Kaidee Peel is a Creative Director and Co-Founder of Kultcha Collective, born and raised in Coffs Harbour. Kaidee thrives on finding new embellishments, fabrics and manufacturing techniques from around the world. FOCUS sat down with Kaidee and her family and discussed finding the inspiration to follow your dreams …
We would love to know how it all started. A little birdy told us it started with an old sewing machine. Tell us your story!
From a very young age I have always taken an interest in creating all sorts of crafts from whatever I could find around the house, garden or beach. I would say my first influence on sewing was from my grandmother, Mitzi Dillon; I loved staying over at Nan and Pop’s when I was little. Pop (Scott Dillon, world famous longboarder in his day) would take me out for an early 5am surf at Sapphire Beach, then we would be home by 7:30am to cook brekkie and get crafty with with Mitzi. I just remember being drawn to her collection of fabrics, beads, trims in her sewing room; it was an endless supply of goodness. We sewed up bags, cushions and my dance costumes. Mitzi passed on her whole collection to me when she passed; I was about 14 years old.
You are a local to Coffs Harbour, but your passions have taken both you and your family all over the world. What makes Coffs Harbour home to you?
I was born and bred in Coffs Harbour; it’s always home to me. However, we do love adventure – even now, when we are a family of four. When I moved to Byron Bay and met my now husband, Bulan, we began to adventure, dream and travel around the world. There we would find inspiration, adorned and surrounded by the likes of India, Thailand, Mexico, California and many more. Our daughter, Inca Mitzi, had travelled to Mexico, California and Bali before she was two years old, and we are off on another adventure in the coming months to visit our extended family in Thailand with Inca Mitzi and Ari Uki.
We have fallen in love with your designs! Which part of the world has given you the most inspiration?
I can really appreciate the beauty in traditional techniques used all over the world, including Australia. It speaks truth, authenticity and pride of where the nationality or tribe may come from. I am drawn to patterns, colours, embellishments from all corners of the world.
After travelling through these countries, you really gain respect for their art and traditions. It also really reflects a lot about how beautiful our country is and its traditional custodians; these traditions are sadly being lost, and I ache to learn and be inspired by more within Australia.
And you have a beautiful family! How do you balance your creative work with your family life?
That’s a good question! Yes, that can be challenging at times. We all love to be creative and get amongst it; Inca Mitzi has her own little desk with bead and paints, so she has her own little projects she works on. Ari loves to explore my studio; he also has his Jolly Jumper in there, so he can bounce around and enjoy all the chaos and fun. Bulan also has his leather and silver smithing area, where he finds time to work on projects. Having Bulan’s support is one of the most valuable things; it gives me time to set myself aside for work and focus. Being mostly online and based at a home studio, it can be hard to switch off from work at times, so we try to keep all of the projects separate from the house and in the studio.
What has been your most inspiring influence in your work?
I have been fortunate enough to grow up in a place like Coffs Harbour and spend the last six years in Byron Bay. This and travelling has been an inspiration in itself. Being surrounded by beautiful landscapes of ocean, hills, I’ve met some pretty amazing people and talent, and I’m very grateful. When I first moved to Byron Bay, I worked closely with Colin Heaney, an amazing graphic artist who printed his art onto silk caftans and started up his label, “Liberated Heart”. Colin and his small team were amazing, and I was introduced to other designers, artists, boutique owners.
What’s the best piece of advice you could give?
Always continue to learn in whatever it is you do, keep going, follow your passions and never give up. We all need to make a living but unless you are doing something that truly feeds your soul, then you are just fulfilling someone else’s dream. Lead a positive, happy life, believe in yourself, and the rest will follow and fall into place.