I've been featured in the Little Hotdog Watson Interview series "Dreamers and Doers" - loved this!
Hi Ester tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Ester, mumma, maker, and founder of my organic kids clothes business Dinki Human. My family and I live in the South Coast of the UK, and I work from my home studio designing prints, and clothing ranges for babies and young kids. The Dinki Human range is unisex, sustainable and ethically made in the UK. Some of the range is hand made by myself but most of it is now manufactured in the North of the UK.
What was your driving force to set up your business?
Having worked in the fashion industry for many years before becoming a mum I got to know the industry very well. I vowed I would one day build a kids brand that rejected conforming to gender stereotypes and manufactured responsibly with sustainability and fairness at its core. When I became a mum I craved flexibility and creative freedom so left my job as a Design Manager to design a life I loved. Becoming a mum also awakened the activist in me, I’ve always been passionate about the environment, but once I had a daughter I felt even more motivated and driven to fight for her future.
What’s your workspace like?
I’m currently working from my home office, I’ve completely taken over our spare bedroom, it is packed with Dinki Human stock, sewing gear, fabrics, books and alike. As you can imagine, it's quite a squeeze! I hope to be in a new studio within the next few months - fingers crossed!
Tell us about a typical day?
As I work around my daughters childcare my week is technically “part-time” any mother and business owner knows this just isn’t reality and we spend every hour of our week doing both roles! On my structured work days (3 per week) I take my daughter to pre-school, come home and get to work, I try and split my work day into tasks, for example, social media, accounting, blogging, or designing but I also need to be flexible and work around what needs prioritising. I am constantly juggling and trying to decide what needs to be at the top of the list and what has to wait! I LOVE what I do and I feel incredibly fortunate but wearing all the different business hats can be exhausting!
I take my fur baby, french bulldog out for a walk at lunchtime and it means I can clear my head, and I sometimes listen to a podcast or call a friend to get some distance from my desk. Working from home can get lonely and my dog doesn’t really answer back when I ask him questions, so it's good to connect with people in a similar position on social media.
I pick my daughter up from pre-school at 4.30pm and the next few hours are a flurry of playing, trying to get her to eat her dinner, bath time and bedtime stories. Once she's in bed either my hubby or I cook dinner and I spend the evening picking up work tasks I’m able to do in front of the TV and sat next to my very supportive other-half! I try to post on Instagram, work on my Pinterest account and sometimes I’ll have some sewing or labelling to do. It feels like it never ends, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! And besides, one day I’ll be able to hire staff to help out!
How did you launch?
I didn’t have a proper big launch really, I started my website and Instagram whilst on maternity leave and after going back to work, I worked on Dinki Human as a side-hustle. I went “full-time” Dinki Human boss lady in March 2018 and launched my first ‘proper’ collection in January 2019. Before that I was small-scale making alongside designing and sourcing a full range - it’s been a slow but very busy process!
What’s your favourite online resource (app/tool) that is indispensable for work?
There are so many! I love Instagram and Pinterest for free online marketing, I love Later for planning Insta content, I use Asana for managing my tasks, I use Adobe creative suite for designing and all google drive apps for my geeky spreadsheets and ciritcal paths - I’m a total organisation nerd!
How do you manage family and work life balance?
The juggle is real! Basically family will always come first but my work is very important to me so we make it work. I’d love to have more time to focus on my business and when my daughter starts school I’ll have more “office hours” time and maybe I’ll get more evening time to myself - that would be a treat!
What have you found most surprising since setting up your business?
I guess I’m just amazed by how much there is to do all the time! Once you have a handle on the job as designer or maker or accountant you need to learn marketing and photography and SEO! I can’t imagine ever feeling like I’m at the end of my to-do list!
On the tough days how do you self motivate?
It can be so hard! Generally I’m very motivated and driven - as my work time is short, I have to be as productive as possible. But there are some days I get stuck in a fog of comparison and get run down by social media, there is a lot of pressure to show up all the time, to be engaging with your community all the time but I never feel like I have enough hours in the day to achieve everything I set out to achieve. I think sometimes you have to let yourself feel that way, take a walk, have a bath, watch an episode of Ru Paul’s Drag Race with a biscuit and then you're energised to get back to your hustle.
What’s been your business highlight so far?
I love to celebrate all the small wins, I think it’s important, so I’m over the moon with every order, with every press or blog feature, and with every new stockist that wants to work with me. I am very proud of the Dinki Ethos and the amount of work and thought that has gone in to the development of the brand’s core values. Launching our Pre-Loved Initiative last year and working with Traid for a charitable collaboration has been hugely exciting, and personally rewarding.
What have you got planned next?
I have a lovely new stockist launching Dinki Human any day now and I have a couple more in the pipeline. I have my first podcast interview launching soon and I’m excited to be a part of some new online marketplaces. I’m also hoping to move into a studio space, so 2020 will be a great year for Dinki Human!
And finally…. What’s your top tip for anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Be brave, invest in yourself, do all the training you can. There is SO MUCH to learn and you have to continue to take on more and more skills so the more help you can have with that the better!
Thank you Ester. We are huge fans of Dinki Human and our Little Hotdog's wear Dinki tops and leggings all the time. You can shop Dinki Human here.