Our special art & design inspired Mama of the Month is one third of the bright, bold, colourful and beautiful bedding and lifestyle brand Kip & Co. Since beginning in 2012, the brand has become huge nationally and gained cult status. Introducing Hayley Pannekoecke.
How did the Kip & Co journey begin and how did the name come about?
I’d been at home for two years with my then babies, and was ready for a creative outlet and to do something for myself again. After a trip to the US the need for some fashion bedding in Australia became very apparent so we began brainstorming how to go about this and put it out to our gorgeous friends to help us name the new baby. And so Kip & Co was born, with reference to our fave thing to do – “have a Kip” when you’re a little tired or on holiday in the afternoon following a long lunch and plenty of sunshine!
What did you do before Kip & Co?
Both my parents were entrepreneurial, so I wanted to really follow in their footsteps and have my own business. I did a degree in Natural Medicine, a Bachelor of Health Science and then Kate (my sister and also a co-founder of Kip & Co) and I opened up an organic store in Hawthorn. We traded in organic fresh fruit and vegetable, wine, meat and had a café and offered yoga. We’d been exposed to natural health as both of our parents went through illness when we were kids. I left and had kids and we sold the business.
For Mamas yet to discover Kip & Co, what can they expect?
Fresh vibrant and stylish bedding and lifestyle products. We’re certainly not afraid of colour or pattern and our fave is a mish-mash of all. Colour is really what we’re known for and people have embraced the colour and seem to really love it. When we go into product design, while staying true to the Kip & Co identity, we also make sure there are some accent pieces and co-ordinates, as not everyone will want the bold trademark things that we do. Our products are high quality cotton and a premium-bedding product.
What do you like most about what you do?
We love the creativity and the flexibility of what we do. We have a really fun time with it all and enjoy every minute working together on products we are really passionate about and creating pieces that are truly who we are and represent our style. There are no cookie cutter products/designs in our ranges- what you get is part of us.
Three of you started the company, what roles do you each play?
Yes there are three of us which works well as there is so much involved in a growing business of our size. We each have carved out individual roles, but we also do a lot of it together. As the business gets bigger and bigger though, we are separating out the roles even more so. Alex, who was a uni friend of Kate – takes care of contracts/logistics/ HR and media. My sister Kate takes care of the purse strings and works closely with me on design, while I look after all our shoots and work on PR and design with the girls. There are so many other things always going on but these are a few of the areas we each take care of. As the business has grown we have been able to employ others into the business to manage areas such as our wholesale business. We put a lot of time into our social media, which has been huge for us. Especially Instagram. I spend a lot of time responding to people who leave comments there and have built a real little Insta family. We really value the comments, support and feedback. It’s an important part of the identity and personality of our business.
How do you balance the work and your children?
It is getting easier as all the kids – Floyd 5, Baye 6, Chloe 9 – are now at school, but it certainly has been a juggling act of sorts. The nitty gritty of it is that you need to set up your network of support which would likely include babysitters, child care or after school care. We work a lot at night to enable us to be a part of every day activities with the kids and their kinders and schools. Often though we are travelling or on shoots or working long hours and you just need to be able to rely on others. A supportive partner is especially helpful. My husband also runs his own business. Great local babysitters! Luckily my work lifestyle is pretty flexible. Don’t try and manage it all yourself or you certainly won’t enjoy the ride!
What key advice do you have for other aspiring business mums?
Get in and give it a crack. Don’t over commit more than you can afford both financially and physically. It can be a real stretch sometimes so set up a good support network around you to help you achieve what it is you want. Support network is key, even if you don’t have grandparent support, create that support system. Get the babysitters – I’ve had the same 3 or 4 great girls helping out over the past 8 years. Get your product out there through as many channels as you can. We did a few trade fairs, notably Life Instyle in our first season. And have fun with it. I’m a better mother for having this business as it has kept me sane doing something for myself.
Are there any key developments or products in the pipeline that you can share with us?
Yes we are working on baby sleeping bags Yay!! Togs and all- they should be amazing. We are also taking Kip to the USA in 2017.
And finally, where can we find you?
Me personally – hanging out on the Bellarine Peninsula! And Kip & Co can be found at www.kipandco.net.au
Join us on Instagram @kipandco