From pregnancy and breastfeeding to raising a toddler, the growth of Katrina Ward’s family has inspired the growth of her business, Outie.
Ward (Harington House 1996-97) launched her business about three years ago while pregnant with her first born Beau (three).
She didn’t favour the mainstream maternity clothing on offer and wanted something worthy of a space in her wardrobe. So, she designed a maternity and breastfeeding collection.
The most popular Outie piece is the Knocker Frock. It’s feminine, pretty and makes a woman feel good about herself.
In time for the messy toddler years, the mum of two launched the Splat Matt; a floor covering which keeps children’s food and play mess off the carpet. She also makes pillowcases, reusable wipes, swaddle blankets and custom art.
Ward says she has many return customers who have become “Outie dress addicts.”
She too is a self-proclaimed addict: “Everything I make is stuff I want for myself. I have a lot of dresses in my wardrobe, I have to try not to keep them.”
Ward says her following is predominantly from word-of-mouth and her popularity comes from her small, boutique business style in which her dresses are designed and printed to order.
All of the Knocker Frocks are produced in small quantities – a nice change from the mass produced products currently available to pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.
Ward insists on this small production for her customers but also for herself, she loves pattern making: “I don’t want to release too much of the same dress because I love to design different fabrics.”
The patterns on Ward’s Knocker Frocks and other products are all created from her personal textile designs and illustrations.
In September she self-published a colouring-in book, The Outie Colouring Book, with twenty of her original illustrations. The book is currently stocked at a series of small book stores across New Zealand and will soon be available online at Mighty Ape and Amazon.
Adult colouring in books are a huge trend for 2015 and, with the craft’s ability to bring about nostalgia of childhood years for colourers, it looks like it will stick around for a while.
Ward says as a child she was a colouring competition “fiend” who would scour the papers for competitions. Now, as an adult, she finds it relaxing.
“I like the idea that people can enjoy my textiles in a different form. I had a friend over the other night and we had a glass of wine and coloured in together. It’s a nice way to unwind.”
As an enthusiastic artist, Ward had her own key to the art room while at St Paul’s. After school she would paint and create in the art room rather than complete standard homework during allocated ‘prep’ hours with the other boarding students.
“In prep I just always wanted to paint. My love of drawing goes back to my school days.”
Her teachers fully backed her creativity and talent.
“That was my passion and St Paul’s was very good at encouraging me. Rodney Hammel and Mike Linklater were my art and art history teachers. Both of them would go above and beyond for me and I am still in contact with them today.”
Ward was Dux in 1997 and won the art award at St Paul’s end-of-year prize giving. One of the pieces that Ward created while at St Paul’s, a sculpture of a naked woman, is still on display in the Harington House garden.
Outie products and Ward’s colouring book can purchased at www.outie.co.nz.