Cath Kidston Ltd was founded in 1993 when designer Cath Kidston opened a tiny shop in London's Holland Park. She began by selling the vintage fabrics, wallpapers and brightly-painted junk furniture she remembered fondly from her childhood. Her clever, witty re-working of traditional English country house style meant that her shop soon became a cult success.
Gradually Cath began to design her own prints and products. One of the first was a printed ironing board cover - practical, quirky and with a distinctive floral print, it has come to epitomize the Cath Kidston look. The product base has expanded steadily to include an extensive range of homewares as well as women's fashion and accessories and the 2008 launch of the Cath Kids brand. Various products are manufactured under license by companies such as Churchill China and Fulton Umbrellas.
Over the years Cath's high-profile collaborations have included creating tents with Milletts (2005-6), Nokia mobile phones with Carphone Warehouse (2006) and collectible radios with Roberts (2005 onwards). In 2008 she collaborated with Tesco to produce printed eco shopping bags made from plastic bottles to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Sales of the bags raised almost £500,000 for the charity and saved about six million plastic bottles from landfill. In 2009 Cath collaborated with Maclaren to produce a children's buggy in her classic spot red print. She has also published five books, most recently Sew! with Quadrille in October 2009 - a follow up to 2008's hugely successful Make!
Cath Kidston Limited has expanded steadily to become the unique global lifestyle brand it is today, with Cath remaining Creative Director. Currently there are 30 shops and concessions in the UK, two shops in the Republic of Ireland, seven in Japan and one in Kuwait. In October 2009 a shop opened at Heathrow Airport's revamped Terminal 4 - the company's first in an airport - and in November two new temporary 'pop-in' shops were opened in London to make the most of the busy Christmas trading period. The business' successful worldwide mail order, web and wholesale divisions also continue to grow.
Cath Kidston Ltd is one of the most influential and original design companies to emerge from the UK in recent years. It was announced in the Queen's 2009 New Year Honours List that Cath Kidston is to be awarded an MBE for services to business in 2010.