Global success follows a pattern

CRAFTY BUSINESS: Katie Brown, owner of Papercut Patterns in her Richmond home and studio.
CRAFTY BUSINESS: Katie Brown, owner of Papercut Patterns in her Richmond home and studio.

A Richmond business has capitalised on a global trend towards all things home-made and is now selling its clothing patterns online to eager customers in 26 countries.

Papercut Patterns owner Katie Brown opened her business in 2010, and still remains the only seller of clothing patterns for home sewers in New Zealand.

"In the world, there's probably eight," she said.

Customers can buy her patterns from the business' website, choosing from an array of collections designed by Ms Brown.

A self-taught fashion designer, she also studied at the Design and Arts College of New Zealand, in Christchurch.

She started the business after finishing her course and moving to Auckland. While working at a fabric store, she designed and made her own clothing patterns, attracting interest from her customers.

She realised she could market the patterns, selling them to customers, rather than following the traditional route of becoming a designer and selling completed clothing.

"To make a name for yourself is so hard as a designer because it's such a completely saturated market."

There had been a global trend towards handicrafts, particularly among young people, she said.

"Because I was working in the fabric store I saw how many girls were coming through wanting to make their own clothes, whereas it used to be sewing was this old lady thing."

Ms Brown runs the business out of a room in her home, designing clothes and printing out the patterns on a large-format printer which runs along an entire wall of the room.

The machine will soon be joined by another machine to automate the folding process, freeing her from a task that would take days and "sand" off her fingertips.

Ms Brown said 90 per cent of her sales were to overseas customers, with patterns shipped to the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States, including locations as remote as Alaska.

Most heard of her patterns through prominent bloggers, rather than through established magazines, but her patterns were about to be featured in UK fashion magazine Glamour.

She is also poised to launch a new intiative, teaming up with New Zealand fashion designer Brooke Tyson, who will design a pattern to be sold exclusively through the site.