Interview with Kathryn Hall, founder of Kath & Kin

Find our how upcycling old furniture while off work waiting for an endometriosis operation led to Kathryn Hall launching Kath & Kin. And how a mention from Mrs Hinch gave her business a huge boost.

When did you start Kath & Kin? 

I started the business around five years ago, we originally started out as Shabby 2 Chic Boutique before we rebranded back in June this year to Kath and Kin. I originally started out just upcycling old furniture whilst I was off work waiting for an operation, it was a great way to keep my mind busy in the run up to it.

I never imagined it turning into a business but here we are with our own team, 2,500 sq ft unit and more than 215,000 followers across our social channels. 

What did you do before? What led you to starting the business? 

Before Kath & Kin, I was working in a contact centre as a manager but started experiencing crippling abdominal pain. This led to me having lots of time off work which became incredibly difficult to deal with. Whilst I was off I started painting and upcycling old furniture as it really gave me a focus and was a great distraction for me which was a huge help for my mental health. 

What do you sell? 

We sell a variety of products, from storage jars to storage caddies as well as spray bottles and bathroom dispenser bottles for your shampoo, conditioner and other bathroom products.

The difference with our products is that we can personalise them to suit your home which makes them different to similar products you may be see in other shops.. We also sell personalised pet bowls and great gifts such as mugs, gonks and festive cuddly toys. 

Who’s your target audience?

The great thing about our products is that they can be for anyone. We have a variety of different styles of each product which means they suit almost any home – whether traditional or modern. 

Why should people buy from Kath & Kin?

I think in the times we are in we can all do our little bit to help the planet. The great thing about our products is that they are encouraging people to live a more sustainable life.

Rather than going out and buying loads of plastic bottles that just end up in the bin every week, you can buy the containers and fill your bottles up or even better visit a refill shop where you can take your own containers and fill them up which is limiting waste even more.

What’s been your most successful marketing strategy? 

I think the power of social media has been the biggest success especially for a business like mine. This is where we do most of our marketing and where pretty much all of our business comes from. Every like and share is so important to us as it means someone else is seeing the page. By following our social media this then leads people to our website.

Another popular time for us was the first Government lockdown, with more and more people spending more time in their homes due to the pandemic, the site went crazy with shoppers wanting to get their homes organised. It was one of our busiest times ever for us. 

What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome? 

I think it has to be my endometriosis diagnosis, by far one of the most difficult and challenging things I’ve had to deal with. Although it is what led me to start my business it was a really difficult time in my life as it didn’t just affect me but it affected my family and it still does now. I had to have an operation which meant lots of time off work and it was a really dark and not very nice time in my life for me and my family. 

And your proudest moment so far? 

There have been a few for sure however I think a real milestone moment for me was that first time Mrs Hinch shared one of our products. I remember walking my dog over the field when I saw Mrs Hinch had tagged me in her instagram story and I was so excited I started to scream.

People looking at me must have thought I was mad but I just didn’t care as I was so excited. She had one of our personalised bowls for her dog Henry and the day she shared it also happened to be the day she hit one million followers. Overnight we grew by 5,000 followers which was just amazing!

Why is work so important to you? 

I love that work gives me a focus, it gives me something to concentrate on and take my mind off of other things that may be going on. It’s almost like a way of escaping, they say if you love your job you’ll never work a day in your life and I really understand that now. I love what I do and I love that I am helping people to organise their homes whilst also having a positive impact on the planet in doing so. 

Who inspires you? 

My daughter Jessica is most definitely my biggest inspiration. I want her to see that if you believe in yourself then big things can happen for you. She has been by my side since I started the business and alongside my fiance is my biggest supporter. I want to give her the best life I possibly can, she inspires me everyday to work as hard as I can. 

How do you balance your work with your family and life?

I think it’s important to not get totally wrapped up in work. It can become so easy for it to take over your life and then you can end up missing out on major milestones in your family life without even realising and I don’t want that.

I think when running your own business you sometimes have to accept you can’t do everything all the time and as long as you remember that then you can have that ideal work-life balance. 

What are your three top pieces of advice for someone wanting to do something similar?

  1. Just go for it! If you’re going to do it then just go for it. If you spend all your time worrying about the little things then you may never end up doing it and that’s something you may live to regret. 
  2. Life is too short to be stuck in a job you don’t like when your passion is elsewhere. If you believe in your idea then there is nothing stopping you from giving it your all. I started out doing my business on the side so if it didn’t work out then there was always a fall back for me. However when it got to the point where I couldn’t manage the two that’s when I took the plunge and although a huge risk, because I believed in myself and my business I had the drive to make it work and make it a success. 
  3. You don’t have to be an expert at everything. Bring people in who can help you, for example I’ve got a team that help me create the products and pack them, a team that help me with the website and more technical side of things. No woman is a island! 

Find out more about Kath & Kin.