Kobi Brown is one clever lady. With a diploma in fashion, she was perfectly equipped to start her own clothing label and after the birth of her first born, she found her forte’ in kid’s clothing with a vintage twang. Being as creatively talented as she is, it goes without saying that she pretty much nailed it.
We fell in love with her latest, dapper inspired, spring/summer range and were over the moon to be able to interview and share her words & clever style with the rest of you.
A CONVERSATION WITH KOBI BROWN…
What made you decide “i’m going to start a children’s clothing label”?
I’ve forever enjoyed getting creative and back in 2005 I studied Fashion Design so the ‘passion for fashion’ really was something I wanted to pursue I just wasn’t sure how. In the lead up to having my first bub Harvi, I went crazy on the sewing machine making bibs, bloomers and little outfits and it all seemed to be getting quite a positive response from friends and family. Since discovering the possibilities in the children’s fashion industry I guess I just thought well why not!?
What was it that inspired your style, what made you choose such a specific look and how did you settle on ‘vintage inspired’?
A lot of what inspires me when creating the Alfie look is influenced from my childhood, dancing Rock’n’Roll and Swing from the age of 11 and just my huge love for the early eras; 1920′s-1960′s. People had so much class and flare! The music was also better and everything just has so much more character.
How did you go about making your first sales?
Well thanks to a few good friends who demanded that I take money for the things I would make for their children, they were my first sales. I then approached The Village Markets in Burleigh and soon after I was selling up a storm every second Sunday.
Once you realised that your kids clothing was in demand, what did you do about expanding?
It was a little bit of a catch 22 because although I wanted to sell out it would mean there was going to be a week of all-nighters on the sewing machine to follow. I really wanted to keep the handmade aspect but with 2 kids, who was I kidding, there is no time for making 40 pairs of pants, heaps of bibs etc. during the week. So I have now expanded and taken on board a couple of local seamstresses to help with the work load and I look forward to what the future holds for Alfie.
Have you ever looked back? If so, for what reasons?
There are times when I spend a day in the dungeon (sewing room) and I feel like I really haven’t spent enough time with the kids but I guess what keeps me going forward with reaching my goals is the huge support I have from family and friends, and I really do have the flexibility to create a balance between being a business owner and a devoted mother. I have been really lucky also to find enjoyment and growth in a career that I am completely passionate about.
After having Banjo, how have you been able to manage your time so efficiently. Has it been a struggle to fit it all in!?
I always thought I was so organised… since having kids though I really don’t know what happened haha! I guess when I am determined to do something I can act pretty efficiently. I’ve got a bit of a routine now and have help from my family as well as Harvi going to daycare 2 days a week. I’ve also got a lot more time to do the pattern-making, grading and orders etc. now that I only have 1/3 of the amount of actual sewing to do. It’s really been all about trial and error and also prioritising!
Do you see a future for Alfie and what have you got telling you that you’re moving in the right direction?
I do see a future in Alfie, whether it be a big or small one I can’t be guaranteed but the feedback I have daily tells me that I am moving in the right direction. There is never enough of anything or anyone in any industry and everyone has a different journey so there will always be a following when you have the right attitude.
What are your absolute hopes and dreams for Alfie? I want to know what the pinnacle of your career as a designer would be?
My absolute hopes and dreams for Alfie is to have a consistent, well-made, unique and loved clothing label that I will be able to continually get satisfaction out of building and that offers financial stability for my little family. Oh and wait, it would nice to be the next Stella McCartney or Bonds!?
Can you tell us a bit about designing for children and where you find inspiration for your designs?
I have 2 very co-operative children who play dress-ups for me, so I am able to really get an idea of the fit and versatility of any design I come up with. I love getting inspiration from Little Golden Book’s and collecting old patterns from the op-shops. There really is no limits with children’s clothing but it helps to have a particular ‘look’ that you are going for, as well as the will to take risks.
how do you go about finalising a design and hoping or having a gut feeling that it will be a hit?
Well I guess when I decide on a style or design I am aware that maybe not everyone will like it, but if it’s comfortable and my trendy mum friends approve then it probably won’t fail too badly! Because I’ve also been making children’s clothing for a few years now and without a doubt come up with some styles that just don’t fly out the door. It’s those sorts of things that help make the next style even better!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
No idea!! The kids will both be at school 5 days a week (eek!) so I guess hopefully busy creating Alfie designs and still loving my job!
What would you consider to be you ‘biggest Alfie achievement’?
I feel a massive sense of achievement whenever I am approached by customers with great feedback or I am out somewhere and I see a cute kid that I’ve never met rocking Alfie!
PHOTOGRAPHY | JENNA AGIUS
INTERVIEW | SOPHIE GIDOOMAL