Interview with Kathrin Bonfigt, Founder of Miss Summer

Kathrin Bonfigt is the founder of ‘Miss Summer’, a boutique beach and surf wear brand based in Brisbane. Originally from Germany, the name ‘Miss Summer’ derives from Kathrin’s desire to chase the sun all year-round; a dream she achieved by migrating to Australia in 2012. Passionate about conservation and a staunch advocate for slow fashion, Kathrin uses recycled ocean plastics and organic cotton to create her clothing. Kathrin’s ultimate goal is to provide high-quality beach apparel to fellow sun enthusiasts that not only looks great but benefits the environment too.

Can you tell me a bit about how your fashion journey started?

I wanted something to put over myself after surfing and I couldn’t find a product that was versatile enough. So, I just had to make something for myself and it escalated from there!

What made you decide to come to QUT Creative Enterprise Australia?

I wanted to make my own things so I attended a sewing course. After that, I intended to keep sewing but I didn’t want to buy my own sewing machine as I was moving around too much. I looked at a place where I could rent one and found the CEA Fashion Accelerator program. I thought I may as well sell my products to other people who might like them too!

What have you been learning so far?

I think for me it’s mostly fashion design as I had done graphic design prior to this. Business is something I knew a bit about as well, so it was really fashion I had little experience in. I learned a lot, such as sourcing materials, how everything works and how long it takes to make a pattern.

How would you describe ‘?’

It’s bright, it’s fun and all about loving life!

What’s it like being in an environment with other designers?

It’s great as starting a business, especially a fashion business, is really hard and it’s good to be around people who are in the same position as you are. Family and friends don’t understand as much because they’re not in your shoes.

What would you say has been your biggest hurdle?

Doing it on the side of a full-time job, as I still work four days a week as a graphic designer. Time and money restraints are also very hard.

How do you juggle that?

I’ve learned a lot about time management! I think you need to be good at spreading your time and energy. I’ve realised I tend to get caught up with things, especially if it goes wrong. I’ve learned to let stuff go quicker as I just don’t have the time to worry about it. You have to keep going. You can get angry or stressed out but it won’t help anyone.

Who (or what) is your go-to for inspiration?

The ocean and nature in general. Maybe a bit of music as well. And life!

Can you tell me more about your love of the ocean and conservation efforts?

As a surfer, I want to keep the ocean as it is, and not let it die. The ocean keeps us alive so we have it keep it healthy! I want to help with that even if it’s just spreading the word. I’d also like to get involved with organisations that do beach cleanups and promote less plastic use. If you go to the beach you don’t have to do a big beach clean-up, just pick up any rubbish you see. I’d like to keep promoting things like that.

What have you got coming up?

I’m looking to launch the online shop and sell the collection which I’m planning to do it in three drops. Next year I’m hoping to make different products and expand to Europe, especially Germany, as there’s a big kite surfing community over there.

Any advice for aspiring fashion designers?

If it’s your dream, just go for it! I found that when I started it felt like a blank canvas and I had no idea what was going to happen. But you just have to keep moving forward and make one small step at a time.

Five-year plan?

I would like to grow Miss Summer both Australia and worldwide. I love the brand ‘Patagonia’ as they’re a sustainable company that has been able to maintain fantastic values despite being quite large. I would like to do the surf version of that!

Eager to check out Kathrin’s designs? Check out her site here

Kathrin is a recent graduate of Fashion360, our six-month program designed to equip early-stage fashion entrepreneurs with all the essentials required to execute and sustain a growing business. It comprises of weekly workshops and masterclasses covering a wide range of topics with industry experts.

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