wild island mama disrupt

From Maternity Leave to #BOSSMAMA: The Making of Wild Island Apparel

In Boss Mama, Career, Features, MD Rated, Stories, Work by Nicole Fuge

By Kerrie Simon-Lawrence

In those early days of mamahood… you know, when you’re trying to remember your own name, let alone when you last showered, you’d be forgiven for staying in your pyjamas for weeks on end and doing little more than sipping tea and sniffing that newborn smell.

Try telling that to Kate Causon, who took maternity leave from her day job as a lawyer, but used the time to balance being a supermama to Madison with launching a new business. Talk about the ultimate side hustle!

wild island mama disrupt

“Becoming a mum, I quite quickly learned to get comfortable with the fact that I didn’t know everything, that something might work one day and not the next, that I needed to always be flexible and adapt to constant change and that I had to be ready for higher highs and lower lows than I was used to. I didn’t realise it until later, but these things are also true in running your own start-up business. Becoming a mum actually taught me many of the attributes I needed to be an entrepreneur.”

Having lived in Europe for a couple of years with hubby Levi, and being inspired by the Scandi aesthetic, Kate built a brand that reflected the values of quality, longevity and timeless style… and so her rad kids clothing label, Wild Island Apparel, was born – a collection of gender-neutral threads for your minis, designed to withstand even the craziest of adventures.

Like the #BOSSMAMA she is, Kate backed herself and her brand from the get-go, dropping a big chunk of savings into the first bulk order. She also had boxes of stock stacked in her lounge room when Wild Island Apparel launched in August 2018 – which was also her first week back at work!

Kate then asked (bribed with lollies) the kids of friends to appear in photoshoots and had them “adventure test” the clothing – and the result was awesome.

wild island mama disrupt

“We had a really positive response from the beginning. Everyone was impressed with the quality and unique nature of the clothing, but the thing that got us even more excited was how well our customers seemed to ‘get’ what the brand was about, with it inspiring them to explore their natural environment more. We’ve had so many customers send in the most incredible photos of their kids exploring their local tracks, parks, forests and beaches in our clothes! In terms of growing the brand in these early days, we couldn’t have asked for anything better than having customers genuinely believing in the label and telling their friends about it. Our tribe has found us.”

Wild Island is clearly kicking some serious butt… with Kate now turning what was originally a side hustle into her full-time gig!

And while Kate’s daughter Madison, two, offers her ‘assistance’ by packing orders, she also gets to see firsthand just how ambitious and inspiring her mama is.

“I love being a mum, but I’ve always had a creative side and I love challenging myself and trying new things. I wanted to explore the idea of starting something of my own where I could use and develop a broader range of skills, and have the flexibility and sense of ownership and fulfilment that comes with having your own business.”

Living life on the wild side, for sure!

wild island mama disrupt

5 things you didn’t know about Wild Island

1 // Inspo behind the brand

Kate spent a lot of time outside as a child, climbing trees and exploring beaches and riverbanks. She now wants Wild Island to empower and inspire both girls and boys to embrace their spirit of adventure and find their own moments of incidental adventures in between the busy-ness of life.

2 // Ups and downs of business

It can be a rollercoaster… at one point the trademark for a previous name for the label had been rejected, and when they received their first round of samples, the colours were completely different to what Kate had designed (bright blue is not the same as navy!). “In those moments I realised how valuable ‘failure’ can be when you use these experiences to continually learn and adapt. On the flip side, at only a year in, we have been so humbled by the positive feedback and beautiful photos being sent in by our incredible customers from around Australia and the world.”

3 // Creative processes

Kate is uber passionate about being creative, not just in the design process, but in building the business, coming up with collab ideas, trying different things, and creating valuable and relevant content for their audience (check out their blog on outdoor adventure).

wild island mama disrupt

4 // Finding balance

Being a mama and a businesswoman is a juggle and Kate admits she’s learnt to be much more intentional with her time. “My daughter Madison comes with me to drop off stock to our local stockists or take orders to the post office, and I snap a few photos of her in the clothes when we’re out exploring (now that she fits!) Otherwise I try to really be with her when I am, and I’ve learned to fit a lot into naps and night times!  Now that I’ve finished up in my other job, it’s really great to have more time during the week to focus on pursuing the vision I have for the business and to keep it growing!

5 // Twinning!

Kate never intended to branch into adult clothes, but with so many people asking them for the Windswept Pullover in adult sizes, she listened… and they sold out insanely quickly! “Now, I’m working on some more matching adult pieces for mamas or papas to #twin with their kids!”

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