From her dining room table in Leyton, Kala Paul-Worika creates clothing, accessories and home décor that bring the vibrancy of African print materials to a wider audience.
I’m fascinated by Kala’s double life as a showbiz writer for national newspapers and also an entrepreneur. I’m so happy she agreed to take part in my Q&A series.
Name: Kala Paul-Worika
Business: By Kala x - made by me, with love!
Who lives in your house?
My husband and my two kids - aged 11 and 3.
What were you doing before you started your business?
I was and still am a journalist. Not sure I'd turn down a night of free booze with celebs but sewing definitely helped me wind down after a day in the office. I'd gone on a course with my sister and it reignited my interest in it after doing it at secondary school. I then started making bibs as gifts for my friends and it grew from there. I was an editor at a forward planning diary (The Media Eye) when I started the business, but really focused on it when I went on maternity leave with my son in 2017, doing a heap of markets and getting to know the local makers community.
What inspired you to start your business, was there a lightbulb moment?
As a Nigerian, I love the vibrancy of African print material but growing up only wore it for special occasions. I wanted to make items people could wear everyday if they wanted to! And I particularly liked the idea of creating colourful baby gifts as an alternative to the usual pastels and a thousand shades of white offerings.
How has lockdown changed the way your business operates now?
Last year was set to be a bumper time of markets, as I felt I'd finally settled on the ones that worked best for me, but obviously Coronavirus had other ideas! So my focus turned to promoting my online shop and I noticed a huge increase in sales of home decor items - like clocks and table napkins, and so I went with the flow and increased my range. I'm still doing the showbiz malarkey, although be it remotely!
Name a product that you'd never bought until Covid happened?
A plant/seed subscription service called Pot Gang, plus a whole range of knitting needles! My knitting obsession kicked off this latest lockdown because I was looking for something to do while I could be in the same room as my son - needles are more portable - and quieter-than a sewing machine!
What are you most looking forward to when things go back to normal?
Markets! Plus going to touch and feel fabric before buying it!
Best piece of advice you were ever given; or a saying that you live by?
If you never try, you'll never know.
Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Any words of wisdom for new or expecting parents?
Your kids will only ever have one you - don't waste time comparing yourself to others.
Desert island product - what can't you live without?
Right now? Probably my knitting needles - I'm addicted LOL.
Original portrait photo: @joannewarrenmoore