One day in 2004 Katrina lost her purse amongst the delightful fresh food of the Adelaide Central Markets. She searched high and low for a new purse that was pretty, functional, and utterly individual (rather than mass produced). Ultimately, she made one herself, hand sewn, from her nanna Connie's vintage fabric and some clear PVC, and voila! Katrina’s first envelope style button clutch was created!
Katrina’s girlfriends all wanted one, then an interstate retailer, and Kitty Came Home became a brand. The brand name reflects the early commitment to vintage – fabric and buttons – an appreciation of things made thoughtfully and with purpose. Katrina, then also known as Kitty, went out and 'came home' with a constant stream of op-shop vintage finds to re-purpose into handmade purses.
The fabric for early purses was cut on a kitchen table in a very small housing unit in the Adelaide CBD, and sewn on a vintage Pfaff industrial sewing machine. The button clutches were joined by their big sister, the super clutch; then journals, diaries and wallets.
Kitty Came Home has grown and evolved organically from that initial kitchen production space. Katrina’s partner Farley joined Kitty Came Home fulltime in 2010, doubling the work force, and participation in national Craft & Design markets became a major point of customer contact.
Immediate contact with our customers makes the quality of our product personal – we make our products well so that we’ll meet happy return customers.
In 2013 we moved to Goolwa, beside the Murray River mouth. Yes, handmade designer-makers managing to afford a (humble) mortgage! Our home includes an original farm shed which in time will become our production studio. Our three industrial sewing machines are currently in the house, looking out over the rear ‘garden’ (an aspirational work in progress) through a large semi-circular window, with the cutting table in the centre of the room and tall shelves of fabric surrounding us.
Running a small business as designer-makers is like having three full time jobs, or children! We do it because we enjoy spending our time creatively and purposefully.
Katrina is the originating creative muse of Kitty Came Home. If left to herself for more than three minutes she will naturally start making something. Katrina spends most of her time surrounded by scissors and sewing machines and jewellery making tools and open flames, but rarely cuts or burns herself (she used to teach 'jewellery hand skills' at the Adelaide College of the Arts). With a visual arts degree, a background in retail, and a seamstress nanna - it all makes sense!
If you'd like to see some of Katrina's jewellery you can have a look here.
Farley is Katrina’s partner in life, productivity and the pursuit of purse perfection. A practical lad, Farley helps design and make the purses, manage the books, make the market stalls, muck out the stables and herds the words. His background includes an automotive trade, hospitality, classical music, leatherwork, arts writing, management, and a university degree in Anthropology and English Literature. The usual joke is 'what is it that Farley hasn't done?' Funnily enough, his nanna was also a seamstress.
Fella - sorter of buttons and tangler of thread
Fella steered Kitty Came Home through its first 14 years, before leaving us (at age 19) to join ceiling cat. He instructed us in the need to arise at 5am to feed him and start our work, while he'd go back to bed, which was excellent for product-kittity. He'd often spend the days curled up between two of our sewing machines looking out the window or sit on a computer keyboard to write infinite repeat commands.
We trust that Fella's paws now pad softly in some idyllic, sun-dappled garden of his own feline soul's imaginings.