A Business of Kids Play with Odette

Odette Williams, 35, hails from Sydney but now calls Brooklyn, New York, home. Billabout met her and her kids-inspired wares at Brooklyn Flea in Fort Greene one sunny Saturday afternoon. She tells us her story of the unintended start to her business, and some tips to the city.

When did you start your business?
I started it two years ago, after I had my second child. I never intended it to be a business it just seems to have steered itself in that direction. I was making collaged children’s artworks because I loved doing them, then a friend saw them and encouraged me to take them to a terrific children’s store here in Brooklyn called Acorn. They started selling them and re-ordering, so I kept making them, and from there things have grown.

How do you come up with your designs?
New York and parenthood collided at the same time for me and both have been really inspiring. I seem to gravitate towards the world of children. Back in Australia I used to teach kids at Australian Theatre for Young People and NIDA and now I have a kids line. When I design for kids I just feel that your imagination can run wild.

Where are the designs made?
All my garments are sewn in Manhattan’s garment district, here in New York.

Where do you sell your wares?
Acorn, Erica Tanov, Moon River Chattel, online at www.odettewilliams.com or you can catch me at the Brooklyn Flea most Saturdays.

Any funny tales for us about having a stall at the markets?
Just how many Australians I keep meeting there! We’re infiltrating the borough of Brooklyn. One Australian customer who bought one of my apron sets came back the following week to show me a video clip of her niece wearing it on her birthday in Melbourne.

How many kids do you have?
I have two children, Opal (5) and Ned (2), who have two fabulous big sisters, Dixie (12) and Matilda (10).

The best thing about raising kids in New York?
Both my kids were born in a hospital overlooking Central Park. How will I ever get them back to Australia?

And the hardest thing?
Being so far from family.

Have you always lived in Brooklyn?
We moved here three years ago from Manhattan and are currently trying to renovate a big old brownstone in Cobble Hill.

What’s the best thing about living there?
There’s always something new to discover.

Three favourite restaurants and bars in New York?
This is the best thing about living here – the food – it’s almost impossible to name just three…

Brooklyn Bowl is pretty great with Blue Ribbon serving their delicious food as you bowl and drink beer; Madison Eleven or Gramercy Tavern for something a little more formal; Fatty Cue for tasty Southeast Asian inspired meats.

What surprises you about living in New York?
Just how welcoming this city is.

What do you miss most about home?
My family, friends and the beaches.

What piece of advice would you give to an Australian that has just moved here?
Get your visa situation worked out.

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