This year I decided to take part in March Meet the Maker, whilst this is usually run on instagram using the hashtag #marchmeetthemaker I decided to also blog for some of the days. I hope that you will join me on my March Meet the Maker journey. This year, day one’s prompt was ‘story’. So I thought it would be lovely to share a little about me and how Easterkins came to be, let's get started shall we?
Well this is probably one of the hardest things for me to write because quite frankly I don’t like talking about me.
My name is Emma Easter and I live in the beautiful Rhondda Valleys with my parents and Labrador Lilly. I studied Forensic Anthropology at university before going to work for a local charity.
Where I supported and enabled individuals with disabilities, learning difficulties and health conditions to find and maintain paid employment. This was a really interesting time for me as I too have a learning difficulty called Dyscalculia. I found getting a job near impossible due to this because I don’t have a GCSE in maths.
Unfortunately, I was made redundant from this role but I had learned so much and gained new ways to overcome my own barriers that I was able to get a job working in a Veterinary Practice as an Auxiliary Nurse. I left this role in 2017 to start my own business as a Professional Dog Groomer.
When I’m not grooming dogs or sewing and the weather is a bit kinder than it has been of late, I can often be found walking with Lilly on the local mountain paths with my camera in hand. To relax I love nothing more than sitting down to watch The Blacklist or more recently Star Trek: Picard……. Yes I’m a massive Trekkie!
Now enough about me, let's talk more about Easterkins and how it all began!
The Beginning of Easterkins
I began teaching myself to sew as a hobby, a way to keep me off the computer and to be able to make a few bits and bobs such as blankets. It wasn’t until my cousin announced that she was pregnant that I really considered trying clothing. I had been following a few fantastic pattern designers for babies and children, for some time and decided to buy a few different patterns to try.
My first make was an of age 2 Rainbow Romper in a beautiful rainbow stripe fabric and I instantly fell in love with them. It wasn’t long before I went crazy with pattern buying and I now have a pretty decent collection from loads of different pattern makers. This was helped along by my cousin sending me photographs of items she liked, so I’d scour the web looking for something similar.
As I was making items I started to add photos to my personal Facebook timeline and people started liking and commenting on them. Many asked how much I charged and whether I’d make for them. At that time I hadn’t even considered making items to sell, I really only started making for my family.
I started reading more on Facebook and continued posting my makes as and when I made them.
I spent a long time reading up on the UK’s textile and clothing regulations, I also sent a fair few emails to my local Trading Standards making sure I understood things correctly. I learned a lot about labelling requirements as well as spending loads of time reading up about OEKO-TEX and Global Organic Textile Standard or GOTS for short.
I was really keen on making sure that if I was going to sell anything that it would be done correctly with all the required information being stored and regulations followed.
It was also really important that I understood the cost implications involved with following all these regulations and sticking to certain standards. This is where it got pretty complicated and I got a bit stuck.
The Name and Logo
Easterkins is first and foremost me and my family, we are the Easters. Whilst I grew up hating my surname due to constant bullying throughout school. I came to truly love it and cherish its uniqueness after my paternal grandfather passed away in 2006.
We aren’t a large family in Wales, there was just my grandad, dad, mam and me until as I say my grandfather passed away, leaving just three. I can’t explain what changed but something did. I wanted this business to be personal, to represent the love of my family whilst also being unique and easy to remember.
For obvious reasons I couldn’t just go with Easter, after all it is a religious holiday! I needed a way to connect it more to me, to my family! That's when I started browsing through the dictionary and stumbled up on ‘kin’ a noun for one’s family and relations so I added the ‘s’ and the name Easterkins was born.
The logo was the next big headache, I didn’t want anything too elaborate but I also wanted something fun that also linked into the name. Now my first ever pet was a rabbit, who for all intent and purposes was the Easter Bunny. It was then that the thought popped into my mind about turning the ‘E’ onto a bunny.
Enter the bunny ears and tail….. I still wasn’t sold on the logo the dot above the ‘i’ was quite frankly boring so I decided to try a little heart there. After hours and hours of tweaking and colour research I finally settled on the logo you know today.
The 5 to 9 Club
I’d hit a wall so to speak, I’d researched and I knew people were interested but being Dyscalculic I was finding the number crunching difficult. I was getting myself all muddled up and I had no one to talk to about starting a business.
This is where I got really lucky! I was browsing through my Facebook timeline and came across a sponsored post about an after hours business course that was due to start in my local town. I jumped at the opportunity and signed myself onto the 5 to 9 Club by Welsh ICE.
This was by far the best decision I made, the 5 to 9 Club gave me everything I needed from, branding advice to legal info, marketing to website design and so much more! I’m so proud to say that though this course I also met some amazing new friends, that have encouraged me greatly! Lesley Williams is Welsh ICE’s Outreach Manager and the very first person I met from ICE.
When I first explained my business to her it was pretty wishy washy “I just sew” was one of my replies. It wasn’t until I showed Lesley some of the items I’d made and saw her reaction that I realised this could actually work. Through the weeks that followed I met some fantastic people and they are all business owners. I’m pleased to call many of them friends!
The very last session was our Pitch Night, where we had to pitch our business mainly to our peers but also to other business owners and key figures in the business world. I was so very nervous but by this point I knew that I could make sewing childrens clothing a viable business. Here are some photos of me pitching Easterkins.
Images Courtesy of GSD Media.
If you live in South Wales or even if you're just visiting I really recommend stopping by Welsh ICE which is in Caerphilly. It's a seriously awesome co-working space and I'll always be grateful to them for the help and support they have given me and Easterkins!
It’s really important to me that I make Easterkins as environmentally friendly as possible. That’s easier said than done in the fashion world and with the industry taking a beating due to fast fashion something needs to be done!
Don’t get me wrong I’ve shopped in many high street clothing shops, but over the last 15-20 years I’ve seen such a decline in quality. Many items are extremely cheap to buy and so many of us think nothing about just throwing away and getting a new item to replace. However, this is causing such major harm to the planet and environment.
I’m always looking for fabric providers closer to home that provide the quality in print and fabric that I want to work with. Trust me it's much harder than it looks! In regards to fabric I try to avoid waste, using off cuts too small for clothing in products such as our reusable makeup remover pads, etc.
I’m proud to say that every single item I make is done so with solar power. We’re lucky enough to have a few solar panels on the roof of our family home. This means that as long as there is light from the sun, every electric item in the home can be powered by renewable energy. This does mean I have to be selective about how many electrical appliances are on at one time, but once you get used to it, honestly it's pretty straight forward.
I’ve also opted to use Lil Packaging’s Lil Bags which are plastic free and ocean friendly, for sending my orders. For International orders I’m still looking at options for sustainable boxes.
I’m also pleased to say that when I drive to suppliers or to the post office I do so in a hybrid vehicle which significantly reduces our carbon footprint.
I know this has been a pretty long post but I really wanted to share my story with you, unfortunately it isn’t possible to write this much on instagram so I thought I’d expand on today's March Meet the Maker here. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about me and about how Easterkins came to be.
Join us over the rest of March either here or on Instagram to read more about our March Meet the Maker journey!
If you would like to join in with March Meet the Maker then you can find more information on the official website https://www.marchmeetthemaker.com