Putting ‘big ideas’ to work

THREE times a week after bootcamp, coffee at the National Library became the routine for local mums Cate Huntington, Lesley Anderson, Serina Cardone and Le-Anne Jakeman.

But the chatting always turned to the same thing.

“We wanted to go in a new direction with our lives, to start a business,” says Cate.

“We’re all creative and into sewing, so we kept on talking, over even more coffees, until we settled on creating homewares featuring our own original designs of Canberra icons.

“Then it was like, well let’s stop talking about it and go and do it!”

And do it they did, with designs and ideas happening at an amazing rate, says Cate.

“We showed each other our designs and it was incredible how we could all have such different ideas from the same brief,” she says.

“Which is how we ended up with so many different looks – road signs, cityscapes, hot-air balloons, national institutions and beautiful pattern repeats incorporating Telstra Tower and Parliament House.

“We love Canberra, we’ve all lived here for years and raised our families here.

“We feel qualified to immortalise the icons around town!”

The business became Gatbi, or Girls and Their Big Ideas. The girls do everything themselves, from creating the designs to choosing the fabric, screenprinting in Serina’s basement, painstakingly ironing the cushion covers, making the swing tags, marketing and manning their stall at the Old Bus Depot Markets. They also print on to calico bags and tea towels.

“Our teenagers help us with the IT side of things and have shown us how to use the EFTPOS machine, but otherwise it’s all us,” says Cate.
“We are all trying to learn all the skills involved, so it’s taken us out of our comfort zones, which is great,” says Lesley. “It’s all about experimentation, and it’s lots of fun.”

“It’s also about taking back something for ourselves, too; getting our lives back, in a sense,” says Serina.

“It all happened quite quickly, having gone from talking about it in May, to starting sewing in July, and being ready for our first market in September, where we had so much positive feedback,” said Cate.

The girls say they don’t see themselves as cushion makers in the long term.

“We’re designers more than anything, but we decided on cushions as a good place to get us started,” says Cate.

“We’re not sure where we’ll end up going with the business, but we’re certainly not short of ideas!”

To stay up to date with the girls, like them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gatbi. Items are also sold at www.madeit.com.au/gatbi

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