30 Jun Kitsentials, Mother, Designer, Sewer
We chat to mother, designer, sewer Mandy Hunt about her handmade children’s line and her little inspirations.
It truly gives me joy to create things, and to give others something handmade and unique. I have always wanted to do something creative, but have never known how or what to channel it into. When my first child Amelie was born, I taught myself how to sew and from there I have refurbished furniture, screen printed and made dolls.
Parenthood completely changed my world; it really made me think about what I wanted out of life and what kind of role model I would be for my children.
I previously worked as an HR Recruitment Manager for a Global Engineering company. After a brief stint of trying to juggle work and childcare, I left my career to become a full-time mum and creative. My goal is simply to have the flexibility to be with my children.
Kitesentials started with the joy of creating clothes for my daughters. I began getting a lot of comments about my work and it really went from there. I love fabric and often dream about the colours and patterns and what I can create.
I make handmade clothes for little girls. I sell kits of clothing, which might include a dress, tights and topknot for example, and then our vintage line makes one-off pieces from vintage or repurposed fabric. I take inspiration from my grandmother, who passed away last year. She left me a small bit of money and I decided to use it to launch Kitsentials.
I make my creations in my sewing room. It has a beautiful sash window that leads onto my children’s play area and is filled with light. I sew using my great aunt Edna’s Bernina sewing machine, which I love. I doodle a lot, so I might be out and think of a dress design and draw it, or I find a gorgeous piece of vintage fabric or a tablecloth and figure out what I can do with it.
My first year as a mum I was completely blissed-out. I had led such a busy life that having a little baby to look after felt like such a privilege and wondrous experience. I loved getting outside in the park with her and just relished every moment. I really didn’t know what to expect – I’m an only child, so it was all a bit of a surprise. I felt very overwhelmed with how much information there was to learn about health and milestones, etc. It is hard and worrying and very, very tiring, but joyous.
I would love even a half-day a week just to create. My children are up very early and it’s a very long day, and then my job starts at night. Right now, I try very hard to be super organised and do little bits and pieces as I can. I try hard to schedule what I can achieve in a nap-time.
There are so many talented creative mums in Australia. I think they should be celebrated, because it’s not easy juggling childcare and work, and its tricky being a stay-at-home mum and building a business. I think it’s important to buy Australian-made and support the local industry, which is why I design everything myself and manufacture everything locally in Brisbane.
The best creative advice I have been given is don’t be so hard on yourself. I tend to worry about every little stitch.
My aspirations for kitsentials are to keep it a locally-made and handmade label. I would love to release more kits per season, keep up my vintage line and increase my customer base. I’m not sure of the form my dream project might take yet, but I would love to collaborate with other creatives.
Mandy Hunt lives in Queensland with her husband Nic and daughters Amelie, four, and Isla, 14 months.
Photography by Kitsentials