Being from the Mornington Peninsula, Holly may cut being a “local legend” a little fine. However the fact it was only a half hour drive to meet her means she is local enough in our books, (we also frequently road trip to the Peninsula as it is our closest taste of the ocean!)
Holly is the one woman show behind a cute little hoody business called “Hooki Hoods.” Before you ask “What is so special about a hoody company?”, this is no ordinary hoody brand! Hooki Hoods are COMPLETELY CUSTOM MADE and each hoodie is hand-sewn by Holly herself, straight outa’ her bedroom!
Hooki Hoods is based in Victoria, Australia and Holly hauls her sewing machine back and forth between Dromana and the snowy mountains of Falls Creek! How is a small business like Hooki Hoods based between two areas you ask? Well! Holly is a busy lady and juggles working as an adventure guide and running Hooki Hoods while living between her snowy and seaside homes. The things we do when starting out hey!!
We were lucky enough to meet up with Holly and chat over some killer green juices (shout out to Store 15 in Mornington!) and hear about where it all began! Keep reading to learn more about Hooki Hoods and Holly’s laid back approach to creating a home business!
How did Hooki Hoods begin? Where did you come up with the awesome idea for customisable hoodies?
It started when I made a hoodie for a friend for a Christmas present and he wore it in Canada, a lot of people liked it over there and were asking him about it! So that gave me motivation and made me think wow, maybe I could actually start making a couple and see how it goes! This lovely lady Leanne helped me out to make the design and backing pattern, so she was an incredible help and to be honest I wouldn’t have been able to do it without her! So that’s where it sorta began, and when i started making them people began asking for certain things, so naturally I started customising them!
How long does it usually take to make each hoodie?
I’m gonna go with four hours, usually, sometimes less depending if I really try to pump it out. I haven’t really done one from start to finish and measured the time. I usually have a few on the go at a time and do each section on all of the hoodies at the same time. I do it in patches too, I often don’t do it all in the one sitting as I’m quite an active person and don’t like sitting down for massive chunks of time!
Have you always been interested in sewing?
No! It’s so sporadic, at school I sucked at maths and science, so I just stuck to the creative, artsy, outdoor or phys ed side of things. I did do a bit of sewing at school but it wasn’t much. Because I make the same thing over and over again it’s become easy. If someone said “Can you make me this dress” I’d be a bit like errrgh.
What’s the idea behind the name “Hooki Hoods”?
Hooki hoods had a good ring to it… my names Holly… and it just flowed! So I was like yep, lets go with that! And the logo… I was just sitting there one day thinking man I love jam donuts, and thought I’m going to get someone to design me a jam donut vomiting up the jam! *laughs*
So yeah, I have this mate that I used to work with, Cal and he’s an amazing graphic designer, he does his own screen printing, and is also currently doing a tattoo apprenticeship, so an amazing drawer as you can imagine! I got him to design it for me and he just happened to throw a little crown on one of them and I was like what’s with the crown? He said he just threw it on there and I loved it! It worked with the double “o” of Hooki Hoods as well. I love the design actually…he did such a good job!
What made you choose hoodies?
I made one, and then I just kept making them, it worked and people wanted them. The response I got was amazing, it was almost a bit more response than I wanted, it’s flattering, and it’s great but sometimes it’s a bit more hard work than I expected. When I have patches of no work though it’s fantastic.
Do you think Hooki Hoods will expand to a bigger business?
Probably for now I’d like to keep it on the side, I’ve just got too many interests, and too many little things I wanna do. If the point comes that I want to expand it, I would, but I dont really want to have them bulk made overseas. I like making them myself and for them to be personalised, if I was to have them made in bulk, they have to make atleast 10 of the same one, and that just goes against my grain completely, I’d also want to do it ethically. It already troubles me that some of my materials are made overseas, but at least I’m making the product.
What do you do with the rest of your time when your no making hoodies?
I’m an outdoor instructor! So I work for companies that work with schools and we take kids out hiking, mountain bike riding and stuff like that. I love doing it but it’s hard because the work is quite seasonal, unless you get a fulltime positon where you work in the office as well, I’m not ready to settle into an office job just yet though.
What’s been the biggest hurdle in starting your own business?
Probably just the time factor. Having to sit there and sew, and the time spent doing that, there’s times where it’s a rainy day and I sit inside and sew and I love it, but sitting still and sewing is probably the biggest hurdle, and the demand of when I have orders and I want to go and do other stuff. Juggling life with the hoodies is hard but it’s not too bad.
So how does the process with the customisable orders work?
I encourage people to message me on Facebook, that way I can monitor what I have coming in. I first send them photos of the material that I have so they can choose and then ask them if they want a hood, a pocket, my logo etc. If the patterned material can go on the sleeves I will do that, I put an underlay of polar fleece to make it cosier, then I discuss with them what colour fleece they want, I used to just used grey and black but now I have maroon, navy and a few other colours which is really cool! I also get their height, I never used to get their height, but I made a few orders for some girls and the hoodies were way over their knees!! But luckily they were cool with it just were like “Oh no its fine its nice and comfy!” *laughs* So yeah lots and lots of trial and error and knowing peoples size is hard. I know a lot of my customers which makes it easier, but it can be really hard! Just recently, a boy I used to go to TAFE with got one, and the sleeves were way too tight! So I had to take the sleeves off and do them again, and THEN I ended up sewing one of the sleeves inside out and I was like awww man! But yeah times like that, it just comes down to trial and error but I have learnt with every mistake!
Have you had anyone from overseas order a hoody?
Yeah I have! I’ve also had people from Australia ordering them for their friends overseas! I had this guy from Ireland message me asking to get them in stores over there! So yeah It’s really cool!
We hope you enjoyed hearing about Holly’s journey with Hooki Hoods so far! Its so nice to hear about the little businesses out there, and the behind the scenes of it all!
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