Inspiring Women | Kym Kitchener - Making Your Clothes
Our first pair of Wundies was made in 1998 by Kym Kitchener! This was before we had our own factory & Kym worked at DR Manufacturing who made our Wundies in the early days. After a break from the industry Kym came to work with us and is still making our Wundies, clothes and accessories years later. She has a wealth of knowledge, skills & a sense of humour that we greatly appreciate and has made everything from g-strings to truck tarpaulins in her career! We're proud to see Kym still working in an industry which has seen a lot of changes over the years.
How long have you been sewing and making and how did you start?
I've always had am interest in sewing from a young age. After I finished school at 16 years old I was given the option of working at different places such as retail but I chose to work and get the skillset for being a sewing machinist as it was something I loved to do and still love 44 years later!
It was a lot different to now. When I first walked into the factory it was huge and there were so many machines lined up, it was daunting. This was to make bras at House of Jennings for Triumph International but like a lot of manufacturing in Australia it was moved off shore after a few years. I tried my hand at retail but it wasn't for me and I kept finding myself going back to sewing.
How did you juggle mum life and work?
I had two kids so juggling work life, mum life and personal life was hard but you had to do it. My own mum was supportive and helped out a lot which was great. But we made sure we still got to do fun things for our selves too. I worked in the same area as the kids' school and where we lived which made things easier.
Some of the Merino Country team!
What is you most memorable experience of your career and what is your favourite part of it?
Making lifetime friends! I'm still friends with my first boss. Working as a machinist is a team job so you have to communicate well with each other which means you get close and make friends for life!
My favourite part is that I LOVE my job! It is so fulfilling to make something from pieces of fabric and transform it into something beautiful and useful! Working as a machinist gets classified as a "factory job" and there is a lot of stigma around that. To me these jobs are vital and especially for fashion you need to learn a bit of every process to make a garment - not just the design part.
Kym with Sue (retired from Merino Country) & Wendy at Merino Country's 25th Celebration, 2018
What is your favourite Merino Country piece that you've made and worn?
I love the new Pocket Dress! I also loved the old Shrug Cardi we used to have - similar to the Lightweight Cardi. My key piece for travelling to cold climates such as Canada is the Turtle Neck Skivvy - its very warm.
And of course the Wundies!
Kym using her skills to make your clothes
What is some Life Advice you would like to share?
I tell my grandkids all the time - be honest, learn and be a leader not a follower.