What started out as an idea to make something for herself when her daughter was only 2 months old, led Bryony Matthews to follow her passion for creativity and to start her own business, The Hoodmaker, creating unique, hand-crafted hoods for both adults and children.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
When my daughter was very small, probably 2 months old, I decided to sew myself my first hood with no intention other than to make something for myself. After finishing it I realised that this was something I could do from home being a new mum, and something that gave me joy. I then had a huge creative burst mentally, something that I hadn’t had for some time as I was tired and busy being a brand-new mother. For the next two weeks, my brain couldn’t stop thinking about hoods that I could create! Different patterns, styles and fabrics ran through my head and I got sewing. Initially, they were just for adults, but then I came up with the Babyhood. I found that my baby’s neck would be open to the cold Christchurch winter air and hats could be pulled off, so I designed a wee hood that covers head and neck and is very hard for a baby to pull off. After a period of trial and error, I finally established my final patterns and have also designed the Toddlerhood, which my toddler now wears all the time!
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
To begin with, it was word of mouth and people seeing me wear my own product that worked best. People would comment on my hood all the time and then would end up ordering from me. I was fortunate to get them into a couple of lovely shops in Christchurch that sell handmade goods by local people. I then took them to different markets around the city where I had nothing but positive responses.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
I would say the recent launching of my website. It’s been a long time coming and I’m lucky to have many people that have helped me out with it, especially my stepfather’s company MMW Design that created it for me. I’m very excited for what the future brings with my new website and I feel it has given me a lot more freedom and a greater platform to put myself forward.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
It’s been interesting, the changes in sewing and creating with my daughter who was 2 months old and is now 20 months old. I definitely use nap times and evenings after she’s asleep to do most of my work. But she’s also helped me by being one of my beautiful models, as has my partner, Alex Davies, who also runs a small restaurant of his own called Gatherings, doing what he loves. It’s been very important to me to have a decent workspace set up that is just for me. I definitely struggled a bit when I was doing markets and needed a lot of stock to sell, trying to squeeze that into every moment I could with a baby that is interested in everything and wants to be involved, but our families have been super helpful.