Kate Creates! From Harlow to Middlesborough and beyond!

Business / Sun 16th Jun 2024 at 07:59am

HARLOW is well known for being a hot bed of creativity and we are always amazed to hear about how small ideas and passions grow into enterprises and business initiatives. We recently heard of one such initiative, Kate Creates, that has turned into a small online business and asked one of our reporters to follow this up with an interview with Kate Reader, the creative mind behind it.

YH: Where were born? 

Kate: I was born in Harlow, we moved to Retford in Nottinghamshire when I was 1 but moved back to Harlow when I was 7.  

YH: In what decade were you born? (A gentleman never asks a lady her age)

Kate: Ha! I’m 40 and proud!! So, I was born in 1984.

YH: What primary and secondary schools did you attend?

Kate: The Spinney Primary and Mark Hall. Then I went on to The Bishop’s Stortford High School for A Levels.

YH: Did you attend college or university? If so, where and what did you study? 

Kate: I did! I studied English (with a good amount of Psychology and Philosophy) at the University of St Andrews, where I met my husband, Simon. I then spent two years at City University, London, where I completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Speech and Language Therapy. My Speech Therapy qualification probably has the biggest bearing on Kate Creates…

YH: Have you always been creative? Was being creative a hobby before you decided to set up “Kate Creates”?

Kate: I have always enjoyed creative pursuits. I knit, crochet, sew and bake, and have lots of happy childhood memories of crafting with my family. Crafting is a great stress buster! 

YH: Have you ever worked in a creative role?

Kate: No. In terms of work, I’ve had many hats! My first job was in Dorrington’s in the Stow as a Saturday Girl! Then I worked for Claire’s Accessories throughout my A Levels and Gap Year. Whilst at university I worked in halls of residence and had a job as a PA for a Scope UK trainer.  Probably my most creative role was as a Supply Teaching Assistant: I remember making an amazing (if I do say so myself!) snowman display out of cotton wool with some 3 and 4 year olds! Then since 2010 I have worked as a Speech and Language Therapist.  

YH: What inspired you to start up “Kate Creates”?

 Kate: Like I say, I now work as a Speech and Language Therapist (SaLT) for a secondary special school, having worked in the NHS as a SaLT for a long time.  I am passionate about promoting positive representation of neurodiversity and communication diversity (this comes from my job, and my previous role as a PA for a Scope trainer) and at Christmas this year I was lucky enough to get a Cricut (vinyl and card design cutting machine), which meant I could start to create my own designs to do just this. I started gifting items to my colleagues and friends: hoodies and cushion covers featuring British Sign Language; cards celebrating the gift of neuro-divergent thinking or empathising with a long wait for diagnosis/support. Friends started to ask if they could buy my items for their friends. So, Kate Creates was born! 

YH: How would you describe your business?

Kate: Kate Creates is a platform for me to create and sell personalised and bespoke clothing, cards and gifts. Working with the customer, I use my Cricut software to design the perfect item to their specifications. Designs are then sent back to the customer to check, and once they give the go ahead, I create the item. My core product range includes papercut cards, along with vinyl printed hoodies/t-shirts/pyjamas/cushion covers/caps/tote bags/pencil cases/accessory pouches. I especially enjoy creating items that champion neurodiversity and communication diversity, so do have some sample ‘off the peg’ items with affirming slogans. I also have the option to personalise items using the British Sign Language fingerspelling alphabet, and the International Phonetic Alphabet (the transcription tool used by Speech Therapists, to capture how we form sounds in speech – very geeky!).  But the focus of Kate Creates is that I can help the customer to create any design – the sky’s the limit! 

YH: Are you targeting a specific type of customer? 

Kate: I love all my customers but do have a special place in my heart for those who ask for designs that help celebrate our differences and make the world a more inclusive place! 

YH: How busy have you been since the business started in February? 

Kate: It’s been pretty busy! I’ve had the pleasure of designing cushion covers, bags, pencil cases, cards and t-shirts! My first customer was a former work colleague Trish, who ordered a sign language toddler t-shirt for her grandson. The order that has made me laugh the hardest was for a customer who was planning her father-in-law’s 80th birthday party. She had designed a “House of Games” themed party, so tasked me to make an array of prizes featuring a silhouette of her father-in-law’s face!

YH: What are your hopes for the business? Where do you see “Kate Creates” in 5 or 10 years time?

Kate: My dream is to see my creations out and about; worn by people I don’t know! 

YH: Where do you currently live? 

Kate: I now live in glorious Middlesbrough! This area consistently gets a bad press (much like Harlow!) but is absolutely brilliant (much like Harlow!) – very close to the North York Moors and stunning Cleveland coast. My two sons are Boro boys born and bred, and have real Teesside accents, which always makes me and my husband laugh as he’s a Geordie and I’m an Essex gal!  

YH:  How can people contact you? 

Kate: My Facebook page is Kate Creates: Personalised Clothing and Gifts, my Instagram is Kate.Creates.Personlised, and my email address for question or enquiries is [email protected]

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2 Comments for Kate Creates! From Harlow to Middlesborough and beyond!:

Steve Dean
2024-06-16 08:20:37

I have happy memories of studying at City University too but probably well before Kate in 1971 to 1977! Steve.

Fiona Roy
2024-06-16 14:54:22

What a wonderful, creative idea!

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