Aboriginal children’s clothing company turning eyes on Kakadu art

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Kakadu Tiny Tots is an Australian children’s fashion boutique that supplies unique handcrafted clothing and gifts inspired by the strong indigenous heritage of its owners. All of the clothing designs are handcrafted in remote indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and are sold online and stocked nationally in boutiques.

“Kakadu Tiny Tots was started as I saw a major gap in the market in terms of Aboriginal Baby and Childrenswear – there was really no-one out there doing it right. Additionally, a major factor was the opportunity to showcase aboriginal people and show our creativity, especially highlighting our region of Kakadu,” said founder Kylie-Lee Bradford.

The artists whose work feature in Kakadu Tiny Tots colurful designs include Bradford as well as her mother, who hales from the Bininj/Munggu people and is a traditional owner of the lands on which Kakadu National Park resides, plus local indigenous artist Dale Austin whose designs adorn the jumpsuits and rompers.

Crawl before you walk
Bradford said it was a hesitant start for the business as they wanted to gauge the indigenous community’s reaction to their concept and products before forging ahead with production. Initially she tested the waters using social media and a strong marketing campaign.

“This resoundingly confirmed [we were on the right track]. We initially created our hand-painted shoes and began selling these; we had tremendous interest from this and really couldn’t keep up! We then began to contact prospective retailers and stockists and found the response on the whole was very positive. Then we began to introduce our first clothing designs and have been updating and releasing new ranges and products ever since!”

Not all about product but people
As many small businesses find, customers are attracted not only to their products but to the people and vision behind them. This was certainly the case for Kakadu Tiny Tots. Although they were entering a competitive market they able to attract customers looking for a unique offering.

“We found we had some great traction early on which helped to create some demand and as we progressed we found many people had been looking for a company such as ours to do business with.”

Their designs and craftsmanship have really helped them get out in front of their competitors and reflect their connection to Kakadu.

“Our designs originate from the bush in the Northern Territory, we work with Dale and he draws on canvas his latest ideas and designs and we work through together what would work in today’s market. We feel this unique craftsmanship is rare and each piece of clothing shares Dale’s story and his tribe’s details, adding to the value of our products.”

The business has also created an ambassador relationship with Nova Peris OAM, an Australian politician and Territorian, which reflects their strong connection to the community.

Engaging customers
Bradford has been working full-time in the business for the last year and most of her energy goes into engaging customers and building her client base.

She said she has been working to do this in many ways including selling Kakadu Tiny Tots’ products at markets and exhibitions. These venues really help to expose the brand to as many people as possible.

“In the early days, we did even the smallest local market as we viewed all exposure as good exposure.

“We also created a great, easy to use website which was very important to us to be seen as professional as possible. To stimulate growth, we regularly add free gifts into our website orders and send many samples away to potential, future retailers.”

Chasing big dreams for Tiny Tots
Not one to shy away from a challenge, Bradford has huge hopes for the business moving forward.

“We’re looking for that big Australian company to take on our products for the right reason and we hope to develop a long-lasting relationship with that company and we hope to branch out more into exporting our range.”

But even as the business expands, Bradford says that Kakadu Tiny Tots will remain connected to her heritage.

“As we grow we are determined to not forget where we came from. I grew up in remote NT and return regularly. We hope to be in a position one day to give back substantially to this region.”


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Chloe Potvin
Chloe Potvin is the former small business editor for Kochie's Business Builders.