Karibou Kids is a clothing brand established here in New Zealand by the founder and owner Alyssa Jouk.
I meet Alyssa recently through a Go To Girl networking coffee morning and I thought we had an automatic connection through fashion and both seemed to find it hard to stop talking (ha-ha).
After arranging to meet again for a coffee the following week, again, we got the chance to talk everything creative and in particular a couple of projects that Alyssa was working on for Karibou.
One of these projects was a re-branding project and the other project is mentioned in the interview below. I was given the opportunity to work on the branding for Karibou which I enjoyed every minute of…. !! When I work on branding I usually spend a bit of time letting the project ideas develop and consider all the variations and angles and then pop… out comes the final design idea. On this occasion, this is how it worked with the Karibou project and it was a success. Visit www.karibou.co.nz to check out this amazing childrenswear brand and the new branding that has just recently been launched.
I am so inspired by this gorgeous brand that Alyssa has created! The colour palette, the carefully considered designs and product available & mostly the friendly personality of the brand. This strong and beautiful brand is on the rise to great things.
I wanted to ask Alyssa a few questions that give us an insight as to how she balances her successful career in fashion and her family life.
Five Questions asked of Alyssa Jouk, founder and owner of Karibou, on how to balance a successful career in fashion and a family life
1. What came first for you - the business or the children? and did you know straight away that it was childrenswear that you wanted to sell?
The children definitely came first. Actually, I think that Karibou has been in development for at least 5 years sitting somewhere in my head and just not realised yet. So, when you think of it that way, the business actually came first. I think that since I had my kids, everything really shifted for me when it came to business. Never in a million years would I have thought that I’d be the founder of a kids clothing business before I had children, but after my kids came it felt like the most natural thing ever. I’m definitely one of those mums that will willingly spend $100 on some cute clothes for my kids and then feel reluctant to spend $50 on a piece of clothing for myself.
Before Karibou I was actually running two little kids YouTube channels where I’d film my kids doing cute funny things. Jean, my son, and I would also do toy reviews together and it was a whole lot of fun. That was my first contact with a kids related industry and I must say that I was hooked. The connections that I was starting to build with other mums all around the world was just priceless for me. Feeling love from parents from seeing their kids happy was pure joy. This is something that Karibou now allows me to do, which is awesome. Starting a childrenswear business was never a big idea in my head. It was more of a natural progression. Today, I feel like I’m combining my 3 biggest passions: family, creativity, and fashion, and I have to say I’m loving every second of it.
2. What does your average day look like from sunrise to sunset?
Oh man, there is definitely no “average” day as every day is so different, especially when it comes to work! I like to sleep in (I’m definitely not a ‘watch the sunrise’ kind of person, hehe) and my husband Sergei is pretty awesome as he often lets me sleep in while he spends time with the kids in the morning. Other times I get up with them (usually at around 7:30-8am) and we do fun things together, followed by not-so-fun things like chasing them around the house in hope to get them to brush their teeth and change out of their PJs. This can often take a while and we love our morning family time, so the kids don’t normally get into day-care until around 9:30-10. We like to take them to day-care together as a family and then my husband and I we are off to the gym.
After the gym it’s our religious coffee time (and my coffee and bocconcini time), where we like to have a quick chat about our day and our week. At 11am I make sure to start work surrounded by all my crazy rocks and crystals, which my son and I picked up on our trip to Queenstown (and have a ritual to charge together when the full moon comes around. I have no idea if this does anything by the way, I just heard that people do this). I will often work from my Mac in the lounge with chill out music playing in the background, and not my office, as I guess I enjoy the ‘homey' environment. Calm music helps keep me calm and focused as I’m quite a high energy person.
Then, depending on the priorities of that week, I could do be doing anything from writing emails and packing orders to photographing products or doing more creative type of photography for the store and social media, to having a meeting on product development.
My husband will come home before 6, so that we can both go and pick up our kids together from day-care and see their little faces light up smiling. From 6 until 9pm is our dinner and family time. This is where the usual routine stuff happens like giving the kids a bath and of course tooth brushing and trying to get them back into their PJs.
At 9 (or sometimes earlier) I’m right back into packing orders and I really enjoy this part of my day as it really feels like that all the hard work is worth it and I just can’t wait for all our customers to receive their goodies. Depending on how much I have to pack I could be up until midnight or 1am. Then I like to slip into my cosy bed and have a nice sleep. :)
3. How do you keep your mindset in good shape and focused for both your role as a mother and as a business woman?
For me how I start my day is very important. It has been proven that what you expose your mind to in the first 30 mins of your day really affects you. So, in the morning I like to surround myself with positivity - Motivational podcasts and videos, creative inspiration, like fashion magazines, and of course my family.
In regards to being both a mother and business woman, I think that allocating the time that I spend strictly on my business and the times that is specifically for the kids has made a huge difference. I did have to make sacrifices when I understood that this business needs a lot more of my time and attention if it is going to work. In the early stages of my business I had to make a difficult decision which was whether to put my kids into day-care full-time. Worried that I would be a “bad mum” for leaving them there all day and ultimately making my kids unhappy was my ultimate concern. However, I found that when I finally made that leap to commit to my business, not only did the growth of the business take off, but my kids became more independent and started to make true friends at their day-care centre because they were spending so much time there. Plus, at the end of the day I’m really excited to just switch off and to give my full attention to the kids.
In the end, I want Karibou to be much more than just a store. I want it to also be a legacy for my children. If I ever feel in doubt about what I’m doing, I remind myself that through running and growing my business, I’m teaching my kids about hard work and determination. I’m also teaching them to follow their passion and never give up and I believe that the best way to teach your kids this is to lead by example. Honestly, I don’t feel like I need to keep motivating myself to keep going, because my inner motivation is so great and also the fulfilment that I get from running Karibou. Since I started my business my perspective on motherhood has also changed considerably. I’ve always understood that motherhood is about giving your children as much love as you possibly can, but now I also understand that it is also about forming their character and giving them key skills to take them through life, which will inevitably contribute to their happiness and sense of fulfilment. So, if my journey in business can help me be a stronger person I hope that it can do the same for my kids.
4. You are currently developing your own Karibou kids range. What are the challenges you have found so far in the development of this range versus buying your ranges from established brands?
This is not actually something that I have made public yet, but I guess I can give you a bit of a sneak peek. As someone who really enjoys being creative, developing my own range of kids clothing was always in the back of my mind. Once I dove into the process I quickly discovered that “Boy, this is not easy!”. As difficult and stressful as this process can be it is nevertheless so much fun! Creating a product from scratch and bringing your imagination to life is an amazing feeling! But, for me it’s my deeply rooted perfectionism that makes the entire process so tricky. And who doesn’t want their product to be ‘perfect’?
In the process of product development there are so many stages and each part has to be done well before you can go onto the next stage. Everything from 3-4 pattern and sample iterations to making sure that you have just the exact detailing for each garment (Something as small as receiving 20mm instead of 18mm buttons as per the specifications can really ruin your day). In the end, it is your brand that is on the line and quality cannot be sacrificed. Nevertheless, you learn and you grow and I’m happy to keep going and learning as I go. So, all I can say is... Watch this space!!
5. How do you see your venture growing..... world domination?
Ha-ha, perhaps I wouldn’t go as far as that. I definitely want and see big things for Karibou. Mainly because I have a vision that goes way beyond myself. I get deep satisfaction from bringing the joy of beautiful things to our customers. I want mums all over the world to enjoy more fun and bonding with their little ones. Whether that means taking cute selfies with their precious little darlings and posting on Instagram, or just enjoying the quality of beautifully made clothing and passing on those values to their children. Nevertheless, I hope that I can still stay as connected to my customers as I am now. I have the name of every single Karibou mum on the wall of the Karibou office, which helps me feel more connected to these awesome mums. My hope for Karibou in the future is that the names can fill up the entire office and to make sure that it all looks pretty I’m transporting the names onto flowers, so it’s going to a beautiful wall of white flowers!
I hope you enjoyed the read.
Thanks Alyssa for being so open to answering these questions for me!
I'm a true Karibou fan!!!