and some well thought out marketing, everyone has a chance of building a successful business.
Cath Kidson – Original store
Twenty years ago Catherine Isabel Audrey Kidston was serving tea at her “junk shop” in Holland Park following a recovery from breast cancer. A year ago she opened a large flagship store in the heart of Piccadilly, London. It’s a long way from where she started.
Cath Kidston patterns are distinctive, and cover a vast line of products in the hundreds, as well as a bespoke furniture service that’s every bit as successful.The flowers and polka dots of Kidston’s well-known patterns are as popular as ever and show no signs of waning.
Kidston trained originally as an interior designer working for Nicky Haslam. Her first “junk” shop,as she referred to it, was opened in 1994 in Holland Park. She started out with a £15,000 budget selling hand embroidered tea towels and renovated furniture. Using her own ideas and some astute marketing skills she attracted the right clientele and slowly started to see success.
Imagination and innovation
Surplus duvets covers were cleverly turned into other items to sell such as wash bags, cushions and coat hangers. This was to be her first collection, and it just goes to show that with a little imagination and spontaneity you can do anything. What’s amazing about Kidston’s story is that her business empire has been built on taking vintage finds and turning them into something else. Reworking what already exists, a real incentive for those who enjoy upcycling and recycling. Antique fairs were fair game in the early days for a little inspiration, and they’ve served her well, providing her with ideas to create her own lines.
She would use trade fairs in order to expose herself to a wider clientele and it was to be a resounding success, the brand became more widely known and her distinctive patterns and colours were a hit with the middle classes.
The success story spread….
Close to the start of the millennium Cath Kidston had stores all over London and collaborations with other brands would follow, leading her business to wider success overseas. Kidston hasn’t looked back since. Her products are affordable, but with a hint of exclusivity about them. Mugs and bags sell by the bucket load with the red spotted day bag at £50 selling at least 4 every 5 minutes.
Cath Kidston range, Classy, accessible, vintage
Cath Kidston’s classy but accessible range is an attractive one, she has now created her own vintage range that no doubt will have inspired others to do the same, and interestingly perhaps, inspire someone to turn her distinctive fabrics into something completely different too one day.
Kidston’s own familiarity with colour and pattern has clearly stayed with her and infused her ideas with rose prints, polka dots and bright colours. But this isn’t beyond the average person in the street, how many times have you seen a fabric or print that you know would look quite good as something else?
Take a duvet cover and turn it into a wash bag…..
Her website is a cornucopia of delights and the Christmas section is a real treasure trove of Kidston favourites – the polka dot bag, the rosy patterns on a white background, providing a plethora of products from teapots to pencil cases, aprons to wallets. Her products are affordable and there’s something for everyone, staying safe, but offering something for both young and old, from children to adults,a market that doesn’t strive to be all things to everyone, but manages to all the same.
Could you do it?
What makes it so delightful is the fact that anyone could do this, go to any junk shop, antique store, second hand thrift shop, search for fabrics, or dresses, duvet covers, quilts and turn them into something else. Look at geometric colours, psychedelic swirls of the 60s and 70s, prints that are no longer available -you could easily turn them into wallets, pencil cases or bags.
All you need is a sewing machine and a little imagination – oh and of course perhaps a few sewing skills wouldn’t go amiss. Put something old along with something new, an old flowered fabric with a piece of suede, an old quilt with some new satin. If this doesn’t give you the incentive to run down to your nearest vintage store, or rummage through your granny’s wardrobe, I don’t know what will.