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Self-Start Mums Interview with Founder of Kat & Fox, Katharine Rattray

Self-Start Mums showcases mothers who have created their own self-employed business. I’m very happy to share my interview with Katharine Rattray, Founder of Kat & Fox.

You can join the Self-Start Mums community, a supportive network for self-employed mums, here.
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This series includes sponsored content.

Katharine Rattray Interview for Self-Start Mums

1. Tell me about yourself?

I am a 40 something pommy mother of three crazies living my coastal dream in Torquay, Victoria. I am married to a surfer dude, tradie called Matt and have a very nervous dog called Sadie.

I am from London in the UK and originally trained as an interior designer. I came out here as a backpacker picking up Matt and a baby along the way…that’s was 19 years ago…

Katharine Rattray of Kat & Fox and family - Love from Mim

2. Tell us about your self-employed business?

I started Kat & Fox back in 2016. The Kat & Fox style is whimsical, and the concept for the brand is to make the world of magical illustrations available to all. For personalised gifts/mementos, business branding, and wonderfully written children’s stories. All this presented to customers under the distinct categories of; ‘Characters by Kat’, ‘Name Arts by Kat’ and ‘Kat for Authors’. I am presently working on building up ‘Kat’s Academy’ created for those wanting to learn to draw, through to assistance in stepping into professional illustration.

Kat & Fox pride themselves on their ability to work with, and, for others by adding a smile to their lives through the use of colour and line.

3. How did you transition to working for yourself?

Back in 2014 I was employed as a interior design coordinator through TAFE. I was finding my role draining and unsatisfactory. I was training others to bask in their creative glory…I wanted that too.

Since my father had passed away back in 2010 I had had not allowed myself to stop drawing…while he was all he wanted to see was his little girl draw again. This helped me with grief and carve out a new future, a career where I could draw. The moment that planted the initial seed…the seed of wanting to go from interior design teacher to professional children’s book illustrator, was meeting international illustrator Sue DeGennaro in 2014. This meeting ignited the fire with in me, and gave me the dream. First step was to take long service leave…next going back part time and then finally I left.

Katharine Rattray Book Illustrator - Love from Mim

4. What was your previous career?

Interior designer/teacher.

5. Describe a typical day in your working life?

I wake, shower, make my breakfast, sit and reflect…then man-handle the kids off to school. From 9 – 10am every day is a walk with the dog on the beach…this is a must (sometimes a cuppa with a friend).

Back in the studio, I check my calendar and daily list and work on a drawing…something in the business. Always taking a break for 30 mins for lunch. Then I have until 3pm to squeeze in some more time. School pick up, fix arvo tea for the kids, back in the office until 5.30pm…dinner time and relax with surfer dude.

Some days I work ON the business as well as in!!!

6. How many hours do you work per week on your business?

At the start, I would work 8-10 hours a day, sometimes weekends too. Now I work about 25 hours a week…depending on deadlines and workload.

7. Do you supplement your income in any other ways?

I run drawing workshops at the local community house and use this as my income. These short course and the content created all work into Kat’s academy.

Katharine Rattray of Kat & Fox - Love from Mim

8. How do you manage your family and working for yourself?

I can’t work the hours I’d like to; I work around the needs of the family and my health. I have to be careful as I have Bipolar type 2 …so flare-ups can happen. I stay on top of this with a good diet and exercise.

My hubby was useless at the beginning and did not support me at all…now, after our marriage falling apart and now back together with a massive sea change, he is coming to the party.

I have to be structured and have strong systems in place so that I can get work done and grow Kat & Fox.

9. What challenges did you face in setting up your business?

To be honest, I had no idea or experience in running a business…managing funds…all of that. I just wanted to be the best and famous…It took me to fall to the floor with exhaustion to change this. I studied got the help I needed and today I am smashing it…still I have huge money block which I need to get rid of.

10. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?

OMG..I can wear my Pj’s to work…eat ice-cream at my desk and take breaks whenever I want…plus feel satisfied that this is my baby!

11. What’s your best advice to another mum who is considering setting up her own business?

  • Pour the foundations, build the framework, and then add the bricks and mortar… Don’t run at your final business idea, like a deranged toddler high on ‘e’ numbers.
  • Understand all the facets of your business before you outsource them, or you can lose control.
  • Find your tribe. Those who fit with your business model, your ideals, and collaborate where you can.
  • Make sure you have the full support of your family, and that you keep communicating to them.

12. What’s next for you and your business?

Building up ‘Kat’s Academy’, growing my profile as a children’s book illustrator…getting fitter, buying a house in Torquay and having a fabulous family holiday.

You can visit Kat & Fox here, and follow here on Facebook and Instagram.

 Are you a self-starter mum? Read more interviews with self-employed mums here.

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I acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land I work and live on, the Awabakal peoples, and pay my respects to Elders past and present.
I thank them wholeheartedly and express my love and gratitude for the privilege to live and work in such a beautiful part of the world and for the opportunity for my family to be part of this vibrant and supportive community.