Hetty Cummins is the owner of Inner West-based kids’ jewellery brand Zookkie. Zookkie stocks all kinds of jewellery for kids, from colourful and cute items to fancier styles for special occasions. Hetty was inspired to set up the business after finding a lack of suitable jewellery options for her children, who are now very much a part of her business.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a proud Inner Westie, always have been. I grew up in Glebe and currently live in Annandale. I met my husband at Fort Street High School in Petersham and we now have three kids.
What did you do prior to establishing Zookkie?
I worked in the corporate world, in brand and internal communications for 20 years. I also completed a Masters in Business Administration at University of Technology Sydney.
What motivated you to set up Zookkie?
A few years ago we went on a family trip to the United States. I decided to purchase charms for my bracelet wherever we went as souvenirs. My daughter loved that bracelet and we would talk about it often on our return. One day she asked if she could wear it, but unfortunately it was simply too valuable for an active young child. I began to search around to see what might be an appropriate alternative. I wanted something that was nicer than silicone or plastic but not too expensive. I realised the range of children’s jewellery was very limited. And so I became interested in establishing my own kids’ jewellery line.
What does Zookkie mean?
It’s a made-up word! I like to think it means that you are free to be whoever you want to be and explore the fun side of things.
What do you love about your business?
I love all our pieces – the themes, the colours, and the quality. Although the jewellery is for children, I find it all highly appealing myself! It is so satisfying to see the collection grow, receive positive feedback from our customers and plan what is coming next.
While I do all the day-to-day undertakings, I also love that my kids are involved in the business too. My son, who is in high school, organises the warehousing and has an interest in the business strategy. My elder daughter helps me select our product range. And my younger daughter loves the photography and social media side of it all. It’s been wonderful to educate them in the workings of a real business and hopefully create a legacy together.
What kinds of products do you offer?
The Zookkie collection is aimed at kids aged 6–12 years, and includes rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets and charms in a wide variety of age-appropriate themes. Our themes include unicorns, rainbows, cupcakes, dolphins, puppies – all the cute things that kids love! We adore bright colours, everything that sparkles or is just too cute to resist! We update our store regularly, so there is always something new for a birthday, Christmas or special occasion.
What can customers expect from your products/service?
I pride myself on customer service. I ensure orders are turned around in a timely manner and also beautifully packaged. There is lots of tissue paper and ribbons and I like to pop an extra little surprise into each order. Our customers often comment on our jewellery boxes, which are in the shape of a cupcake or ice-cream: some say they love opening their order as much as the jewellery itself!
Have you ever read a book that has changed your perspective or path in life?
Two of my favourites are Gone with the Wind, because of its strong female character, and The Celestine Prophecy, because of its psychological and spiritual evaluation of life. I first read these books as a young woman. Their insights have stayed with me all these years and I refer back to them in my mind often, especially when things can be a bit challenging.
What advice can you offer mums who are thinking of making a career or lifestyle change?
Two things. First, if you’re starting a business, then it absolutely must be something you are passionate about. I think about Zookkie day and night. The hours can be long, and sometimes it feels like you are not making any progress, so you want to make sure you really care about what you are doing.
Also, remember you can’t do everything all at once. Sometimes you just have to make a start, even if it’s not totally perfect. You can finesse things along the way.
As a mother, what is the best piece of advice you have received?
It’s important to take a step back from your kids at times. Let them make their own decisions and learn from mistakes so they can grow and develop.
Favourite places in the Inner West?
I love being a part of the Annandale community, it’s so family-friendly. I like to shop local, and chat with the staff. Phoenix Chicken, on Booth Street, is great value and fantastic for an easy Friday night dinner.
Getting to Know … back articles
You can find all our past Getting to Know … pieces here.