Jem Coursey models his mother Katie’s range of baby clothes. Photo: Sarah Ryland

Baby photo started online business

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When Katie Coursey uploaded a photo to Facebook of her baby son wearing a homemade punk outfit, she had no idea it would lead to a successful business which earns her more than a fulltime job.
The 31-year-old Nelson mother of two started Punk Baby Clothing in 2009 after friends began asking if she could make them some of the skull-and-crossbones-inspired clothes Jem, now almost 4, was wearing.
Katie set up a business page on Facebook and the niche brand was born.
Now clothing sales amount to $60,000 a year, she has 7600 “likes” – translation: a huge following of fans – and last year quit her job as a jewellery designer to concentrate on the business. “It’s pretty amazing. Sometimes I have to think, ‘Whoa, what the hell has happened?”’
She sends off up to 50 packages of clothing each week and is now at the threshold where she must register to pay GST for the business. She already pays income tax.
In December Katie hired a seamstress to help sew all the clothes she creates in her kitchen, orders for which come from across New Zealand, Australia and even as far afield as Canada and England.
When Punk Baby Clothing began, Katie tried selling the clothes on Trade Me but sales were slow until she switched back to Facebook and began marketing the site.
She set up a website but says 98 per cent of orders still come through Facebook, where a business page is free and interactive.
Using social media Katie has collaborated with other sellers to attract more followers.
However she says Facebook was fickle. “They make changes all the time. I don’t put all my faith in Facebook although it’s been really good to me, anything could happen because it’s a free service.”
Her advice for other would-be Facebook entrepreneurs is to “stick with something you know”.
“Go with what you like and don’t try to ride on anyone else’s coat-tails.”
Employers and Manufacturers Association spokesman Gilbert Peterson says that people who used social media to garner business were “innovative and creative”.
However, the disadvantages included negative comments being posted on your site. “You could open yourself to some attack from a competitor.”
He says the businesses were mostly small, one-person operations and a good way for people to “get started” before establishing a website.