This week in our ongoing Meet the Maker series, we’re proud to introduce our very special Australian friend and client Kathryn Green of The Smallest Tribe! Kathryn is currently in the home stretch of a Kickstarter campaign that aims to raise $10,000 AUD, which will fund moving The Smallest Tribe from a home studio into full production in an Ethical Clothing Australia certified manufacturer, helping to provide local jobs at a time of economic uncertainty. Enjoy learning more about Kathryn below, and be sure to check out The Smallest Tribe on Kickstarter before the campaign ends on August 30th at 4:00 a.m. Eastern time!
LBC: What inspired you to take your leap as an entrepreneur?
Kathryn: As much as I loved my career as a teacher and still miss being in the classroom, I wanted something that gave a little more freedom and flexibility in my life to be around for my young family.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Kathryn: I started The Smallest Tribe to create kid-friendly, GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified organic cotton clothes. I wanted to improve the way we dress our kids to allow them the freedom and comfort they need to truly engage with and explore their surroundings, which is so important for brain development and is such an easy way to get them off to a great start. I also wanted to do it in a way that honoured and respected the workers who grew the cotton and those who made the clothes.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Kathryn: Comfy, fun and never serious. The Smallest Tribe is about letting kids be kids!
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Kathryn: You can find them online at www.smallesttribe.com/shop.
LBC: Walk us through your typical work day.
Kathryn: I have a young family, so my typical work day is anything but typical or regular. The one constant is that I always check in with emails first thing so I know what sort of orders will be going out that day and if there are any urgent issues that need dealing with. After emails, I’ll check in with the day’s “To Do” list that I’ve sat down and written the night before. When I’m only able to snatch 20 minutes here, an hour there, I need to be able to start working immediately – instead of spending that 20 minutes trying to decide what to do next.
LBC: What are 3 things makers should think through when they decide to start a business?
Kathryn: 1. I think it’s really important to know you ensure that you can scale what you make. You don’t need to know exactly how to do that from the very beginning, but I think it’s a good idea to be aware of what challenges you might face as your business grows.
2. Definitely have an idea of what you want to achieve with your business and where you want to go. You don’t have to stick to that and you can change your mind, but if you don’t know what you’re working towards it’s really tricky to know whether you’re making the right decisions to move forward or not. I think the best way to do this is to always be able to answer the question, “Where do you see your business in 5 years time?”.
3. If you want a successful business, you have to be willing to learn how to run a business and accept that a lot of your time will be spent doing just that. Having a creative business doesn’t mean you get to make all day, every day.
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Kathryn: Remembering why I started The Smallest Tribe and focusing on what I want it to achieve. For me, that has very little to do with me, with having a business and with making money. My focus and aim is to dress kids in age-appropriate clothes that are fun and comfy, and to make those clothes in a way that respects and honours the workers in the fields and in the factories. When I focus on those people – the kids who’ll be wearing them and the workers who’ll be making them – it’s very easy to stay focused and move forward.
LBC: Tell us about a few of the best business decisions you’ve made to date.
Kathryn: Well apart from LBU, because that’s a given (I was very much someone with an idea vs. someone with a business before I started), any time I’ve put myself and The Smallest Tribe out there has always paid off. Making the effort to take The Smallest Tribe on the road to one of Australia’s best design markets, The Finders Keepers, has really paid off for me. The other thing I’ve had to learn is less business and more personal, but I’ve stopped thinking of me and The Smallest Tribe as one entity. It much easier to focus on The Smallest Tribe as a business than an extension of me. When something goes wrong, it’s far easier to move forward when the focus is, “Well, that wasn’t the right move for The Smallest Tribe”, vs. “Well, I really stuffed that up; here, let me berate myself for the next 3 weeks.” (!!)
LBC: Please share one mistake or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back/overcome it?
Kathryn: This is actually something my husband learned when he was an apprentice carpenter, and I think it works for just about anything, literally and figuratively: “Measure twice, cut once.” Before you commit to anything big, double check your math and your decision making process, slow down, and leave it a day. I’ve made some very expensive mistakes because I was too impatient to slow down and didn’t take the extra day I would have needed to get it done, or double check that I couldn’t get the same thing somewhere else cheaper, easier or faster.
LBC: Is there a cause or organization that you contribute to that you’re particularly passionate about?
Kathryn: I donate monthly to a local organization Foundation 18 who run an orphanage in Bali, and also regularly donate to Unicef. The Smallest Tribe is for kids and inspired by kids, so it’s important to me to do what I can, no matter how small it may seem, to contribute to causes that help children worldwide.
LBC: What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
Kathryn: 1. My Get Sh*t Done notebook from Mi Goals.
3. This last one is so cliche. I tried to think of an actual thing that would be helpful to others, but the reality is, resilience. You absolutely must have resilience and capability to get back up every time you get knocked down because you are going to get knocked down a lot.
(Ok, an actual thing would have to be the timer on my phone! If you struggle to stay on task like me, setting a timer and committing to 10 mintues, 15 minutes, 60 minutes of getting a set task done is invaluable.)
LBC: Suppose we had a time machine. If you blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Kathryn: The Smallest Tribe will be in stores around the world, and even though the current focus is Australian made, I hope to also be a brand that is manufactured in GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified factory in a developing economy, providing safe, clean, fair working conditions and a living wage to people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity.
LBC: Which Lucky Break program have you been a part of and did it prove helpful?
Kathryn: LBU was incredible. It was so nice to finally learn from someone who’d actually walked the path before me, not someone who was just telling me what to do like so many consultants or business coaches out there. I was a creative with a career as a teacher. I’d never heard of COGS, didn’t know how sales reps worked, didn’t think trade shows applied to me and my business. I definitely went from being someone with an idea to someone who finally identified as an entrepreneur.
LBC: What’s one thing you would eat, if you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life?
Kathryn: Pepperoni Pizza!
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
Kathryn: Audio books. I think this means there’s something wrong with me..?
LBC: What’s your favorite quote and who said it?
Kathryn: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
Thank you, Kathryn, for sharing your talent with us! We absolutely love your work and we look forward to all the wonderful things ahead for The Smallest Tribe! We’re cheering you on…
Want to see your brand featured in our continuing “Meet the Maker” series? Drop us a line: hello AT luckybreakconsulting.com. Please use “MEET THE MAKER” as the subject line and be certain to include your web address. We look forward to hearing from you!