As the only child of a single mother, Kat Hogg finished her schooling at a relatively young age – but she didn’t let that deter her from her goals and dreams. She knew, one day, she’d own and run her own business. Supported and encouraged by her Mum all the way, Kat’s working life began on the catwalk where, thanks to her height, she was often asked to model swimwear. It seems destined then that Kat would go on to launch the popular swimwear brand, Hive.
Borne of her frustration at finding fashionable and functional swim and active wear that stayed put even in the surf, the Noosa Heads resident who is very active, once representing Queensland in netball and with years of experience running a surf school and surf travel company, decided to design her own.And she didn’t let not having a design background bother her. She simply started by cutting up bras, swim and surfwear to come up with great gear that would stick. Her first foray into manufacturing in China wasn’t great. While the samples were perfect, the products that turned up were less so: they had been changed. Similarly, the second manufacturer produced spot-on samples but didn’t deliver the products in time for a Sydney trade show, which meant all she could display was the fabric.
…the internet has helped establish the business and, says Kat, they wouldn’t have survived without it.
At the show, disheartened and almost ‘over it all’, a family owned Chinese manufacturer approached her: a producer of swimwear for the high-end European market. With their knowledge and experitse, the family was able to introduce Kat to Italian Lycra, and showed her ways to save costs, print her own designs and manufacture the range to her specifications. Now, Kat spends time in the manufacturer’s Hong Kong office before flying on to China to see her fabric printer and the manufacturer on location – all of which she considers essential.
And the beautiful results speak for themselves. Hive swimsuits are designed to be fully adjustable so you can have the most fun whether you’re surfing, running, wakeboarding or whatever other activity tickles your fancy. The prints are all original and exclusive to Hive, with the collection including bikinis, tankinis, one-piece swimwear, kaftans and tracksuits.
While running the business in a town that has a transient population has its challenges, the internet has helped establish the business and, says Kat, they wouldn’t have survived without it. Initially, 70 per cent of their business was online but with distributors now appointed around Australia, online sales has dropped to 50 per cent. Hive also has a strong social media presence, which has contributed to its success.
Sold mainly on the eastern seaboard with distributors in New Zealand, and a move into California and Florida not far away, Kat’s long-term objective is to become an international brand. Within five years, Kat says she will consider a private investor, take more of a back seat, or perhaps even sell the business.
Whatever happens, between now and then, Hive will continue to ensure they have good systems in place to return phone calls promptly, send products out quickly, and call customers to check products have arrived – and to make sure they’re as happy as can bee…
- Do your research to ensure there’s a place in the market for your product or service
- Educate yourself and seek professional advice
- Learn about accounting, finance, trademarking and intellectual property
- Be prepared to ask questions
- Have a good support network
- Do your business plan in the beginning
- Embrace technology and keep up-to-date
- Stay on top of your finances
Visit Hive Swimwear
First published July 2012.