Meet the Boss Lady behind Pika + Pookie
We met Hayley from Pika + Pookie at the NZ Gift Fair and loved her bubbly personality and modern style, which was reflected in her print designs. At that stage, we hadn’t considered including a print in our gift boxes, but we instantly fell in love with Hayley’s designs so made it work. And, as it turns out, our customer’s love them too. We caught up with Hayley as part of our 'Getting to Know' series where we learn more about the creative people behind the items in our boutique gift boxes.
How was Pika + Pookie born?
I’ve always had a creative side as well as a huge passion for interiors and homewares. The key inspiration behind Pika + Pookie came about around early 2016 when my sister-in-law was pregnant with twins. I wanted to give them some twin-related wall art for their newly renovated nursery and despite looking high and low, I couldn’t find anything that really jumped out so I decided to just design something myself. They were so well received that I then went on to make some more prints for other family members with kids as well as some pieces for our own home, which we had just started renovating. It was then that I started to think that other people, other than my family, might also like my work so the idea to turn it into a business grew from there. I’ve always dreamed of owning my own business and had never felt truly settled in my chosen career path, so it was a no-brainer to decide to give it a go. I’m so glad to have found something I’m incredibly passionate about!
What is the story behind your name Pika + Pookie Designs?
My partner is going to kill me for spilling this, but the name Pika + Pookie actually came about from funny little nicknames that we call each other for a laugh! He started to jokingly call me ‘Pika’ early on in our relationship since I apparently reminded him of the Pokemon character Pikachu – small (I’m tiny compared to his 6ft 5 height!), energetic and full of zap since I’m always on the go racing around doing things. In return, I tried to think of a silly, cheesy nickname for him and settled on Pookie – mainly because he absolutely hated it and I’d wind him up calling him that! So when we started the business and were trying to come up with a name we jokingly started referring to it as Pika + Pookie, since it was our little baby, and from there it just stuck. We thought it worked because it was unique as well as being light hearted and fun, which is what our business is about – we don’t take ourselves too seriously and we try and put a fun and sometimes quirky twist on things while still remaining modern.
Where do you get your ongoing inspiration from?
I get my inspiration for new designs from so many different places and sometimes they come to me at really random times like when I’m at the beach or out walking the dog! I get inspired by beautiful quotes, song lyrics, eye-catching colour schemes, patterns, and even from customers who often have really cool ideas, which I help turn into custom prints for them. I spend a lot of time on social media – especially Instagram and Pinterest – as well as devouring home and lifestyle magazines and am constantly trying to keep on top of what’s popular as well as trying to figure out upcoming trends.
What has been the highlight of your business journey?
We launched in November 2016 and since then it has been a non-stop crazy rollercoaster ride! There have been many highlights to date but I’d say the biggest one has been getting involved with the NZ Gift Fair to develop and grow the wholesale arm of our business. When we first started, one of our goals was to secure a single stockist in our first year and at just 8 months in we currently have 20 so we have already massively surpassed that goal! It gives us a huge sense of pride that retailers love our products and want to stock them in their stores.
What has been the biggest learning curve?
While developing the wholesale side of the business has been our biggest highlight, it has also hands-down been our steepest learning curve!
What is the key thing you want customers to know about you and your business?
We are sticklers for delivering a high quality product with top customer service. We are especially proud of our extensive print range, which has all been designed in house by myself and printed locally on quality art stock – we get such great feedback about the quality of our prints which makes us very proud! Our customers are our number one priority and we strive to go above and beyond. Some of the key things we do include, taking on custom print orders, offering a 30 day no-hassle returns/refund service, and adding little handwritten thank-you notes for our customers in each order for a nice personal touch.
Describe a typical day in the Pika + Pookie HQ?
First things first, I always make a cup of coffee as soon as I get up – I can’t start my day without one! I usually spend an hour in the mornings answering emails from the night before, printing postage labels for orders to be sent out or planning my social media posts for that day. After that, I head off to my full-time job as a property valuer. Since Pika + Pookie is so new, I’m still juggling it with my day job, however my dream is to be able to work on the business fulltime. After work, I generally spend the majority of the evening working on Pika + Pookie, which consists of packing orders, working on custom designs or just general admin. It’s not unusual for me to be up until midnight or into the early hours!
What are your goals and aspirations for Pika + Pookie?
When we first started we solely sold prints and we have gradually started expanding into adding other offerings to our store including homewares and kids’ decor. Our goal is to continue to expand our range with carefully curated items that we personally love and that we think our customers will love too. We are a little bit unique because we have products under our own brand as well as products from other existing brands. Our ultimate, long-term goal would be to open a physical store.
What is your most popular Pika + Pookie product and why do you think that is?
Our most popular item would be our ‘And Then One Day There Was You’ print. I think it’s the most popular because it’s quite versatile – it could be used in a nursery or kid’s room, or a master bedroom. I originally designed it for an engagement gift for a friend.
Little Koha is all about giving and gratitude – who are you most grateful for and why?
We are super grateful to other business owners who we have met and who have taken the time to offer guidance, mentorship and friendship along the way. We have learnt so much from these wonderful, talented people and are grateful for them taking the time to help us out in our business journey.