Do you ever fantasize of moving across the world to somewhere more exciting? Well I do. In fact, I plan our move to somewhere with perfect weather like the Maldives, I imagine the new friends, new home, new city to frolic around in THEN I remember that I’ve got three kids which means – schools, complicated visa process, expenses expenses expenses, SO I stop being silly and get right back to earth and to living in Brisbane. At least the weather is perfect here in Spring and Autumn. BUT THEN AGAIN I remember Kat, who moved with her family to Canada, and I think it might not be impossible after all.
I caught up with Kat for today’s coffee chat and she now calls Vancouver home after growing up in Australia. Of course we talked about how she made the BIG MOVE. We also talked about the challenges she met along the way and having to redefine what flourishing meant for her in a new country.
TODAY’S COFFEE CHAT
WHO: Kat Walker
OCCUPATION: Small Business Owner + Mum
A BIT MORE ABOUT ME: I grew up in Australia & I’m married to my best friend. We have two amazing boys. I founded a creative business called Reclaimed Print
Co. which I run while also working at an artist Coop and for my church.
You made the big move from Australia to Canada with your family! Can you tell me how you approached this project to make sure it succeeded and tips you would give to someone else considering a family move?
Yes we made the huge move to Canada and we are loving life here in Vancouver. A lot of work was involved especially because we had children. The tips I would give others considering to relocate are exactly the steps we took to ensure our move was successful:
- Research immigration law.
- Do some research to determine the appropriate paperwork for your visa and whether it is legally possible for you to obtain the visa you are considering.
- Establish the reason you want to move. Clarity about why you need to move will guide you in your research about the project. This will also include research on whether there is work in your field of expertise or a market for your business idea.
- Do some research on the culture, minimum wage and cost of living to get a realistic picture of what you need to be able to make a successful move e.g. how much you should save up, what kind of insurance you need, etc.
- Apply for the specific visa that meets the final outcome you desire. Don’t apply for a work permit if you need a residency visa as many times employers do not go on to sponsor people and their families and I have seen people have to return home. Going through the correct route to secure your desired visa might take longer but is worth it. If going on a work permit, perhaps delay the move of the entire family until things are certain to avoid huge expenses and disappointments.
- If you are going to do business, understand the market in the new country. Sometimes an item that is selling overseas might take a few years (if ever) to sell in another environment. Be wary of building all your hopes on such an idea before doing all your research.
What challenges did you face settling into a new country? What did starting life somewhere new look like for your family?
One of the huge challenges we encountered upon arrival was unexpected medical expenses that quickly ate into our savings as we didn’t come with medical insurance. Another adjustment for us was having to downsize from our previous spacious Australian home size to an apartment in Vancouver. At first, I didn’t feel like I was flourishing because I kept comparing our current life with the past. Eventually, we had to sit down and redefine what flourishing actually meant for us even in the midst of a downsize. We recalled the reasons we made the move which included being close to all my family, doing what we love, living where we love and we decided that for us, flourishing meant being able to afford to do all these things including send our kids to the kind of schools we wanted while living with minimal debt. Things brightened up after we changed our perspective.
You started Reclaimed Print Co last year. Would you please share how it all started and how you got to where you are now?
Reclaimed Print Co. started as an idea given to me by my print partners. From this point I developed the idea of creating sustainable wooden canvases on which we could utilise their industrial printer to print my designs and photos on. As luck would have it my brother in law was keen to join me in the process so we quickly refined the idea and began to build our brand and our company’s vision. Our first official day of business was May 30th 2014, this was also the day we attended our first market event at the Shipyards in North Vancouver. This became our Friday night home for the summer and the perfect place to gain weekly direct feedback on how to improve our product and also to find out what design lines were going to be our hottest lines. From here we were able to launch out and participate in some much bigger events and by July 2014 we were able to launch our online shop.
When all was said and done, in our first year we had sold over $50,000 worth of products! This past March we attended out first wholesale show – The Vancouver Gift EXPO. This signifies the true focus of our business. To sell our design products in home decor and gift shops all over Canada. So far we have secured 10 wholesale clients and there are many more in the works!
You run this business while working part-time and raising 2 kids. How do keep it together and manage housework + cooking?
I approach everything with the understanding that I am in the middle of a start-up and an appreciation that this is an extremely busy period which I expect to quieten down later on. That said, I am learning to be very fluid in letting all the compartments of my life flow in and out of each other. This enables me wear different hats at the same time and be a mom while running my business. It will be more difficult for me to function if I tried to keep strict boundaries with the different areas of my life at this stage.
My husband is very hands-on and makes most of the meals in our homes. We try to eat more raw food and this has proven to keep us out of the hospitals! We also make easy meals like tacos to save time.
In your experience, what does it take to create a successful business and what is the biggest thing you have learned?
I’m still learning about this process, however, I believe true originality is VERY hard to find. So when you have a truly unique idea you MUST protect it and run with it! I also believe transparency – honesty and integrity really define a company and incredible customer service and vibrancy draw crowds!
What are your indispensable tools of trade?
My Macbook computer, a router, an industrial printer and my Delonghi Espresso Machine!
Can you share 3 of your top products and share why they are special?
Raincouver by Joshua Walker
Raincouver is one of our most iconic pieces and a favourite of anyone who has experienced the liquid sunshine weather of our beautiful city.
The Hipster Collection By Kat Walker
I also like to call this collection my ‘Jamie’ collection as I designed it with one of our friends in mind. He is a bearded cyclist who makes glasses look cool!
The Bright Lion & Wolf
The Bright Lion was one of our first sample prints and is one of the only pieces we use derived from licence free material. We chose these prints as the bright colours really juxtapose the natural wood materials and our clients instantly LOVED them! From here we added the Wolf, Tiger and Elephant to the collection and all of them have been very well received and have enabled us to really play with different wood stains and print processes.
How do you get your inspiration and how do you stay inspired?
Inspiration comes from everywhere! Our main lines are essentially West Coast
;(of North America) theme and our inspiration is literally found through all of our favourite places here in Vancouver, Canada. As I said earlier – the Hipster collection was inspired by a good friend of ours who really epitomised the word “hipster” well before that term was really ever being used!
Our quote collection was a special request by one of our wholesale clients who has a gift shop in a recovery hospital. I loved the idea of designing with the purpose of imparting a piece of hope into someone’s day and I intend to keep designing with this idea in mind. I’m also very inspired by my two sons and their interests and will be doing more children’s lines in the coming months – so watch out for that!
Outside of this our aesthetic is very rustic and reflective of vintage styles. I love the fact that we are utilising both natural materials and blending them with industrial print processes as this melding of the two worlds gives our work a very modern rustic feel. I believe it is in the tension between two worlds that true art work is formed!
What does a typical weekday look like for you?
*Please note: this is my Monday/ Wednesday & Thursday for Reclaimed Print
Co. I currently work 1 day/wk at an artist Coop and 2 days/wk for my church.
Saturday’s is family day!
7:30am – Drag ourselves out of bed and prep 7yr old son for school
8am – Drop oldest son at bus stop
8:15am – Home and have 1st coffee of the day. Check and respond to emails
9 – 10am – Prep house for day. Laundry load #1 in washing machine. Clean up kitchen and breakfast area, make beds, shower, dress youngest son. !
10amish – 11:45am – Coffee #2 – Meeting with brother in law/business
partner (Glenn Stretton). Address Client orders/ weekly schedule/ prep shows/ contact wholesale clients, take orders
11:45am – Make 5yr old lunch and prep his bag for preschool
12:20pm – JOSH takes Jude to school – KAT makes juice for lunch
1pm – 3:15pm – Kat designs for custom orders/ new lines and preps order
3pm JOSH picks up Judah
3:30pm – Kat gets Kaleb & his cousins from the bus
3:45 – 5:30pm – Kat tries to work and help kids with homework and snacks and general mum stuff
5:30pm – KAT preps for dinner and starts cleaning up kitchen from daytime use.
6pm – Josh fixes dinner while Kat does laundry load #2 and hangs #1.
7pm – Eat dinner and try to relax for an hour with kids.
8pm – boys in bath and prep for bed – Kat & Josh hang laundry load #2, load dishes in dishwasher & clean up after kids playtime.
8:30pm – Boys in bed and Kat starts work round 2
8:30pm – 10pm – Kat works on design/ emails and church work.
10pm – Josh and Kat usually watch a show on Netflix (currently its House of Cards).
Midnight – Sleep.
What is on your wish list?
– a 9ft delivery van to make our shows and wholesale deliveries much easier
– a small shopfront/ studio from which to sell and design
– an assistant, nanny and nutritionist. (all in one or as 3 people lol)
Artist & Lover of God
Seeking to unveil the beautiful rhythms of love, hope and grace enshrouded in the mundane dailiness of the human condition and the spaces we inhabit