Harnessing creativity – Cath Rollinson

Cath Rollinson is the creative mind behind Bumble bee and me, a clothing line for children that uses extremely cute fabrics and clever designs to keep kids cosy, comfy and adorable.

Cath is a former colleague of mine, and I was always fascinated with how she juggled her workload, her two lovely daughters and her burgeoning new business – so I decided to profile her to find out!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a born and bred Canberran. I love it here and will probably never leave. I am married, with two little girls.

I spent nine years working in the community and aid and development sectors, and have recently started my first government job.

I am currently studying and also have a small sewing business, Bumble bee and me.

When did you start sewing? And what do you love about it?

FB_IMG_1436166083242I learnt to sew in home economics/fashion and textile technology at school. When my eldest daughter was about 18 months old, I came across some patterns that I liked and decided to drag out the old machine and have a go. I love that I can make unique things for my daughters to wear and they love wearing mummy-made clothes.

Women have shared and passed on skills like sewing and other crafts with their daughters for centuries before me. I know it sounds daggy, but I love that I can be a part of that and share this with my girls in the years to come.

I remember when I was going into year 11, the head of the maths department approached me and told me that she was concerned that I had elected to do sewing in college, as she didn’t feel that it was a very strong subject to fall back on after I would have to drop out of double major maths. Well college-level maths hasn’t taken me places, but here I am, making beautiful handmade clothes for my daughters and other little ones. It is probably the most practical skill I learned at school!

What’s the idea behind Bumble bee and me?

As a business, Bumble bee and me is about making simple, fun clothes for kids that they will love to wear.

On a personal level, it is not about making money and being able to leave my day job. It is about making time to do something that I enjoy, using my creative side and sharing my love of handmade with others. If I make a little bit of money out of something I enjoy, then that’s a bonus.

How do you come up with designs and choose fabrics?FB_IMG_1436166161887

The clothes that I make are simple in style, but are made out of bright, fun and unique fabrics that kids love.

We’re only little for such a small portion of our lives. I believe that kids should dress like kids, not adults. They should wear shorts that have dinosaurs mowing the lawn on them, or a dress covered in girl super heroes. Girls should be able to wear skirts with ninja turtles or batman on them if they want to.

It’s a cliché, but how do you balance all the things in your life? Your business, family, work?

Not very well!

I work full time, study, have two very active little girls, and my business. I also try to have a life. I feel like I am not meant to say this, but I can’t actually do everything at the one time and feel like I’m doing any of it well! I just try my best and focus my energy on the top priority on any given day.

What’s one thing you absolutely have to do before you die?

If you asked me that 10 years ago, it would definitely have been to travel through Asia, or something amazing like that. These days my ‘bucket list’ is a lot simpler, or is it? Before I die, I absolutely must ensure that my daughters are strong, independent women, who know that they can be whatever they want.

What’s your favourite way to relax?

When you have young children, it doesn’t seem that you have much time to relax!

To enjoy myself, I love finding fun and interesting things to do with my little family and catching up with friends. I also love to sit and sew, conveniently!

What’s some advice for someone wanting to turn their passion into a business?

I have two pieces of advice:

  1. Know what it is that you want and where you want it to go. Do you want to be able to give up your day job, or is it something on the side?
  2. Value yourself and what you have to offer. You will need to put a price on yourself, and if you don’t have the confidence to charge what you’re worth, you will never make any money.

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