Meet Uniform Handmade Goods
I had the joy of first meeting Kati at Refresh Market earlier this year. I was taken away by the simplicity of her line and display. In a room full of vendors who fit all they can into their booth (myself included) her single clothing rack with just three styles of impeccably made, beautiful garments reminded me when something is well made, we don't need as much as we think we do. Her linen t-shirts are exactly what I dreamed of but could never quite find and her linen tank is flattering and has so many well thought out details. Kati truly puts so much thought and effort into all that she does, whether with her clothing line or how she lives her life, and I'm honoured to get to share her story with you today!
PS - I'm also ecstatic to announce that I'll be carrying a selection of her linen tees! You can find them here.
Tell us a bit about what you do!
I have a handmade women’s clothing line and lifestyle brand called Uniform. I design minimal, natural fibre, capsule wardrobe appropriate pieces to beautify and simplify.
How did you get started?
This past summer I was struggling to update my own wardrobe. I’ve had two babies, and finally felt ready to own my own style and identity again. Not finding what I was looking for (jeans and tshirts, my “mom uniform”), was very discouraging. I also refused to support fast fashion and companies with terrible ethics. And I was done with polyester! So I decided to find a seamstress to sew my dream tshirts out of my dream fabric, linen. And Uniform was born.
You name – Uniform Handmade – sends a very clear message. Why did you choose “Uniform”?
I literally wear my own pieces on repeat. By far the easiest decision I make all day is what to wear in the morning. I love how having a capsule wardrobe gives me one less thing to think about in my busy life. Once most people take a step back and look at their existing wardrobes, they realize they already more or less have a capsule, or hand full of favorities. Their Uniform.
Your line consists of three pieces – the tank, t-shirt and cardigan. How did you decide on those three? What inspired you to keep it so minimal? Do you have plans to add more in the future?
The tshirt was the inaugural piece. I pulled all of my most worn tees from my closet and created a frankenstein. The loose, slouchy fit. The dropped shoulder. The elbow length sleeve. The deep, nursing friendly v-neck. The longer back hem. The side slits so it doesn’t strain across my ample hips.
From there I knew I wanted a versatile structured piece in my line. Casual yet easily elevated. The tank silhouette is basic, square and boxy, but the triangle cut out between the shoulder blades and the collarbone skimming neckline highlight some of the most feminine places on the body. It looks amazing on every body.
The cardi basically embodies everything my brand is about. Hyper-local, entirely from the Fraser Valley from fibre to finished garment. Sensual, cosy, luxuriously soft, intended to be worn and loved for a long time. Finding the ethical, family run farm I get the Alpaca wool from was like the clouds parting and angels singing. They know each animal by name, who needs a manicure, and whose baby is whose. As a long time vegetarian and someone very passionate about animal rights, I would never, ever even consider using or wearing an animal fibre unless I was sure the animals were unharmed in the process, and happy. I found a local textile artist and created the design, and now each cardi is lovingly crochetted, by hand, to order, with intention.
You place a lot of emphasis on the fabrics you use – natural, local or organic. Why is that?
The environment. The longevity. The aesthetics. The colors. The story. All of these things vastly improve when you use natural fibres. If I’m going to wear the hell out of something, I do not want it to be chemical laden, irritating to my skin, and shedding micro particles every time I wash it. Natural fibres get better with time, they age and hold memories, and they stand up to repair so you can love them longer.
How does minimalism impact your own life?
Its a work in progress! We have moved four times in the last five years, had two children, and just been riding the rollercoster. The absolute most common thread has been the desire to simplify. The constant purge, whether it be selling things to save up for something of better quality, getting rid of wants and only holding on to needs, it just feels so good. With children comes a lot of crap, and from the get go we were clear about only welcoming necessities into our home. As little plastic as possible. No bells and whistles. Now, we are finally settling into a home I see us staying in for a while, and nothing brings me more peace than seeing clutter free rooms and clean surfaces as I turn out the lights at night. It really and truly does wonders for your state of mind.
Your IG feed doesn’t just focus on the clothing you sell. You feature beauty brands, other clothing companies, home things… all the things! I love that! Why did you decide to do that instead of focusing on brand-specific like many other brands do?
Uniform is really an extension of all the things I love, and I want to share those things! I am a compulsive researcher, and that paired with trying to live more minimally, means nothing makes the cut unless I really, really feel it meets the criteria. I am very passionate about green beauty, eating locally, herbs and oils, and shopping small. I think an incredible number of people are going that direction as well, and are overwhelmed with all of the options. I got a head start as a hippie close to 10 years ago, and I’m happy to share my knowledge!
What tips have you learned about prioritizing – both tasks related to work and general life things?
Oh I wish I was better at this. Above all, my little people are my priority, so they always come first. But I constantly try to do too many things at once, and smoke comes out of my ears almost daily. I can multitask fairly well, but its my partner who knows me better than I know myself, that regularly throws a hypothetical glass of water in my face and reminds me I can’t do it all.
How has being a business owner changed you? Is running a business the way you imagined or expected? In what ways is it different?
It has given me confidence and woken up my creativity and it feels SO GOOD. I wouldn’t say it's what I imagined, because I had never really thought I would be doing it! I always thought I would be a stay at home mom, which I still am, but now I do both, and I feel like an olympic athlete. One of the hardest parts is how expensive it is. I’m only 6 months old, it can take years for a business to become profitable, so at this point I’m deep in the trenches, and it’s hard.
Biggest reward being an entrepreneur? Biggest struggle?
The feeling of pride. I am deeply proud of what Uniform has become in such a short time. And it is so honestly me, nothing is forced or fake, so it’s just the biggest compliment in the world that people like what I’m doing! The struggle is just finding time to do it all, and sleep, and eat...
What advice do you have for those starting their own endeavours?
Make it worth while, compelling, useful. The world doesn’t need another inspirational saying in vinyl on reclaimed barn board. And be sure you are truly passionate and willing to be the face of your brand. People are becoming much more informed consumers, and they want to meet the maker and understand the process.
What is your ultimate goal, both personally and professionally?
I want exciting routine! Is there such a thing??? I want to feel like my business is running like a well oiled machine, humming along, keeping the momentum, innovating, whilst having a grip on my daily life and scheduled downtime. Eventually, I dream of a women run studio space where I can create art, design custom textiles, and have my seamstressing all sewing Uniform pieces together under the same roof!
What inspires you?
The feeling I have now that I took this leap of faith. I know it will be successful, the response has been overwhelmingly positive, and I know in my heart that I am doing a good thing. My children are watching, always, and are very involved in the process. It’s incredible seeing them make the connection between a bolt of linen, my patterns, and the women that sew the pieces. A real person actually sews everything you wear! Most young people have no idea who makes their Old Navy tshirt. And it’s not unlike the saying “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians”. When we know better, we do better.
You mention dealing with anxiety a bit. How do you manage it? What tips or tricks have you learned to run a business without letting it overwhelm it all?
I struggle with this. It can be an all encompassing feeling. I am learning to give myself more grace, as I would someone else. My expectations of myself are far too high, and I need to give myself a break sometimes. I try to remember to breathe deep, drink tea, look into my babies eyes, and tickle them.
You have a daughter, whom you’ve mentioned regularly ask for advice. What have you learned from her? What do you hope she learns from you?
She is just such a shining light. Everything that is good in the world is wrapped up in my little girl. She is brilliant. Straightforward, no nonsense, logical. She has this uncanny ability to just simplify things so the answer becomes clear. And her heart and empathy are so beautiful, she inspires me to be kinder, gentler, and braver. I hope from watching me she takes chances, trusts her instincts, moves thoughtfully and calmly, and doesn’t let anything stop her.
How do you define success?
With happiness, stability, and love.
How do you find balance? What does balance look like to you?
I have to regularly check in with myself and my family. If everyone is happy and healthy, life is balanced, for the time being. But it is a pendulum, and often sways one way and the other. You have to roll with the punches.
What do you feel is the most important thing in life?
Pure, true love. No matter where you are, or what you have, all you need is love.
How are you trying to make a difference in our world?
Every dollar you spend casts a vote. By slowly but surely educating and changing the way people think and consume, working environments will be improved, wages will increase, organics will become the norm and conventionally grown a thing of the past. I hope our next generation will be content with less, let go of comparisons, and get back to basics. More time in the trees would do a world of good.
FYI - the clothing featured in these photos was gifted. All opinions are my own, & I'm grateful to you for helping support us & the brands we love!