Once upon a time, Bindi Howarth of Crumb Kids worked as a textile designer for high-end fashion brands in New York and London. A few years after returning to Melbourne, where she was freelancing as a graphic designer, a friend asked her to help turn a student’s artwork in a print, to be printed on fabric and made into a dress. This sparked a unique business idea, specialising in creating bespoke one-off products based on kids artwork!
Bindi’s small but mighty business operates out of her home in Fitzroy North. Customers submit their kids artwork online, which she then designs into a custom print before sending it off to a family-run printer nearby. When she gets the fabric back, she cuts and sews each product into tea towels, tote bags, pencil cases and cushion covers, packages and sends them out to their new homes.
We chatted with Bindi a little more about Crumb Kids, and how she manages to keep her small business as low-impact as possible.
Hey Bindi! Tell us a little about your background? What has been your creative journey so far?
I studied graphic design, but found I was drawn to working with textiles having sewn from a young age (thanks Mum!). After I graduated, I went on to work overseas, both in New York and London at high-end fashion brands as a textile designer. I continued to freelance in textile and graphic design when I returned to Melbourne in early 2016.
Starting my own business felt like a natural progression, but I was particularly conscious about creating a brand that encompassed concepts that were important to me – manufacturing locally, creating no waste with excess stock or unused fabric, using high quality fabrics and an idea that felt fresh.
When did you start Crumb Kids, and why?
In mid-2019 I was asked by a friend to create a bespoke print. She’s a teacher and wanted to create a dress using students’ artwork, as a going away present for a colleague. I’ve always loved those end-of-year class memento tea towels with everyone’s little faces on them, and those personalised plates you give your grandparents, but the concept had the potential to be modernised. My friend’s project sparked the idea to revamp made-to-order keepsakes by creating meaningful, bespoke, all-over textile designs using children’s artworks, and making them into everyday products.
The idea of creating something with children’s work really interested me – there is something so special about their creations, and they come with a certain naivety that you lose as you become older.
What has been the process of starting your own business been like for you?
I feel very fortunate coming from a graphic design background with an interest in photography. Being able to shoot the product, create the website and do the branding myself made the initial outgoing costs minimal. My customers have predominantly come from word of mouth, which I love. I have recently started employing assistance where the business needs it and get help with sewing during busy periods.
Together with freelance textile design work, Crumb Kids has been my main focus for the past few years. I enjoyed working with children’s artworks so much that it prompted me to start studying primary teaching part-time last year as a little diversion through COVID. So, I keep myself busy to say the least!
Can you breakdown the process of creating a Crumb Kids product – from submission, to design, to manufacturing?
Orders and artworks are received through the order form on Crumb’s Instagram and website. I create each artwork into its own personalised bespoke print design, ensuring I only print exactly the fabric I need. The file is sent off to a Melbourne-based family-run printer who prints onto Ethical Clothing Australia accredited fabric which is made from 100% natural fibres. I pick the fabric up, then cut, sew and package the products before sending them off!
What products can Crumb Kids turn artwork submissions into?
Bespoke tea towels, tote bags, pencil cases and cushion covers.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
Crumb Kids is not just for little artists but also big artists as well! We had couples and groups of friends over lockdown creating artworks together, helping to stay connected from afar. These were made into keepsakes to treasure after a pretty grim year.
Bindi at Crumb Kids will be transforming the artworks of 15 x runners up in TDF Kids Art Awards into custom pencil cases! You can submit entries to the TDF Kids Art Awards here (entries close this Sunday!).
Check out more of Crumb Kids offerings here and follow them on Instagram.