Catherine Lee has been making sweet things from fabric since she was a wee one, but recently she’s dedicated herself to making charming garments for dogs. After gazing at her Etsy store Bambino and Bone (and having a little squealing session), we asked the good lady Catherine all about her life as a crafter, pooch-lover and small business lady. Scroll down to have a read of our chinwag.
Tell us a bit about yourself, please. My name is Cat. I’m a 30-year-old Capricorn living in Newcastle with my man-friend and fur baby Norma.
How did you get started making textiles? I grew up in a family filled with creative types: potters, painters, woodworkers, folk artists (amen to the ’90s), cake decorators and sewers. So when I was a little lady, I was taught how to craft and create the things that I liked using recycled items or leftover materials.
What inspired you to launch Bambino and Bone? For the past few years I have entertained the idea of opening an Etsy store, but I couldn’t fully commit. Between working full-time and completing a university degree, it just wasn’t happening. Once I graduated last August, I had a mild flip-out and felt guilty that I wasn’t doing anything productive. After several cups of tea and talks with my sister, we discussed that there is a really large market for children and baby goods – but in my situation, my baby has four legs, fur and likes to bark at the wall in the middle of the night. The mass-produced dog accessories and dog clothing market really didn’t suit Norma’s personality or my own personal tastes, so I decided that I could use my skills to create products for pooch parents, while raising money for the wonderful folk who care for the welfare and rights of animals.
What fabrics do you use to make your wares? My current stock is made from a mix of cotton, and any vintage fabric that I can get my mitts on. I love prints that are a little old fashioned or unique. They remind me of the fabrics my nanny used to sew with. I’m also conscious of consumption and trying to find the best ways to ensure the products are created in ways that are not harmful to the environment. Wastage is a no-no and sustainability, the go-go.
Have you faced any challenges running Bambino and Bone so far? Procrastination is often the name of my game. It’s a huge hurdle for me, especially when I have all these really big dreams and ideas of what I want to do – so much so that I become overwhelmed and just start to dawdle. Another challenge for me: social media. I’m naturally quite private and have a hard time getting ‘out there’ on Instagram and Facebook (unless it’s nagging my friends about animal welfare). To help overcome my fears, I joined the Etsy Resolution program to get some insights and tips on how I could improve my marketability on Etsy and presence on social media. Being able to connect with other creatives who were starting out and receiving guidance from those who were already successfully established with Etsy really helped improve my confidence. Since implementing the changes to my store and Instagram account, my discoverability has really increased both within Australia and overseas (particularly in the United States). I have only been open a short while, but have found that traffic to my store is increasing each and every day.
How many accessories should be in a dog’s wardrobe? As many as you can cram in! Every furry bambino has a little personality or character about them. They might be a grumpy old soul, a sassy diva or chilled out critter. I think it’s important to bring that out in their appearance; it allows you to bond and be creative.
Are there any other brands of pooch accessories that you love? I really like Bound to Roam. They are a local small business who make charming collars and coloured leads. They also donate five per cent of their sales to Pet Rescue, which is wonderful.
To see Catherine’s full range of pooch-wear, pop past Bambino and Bone on Etsy.