When did you start KLAY and what was your motivation behind doing so?
Almost all of the clothes and textiles I own are items I have made myself and it has been that way since I was very young. I also enjoy making things for family and friends and all of the KLAY items I now sell are staple things I have made for myself and friends for years.
I ordered some KLAY clothing labels a few years ago and started putting a "name" to the projects I do. So really, KLAY has been an on going private project for years, but it wasn't really until 2016 when I got a website and an instagram account and started working on everything together to be sold to the public that I could start to see it become a full time project.
It was something I had wanted to do for years, but there was always something that made it difficult. It was a fine balance of having both time and money to take the leap into producing things in larger quantities to sell, rather than just one offs.
It happened organically and with the support of some very kind young designers who encouraged me to get the things I had been making out there. Zelda Murray helped me come up with the name KLAY, then Leilani Heather and Rob Byrne had an online shop called 'Bon Weekend' a few years ago, where I first sold KLAY goods - quilted throws and some original KLAY bags I made. This was the real start of KLAY.
Can you tell us a little about how your pieces come together, about your process as makers & the people you collaborate with?
All the KLAY items are things that I had made out of practicality: The hats are something I spent years perfecting and made about 25 different versions of that I would wear on walks to protect my scalp from getting burnt in harsh NZ sun! The bags are something that also evolved over years - the ideal comfy strong everyday bag for carting shopping home, but something that I could wear even when not taking shopping home!
The cushions are items that I made for myself as a treat, but also something that I could sit on while sewing, or have in bed as a head prop for reading.
The process of the designs of KLAY items comes from a desire to have practical and beautiful things that get better over time that I want to have myself. In order to have an object that lasts and is treasured, the process of how that item is constructed is really important to me. For example with the cushions, they are not just stuffed with feathers or cushion fluff, to get my ideal forms is a labour intensive process, I hand sculpt these from often 5 different layers. The final cushion is a result of many discarded samples and a lot of creative thinking about texture, weight and durability.
When I started KLAY I mostly used limited run fabrics that was end of run meterage from international designers - making do with what I could starting out as a small business. But slowly over the last year as the label has grown I have started to add some staple items that are made from on going available fabric from other wholesalers. Because at this stage KLAY is still such a small business I can not afford to import fabrics directly myself and being in NZ we do not have a huge range of wholesalers to source fabric from, so buying end of run fabric from importers that buy international designer dead stock works well for me, the limited fabrics are so beautiful - interesting colours and incredible quality, so it is great to incorporate those special limited run pieces in amongst the staple fabrics/ items.