It was many years ago. 2011 in fact. Kate and Kate had been focussed on their families and part time work and were completely overwhelmed by the amount of toys spread through their homes.
As friends, Kate and Kate met at beachside cafe with toddlers in tow. They each had an older child in primary school. AND both were pregnant.
So when one Kate said to the other Kate, "I have an idea and I really need you to make me something like I had as a child," the other Kate wondered when she would possibly have the time to sew or craft but she was very eager to know more.
But Kate explained about the toy bag she and her brothers had used in the family farm house in country South Australia. She described to the other Kate the denim fabric that was pulled up with coloured string through many eyelets around the edge. Here's a picture of it.. They were unable to find anything like it to buy in shops or online. So with chaos in their homes and a love for kids and creative play, Kate and Kate started their business journey.
Initially fabric and materials were sourced from local shops. Various prototypes were stitched on their kitchen tables, improving the design with each attempt. A simpler eyelet arrangement with the rope concealed was an important improvement. The edge strip that helps prevent toys from falling off the mat is another advancement. And the pocket with zip was a firm favourite with the kids as soon as it was trialled. The name Play Pouch stuck from the very beginning. Here is one of the very first Play Pouch models...
As the number of prototypes increased, so did the ideas for what to store inside. The homes of the Kates started to feel less overrun with toys and Lego mess and their kids engaged more willingly in tidy up.
Before long Kate and Kate looked to find a way to have the Play Pouch made more efficiently and economically so they could share the product with people beyond their own community. Their babies had been born. Two gorgeous boys - Edison and Jude - but Jude was born early and with special needs. Life was busier than ever and brought new emotional challenges. But the drive for success for Play Pouch was unrelenting and Kate and Kate remained excited about its potential.
After countless hours of research and communication the first bulk order for Play Pouches, in five bold colours with grey edge strips, was placed.
The boxes soon arrived at Willunga, South Australia. The 1000 units in 50 boxes had to be removed from the delivery truck with a tractor (no forklift!) and carried down 20 steps into a cellar for safe storage (no warehouse!).
The excitement of the delivery soon turned to horror when it was discovered that the Play Pouches had not been made to the agreed standards. For the next two years Kate and Kate carefully reworked EVERY SINGLE Play Pouch! They sold them at local markets so they could be sure that each Play Pouch was of a good standard so that there would be no damage to the emerging brand.
Kate and Kate knew they were on to something when they sold SIX Play Pouches at a local craft fair - haha! And both were excited at the prospect of becoming millionaires within twelve months! So positive but so naive. Here they are at an early market...
Time passed. The kids grew. There were house moves and renovations, starting and changing of schools for the older kids and hours spent fine tuning the Pouch Australia business while juggling day to day life and the extra needs of Jude. Special family members and friends passed away. The resolve of Kate and Kate to make Play Pouch a success only deepened. Here are the kids at one of the markets early in the journey:
After working with various manufacturers, a wonderful partnership was struck with a fantastic team who have become true friends. Their ethical standards and commitment to quality is evident in the final products.
Pouch Australia products have travelled to numerous destinations around Australia, New Zealand and the world. Kate and Kate sometimes followed and sometimes went first to break new ground for the products they know are essential for every busy family. The image shows the incredible singer Adele being handed a Play Pouch from Kate at her concert and declaring her love for them.
Intellectual Property protections including trademarking and design registration patents haven't stopped poor copies in international markets but the quality and superior design of original Pouch Australia products continues to win out. It is most upsetting when Play Pouch branding and photos of the authentic product being used by the kids of Kate and Kate are used. Ruthless. Don't be fooled - authentic Pouch Australia products come boxed and with official rubber badge branding. The disappointment as a result of the poor copies is alleviated by award wins and acknowledgement of great product design and hard work in the industry and the media. Here are Kate and Kate with their first award and at another national award celebration:
The future is exciting. There are more designs and products in the pipeline. Pouch Australia is committed to making busy family life more enjoyable by offering products that promote more play and less mess.
The Pouch Australia journey so far has been filled with huge highs and some massive challenges. But the passion Kate and Kate have for the products they present is unwavering and for them this story is just the tip of the iceberg.
Thank you for sharing in the journey of Play Pouch. Please continue to share your reviews, photos and interactions via email, Facebook and Instagram. It is so much fun to see Play Pouch and other Pouch Australia products in your homes and out and about with you.
Kate and Kate xx