a little taste of the handmade goodness you will find on the site...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meet the Maker - imba

Please tell us who you are & what you do?

imba is Catherine McAra. I’m a Mum (I have an 18-month old daughter called Molly), I live in Wellington, and I design and make beautiful babywear: whimsical, contemporary & delightful designs for new babies through to age four. New Zealand designed. New Zealand made.

How did you get started? Have you worked in other creative areas before the kind of work you’re doing now?
imba began when my daughter was a few months old. Bibs were an essential item for her – but I couldn’t seem to find any that looked great and functioned well. So I set about designing and creating a line of baby bibs that fit well, absorbed spills, looked fabulous, and kept clothes dry. I then began designing and making clothing, and I now have a small range of seasonal items in natural fibres and wearable styles.

Is there a story behind the name of your shop?
Yes! I asked my 5-month old daughter for a suggestion: "imba!" she said. The name stuck.

How long have you been creating for?

Almost one year. I think there must be a birthday party coming up soon....

Is your business a hobby, a profession or a happy marriage of both?
It’s a hobbfession. Or a profobby. Very much a happy marriage of hobby and profession. I love what I do – the creative process is just the way I tick. I’d go mad if I couldn’t design and make stuff.

Describe your work setting.
My workspace is my home. It’s a flexible arrangement – the work moves around with me according to how much space I need. I have a little loft and a big cupboard for storing fabrics, fold-out trestle tables for cutting and designing, and a small worktable for the sewing machines. My latest acquisition is a fabulous 1940’s roller press – it can iron a bolt of fabric fast!

Do you work alone? With a team? Do you engage your family or friends in the work? How do you ensure you get your work done yet still have a life?
Until recently I’ve worked entirely on my own. Designing, cutting, sewing, finishing, marketing, etc. Recently I’ve contracted the help of a couple of machinists in order to get some big wholesale orders completed in a short timeframe – however everything in my Little Kiwis Nest store (and at my market stalls) is entirely hand-made by me.

My daughter likes to wear the finished items, but I don’t work while she’s awake. I sew and design during her afternoon nap time. I’d love to have more time to design and sew – there are so many ideas in my workbook and fabrics in my cupboard – just not enough nap-times to see it all happen!

What is your process?
My work process is straightforward one: I think of the style I want to create then find the fabrics (or sometimes the other way around). Many of my fabrics I import from overseas. Then I wash, tumble dry and iron the fabrics. Preshrinking means that the finished garment won’t shrink or warp in the wash, and that’s the result I want. Then I refer to my sizing charts and pattern blocks and begin drafting my pattern. I sew a toile/trial to make sure it’s working the way I want it to, and then I’ll cut the garments in a range of sizes from one piece of fabric. Sewing happens next – I lay out and work all the same seams at the same time. Then I quality check, take photographs and write my online listings.

Why do you do what you do? What inspires you? When do you get most excited?
It’s a compulsion! I'm a visual magpie - colour, shape, line, textures, found objects, combinations and contrasts - my eyes like picking them out and piecing them together. Working from home also allows me to be full-time Mum to my daughter. I get most excited watching her grow up – stringing funny words together, walking, learning – it’s an incredible process to watch.

Can you remember your first sale? What was it?
Yes – it was a baby bib I sold to my Mum!

Have you ever been in business before?
Nope – it’s all new, although I’ve been doing the accounts for my husband’s photography business for several years, so I’m familiar with that side of things.

At what point do you consider yourself successful?
When the balance is right – time for family, time for work, time for housekeeping, fun, friends...

 Where do you do your best thinking?
In the bath.

What stops you from giving up when you are frustrated?
I know it’s part of a process.

If you had time to learn a new skill what would it be?
Video editing.

When you are not involved in your craft/business- what can you usually be found doing
Spending time with my daughter and family. Visiting my friends and my sister. Walking. Doing housework!

Do you have a favourite handmade purchase?
For me: A paua ring (it has a naturally formed hole in the centre) that my husband gave me. For Molly: a crocheted cloche hat made by Lisa Van Klaveren of Holland Designs.

Do you buy on impulse or do you go out looking for something you need?
Very much both.


1. What is the last thing that made you belly laugh?  Last night my daughter said I was cooking bibles for her dinner! She meant spirals (pasta).
2. What book is on your bedside table? A notebook full of ideas, reminders, and notes to self!
3. What was the last cd/ipod track etc that you listened to? London Bridge is Falling Down... (kid music!)
4. Where do you hide your secret stash of chocolate? Shhhh! It’s secret! 
5. What was your cheapest holiday? Many years ago on the Catlin Coast in Southland (in a tiny puptent).

view imba's online store
cowboy bib

1 comment:

  1. I very much like this new feature you have on your blog highlighting your designers/crafters. :)


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