American businessman Victor Kiam became famous for the phrase "I liked the shaver so much I bought the company"

when he took over Remington.

Now a Sussex entrepreneur is following in his footsteps after buying the 1970s brand Clothkits from mail order company Freemans.

Kay Mawer, who lives in Chichester, said: "As a mother with two young children, I desperately wanted to be able to make lovely things for the two of them.

"Clothkits seemed to offer the answer - only trouble was, I had to buy the company to do it!"

Clothkits designs can be bought as complete garments but the company specialises in sew-it-yourself kits.

Rather than using paper patterns, all the cutting lines are printed directly on the fabric, making it almost foolproof.

Each kit includes the threads, linings, buttons, zippers and other accessories along with easy to follow instructions.

Clothkits became a household name after it was set up in Lewes in 1969 but had lain dormant since Freemans took it over in the early 1990s.

Kay, 36, who lives with her partner Nigel, 38, and daughters Grace, six, and Tilly, two, said: "Freemans bought it in 1991 and effectively asset-stripped it and left it in a cupboard.

"It was still quite big in the late 1980s but all they were interested in was its database to sell more ready-to-wear stuff."

Despite Freemans lack of enthusiasm for Clothkits, it took a lot of persuasion before they would give up the brand and so far Kay has spent more than £30,000 on setting up her business.

Kay approached Freemans while studying a fine art degree at Chichester College. She thought it would not only be a good business venture but an opportunity to support creative people who find it hard to get work.

Kay said: "My sister and cousin are both artists and I have seen them struggle to make a living, often having to take another job which didn't use their talents.

"I saw that Clothkits could be used to give creative people a springboard to show off their work."

So far Kay has teamed up with London-based Rob Ryan and Brighton designer Jane Foster.

"I'm always searching for up and coming designers so I can keep a rotation going and keep things fresh." Kay has been surprised at how many parents are familiar with the Clothkits name.

She said: "It has been great to get out there and see who remembers the brand and how strong it has remained."

Kay now plans to concentrate on developing the range of designs available and in the future aims to help increase the popularity of sewing within schoolchildren.

She said: "Sewing has been in decline in schools but teachers are looking for projects and I can provide a kit which shows how simple and fun it can be to make a garment."

Clothkits are available from £12 at