Businesswoman, entrepreneur and mentor Kate Dawson hopes the award of her OBE – for services to business – will encourage young people to follow their hearts.
Kate, a qualified nursery nurse, started The All-in-Company because she could not find onesies to fit her three-year-old daughter Lilly to keep her warm at night.
The company was launched in Ashington in Northumberland in 2008 with some support but amid much scepticism. Very soon, however, adults began buying onesies in such large numbers for themselves – not their children – that the onesie became a new fashion item and must-have Christmas present.
“It was all about creating a garment that’s unique to you,” said Kate. “The success was down to a combination of new technology in the shape of our website – which allowed each customer to design and create their very own bespoke onesie – and the quality of the product.”
The quality was provided by Kate’s choice of luxury “snuggletastic” material and a revival of the old sewing skills – as demonstrated by her skilled team cutters and machinists – which had largely lay dormant since the decline of the south east Northumberland textile industry in the 1980s.
Each onesie is hand-made. No customer is turned away. All sizes are catered for – from 0-3 months to 8XL and maternity.
Customers multiplied, awards followed and TV shows – including Celebrity Big Brother, The X Factor, Dancing on Ice and Hollyoaks – dressed their stars in onesies made by The All-in-One Company.
Away from the spotlight Kate was able to support causes and people close to her heart. No material was wasted. All offcuts have been given to schools, care homes and hobbyists.
One of her proudest achievements was creating a Sensory Onesie for children on the autism spectrum who are particularly sensitive to the touch of materials and in particular the seams of garments. Kate and her team worked with two children and their mothers to design and manufacture a suitable onesie, then donated some of the money from sales to The National Autistic Society.
The All-in-One Company has provided blankets for Newcastle’s rough sleepers, sent onesies to Baby Banks around the UK and supported Comic Relief, Macmillan Cancer Support and Oxfam.
Kate has inspired young people of all ages, visiting numerous schools to talk about and encourage enterprise. She has provided work experience opportunities for Year 10 students and, through the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Kate has become an enterprise adviser at the James Calvert Spence College in Amble.
She has worked closely with Northumberland College to create an apprenticeship scheme and has set projects for Fashion students at Northumbria University working towards their Masters degrees.
In the summer, when her business – like many others – felt the impact of the pandemic, Kate turned her attention to forming a Scrub Hub. Working with other local businesses and Age UK Northumberland she created a group of more than 120 professional and amateur machinists to make desperately needed protective clothing for health workers.
“I’m so proud, but still can’t believe it said Kate of her honour. “So much has happened in the last 12 years and I’ve had the support of so many wonderful people. I started The All-in-One Company to solve a simple problem and I never imagined it would open the door to all of these fantastic experiences and opportunities. Hopefully my story will encourage young people to pursue their dreams as well and to follow their hearts.”
Lilly – Kate’s daughter, whose cold nights were the reason the business was created – now works for The All-in-One Company. She has completed her Level 3 apprenticeship in digital marketing and is currently studying towards her Level 4.
For more information about The All-in-One Company visit its website www.the-all-in-one-company.co.uk