Meet the Maker: Jo Kalute of Clovelly Cozzies

APR 23, 2018 updated Jun 2, 2021

The sun is out and we’re headed to the beach to meet maker and designer Jo Kalute of the women’s swimwear brand Clovelly Cozzies based out of Sydney, Australia. Inspired by sea-side living and Jo’s African heritage, Clovelly Cozzies offers timeless beauty that is accessible to women all across the globe. Not summer-ready in your part of the world? A unique thing about Jo is that she offers the designs she features on her swimwear line in her Spoonflower shop. (We’re loving her Many Hands Print on the Inari Crop Tee available on Sprout Patterns.) It was such a pleasure getting to know Jo and you’re going to love this featureso suit up and dive in! 

 My day starts with…

“A healthy breakfast of muesli, yogurt, and fruit followed by a hot cup of coffee. I love to brew my own coffee at home and experiment with different blends. I’m partial to Kenyan coffee!”

Gordon’s Bay, Clovelly

When did you fall in love with design?

“I remember participating in art contests against my peers (mostly boys) in elementary school in Kenya, where the subject matter was always sports cars. We came up with a step-by-step formula on how to draw a car and sometimes we would try to beat the clock! That is how I first fell in love with design. The prospect of breaking down a product to the sum of its parts and then build it up was exciting! I went on to study Building Design at the University of Melbourne.”

What piece of your wardrobe best represents your style?

My denim jumpsuits. I have two of these that I wear in a rotation as my ‘uniform’ that I can easily dress up or down.”

What’s in your toolbox?

“Paper and pen, carving blocks and inks for block printing, my MacBook, and Wacom tablet. Also, a Janome sewing machine and a Janome over-locker as I make my own swimwear products.”

What is your process when creating for Clovelly Cozzies?

“I take cues from observing nature and my surroundings. I am gravitating from an ‘inspired’ practice into a more disciplined practice of carving a little time each day to explore and experiment with different mediums.

In particular, I love the organic quality of block printing. The Fibonacci Print shown below was inspired by nature’s golden rule as observed in sea-shells and began as a lino-print, which I scanned into my computer and manipulated into a digital repeat pattern in Photoshop. It’s my best selling swimwear print.”

Fibonacci Spiral Print by jokalute | Boho Green High-Waisted Bikini by Clovelly Cozzies

 When I’m in my studio, I feel…

“Focused!”

Who or what influences or inspires your work and why?

“My designs are informed by observing nature, seaside living, and by my Kenyan heritage. Women in the fashion and design industry are also a huge source of inspiration for me. Mara Hoffman’s sustainable swimwear line resonates with the vision I have for my print-focused label.”

Le’ Maasai Print by jokalute is inspired by the traditional textiles of the Maasai people found in Kenya and Tanzania | Lé Maasai High-Waisted Bikini by Clovelly Cozzies

What are you working on right now?

“I am currently working on a brief to translate sound into a visual pattern for a local musician. It will be showcased on his international tour. I am excited to see how it will come together once it’s animated.”

If I could live in a painting it would be…

Clovelly Beach in Winter by Nick Hollo, via Winkle Galleries, Clovelly.

“This painting is by a local artist, Nick Hollo. It depicts Clovelly Bay, which is a 5-minute walk from my home. I am very content to live in this part of Sydney as it is as idyllic and inspiring as this painting shows.”

What is the secret to a strong collection?

“I have never committed to creating a fabric collection before but I think a strong color palette used consistently throughout the collection is a sure winner!”

What is your mantra?

“My day-to-day mantra is a Swahili saying, “Haba na haba hujaza kibaba.” It translates to, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” It is a daily reminder to take things one step at a time once I have set a clear goal.”

Clovelly Cozzies offers the Broccoli Print by jokalute on both womens and girls swimsuits

What drew you to Spoonflower and how does Spoonflower meet your needs?

“I learned about Spoonflower in 2013 through a crafty pal of my mum’s. I was instantly hooked! I purchased ‘A Field Guide to Fabric Design’ by Kimberly Knight, which became my design bible as I learned the art of making repeat patterns.

Spoonflower now plays a vital role in my swimwear business as I am assured of a quality product using the highly durable Sport Lycra fabric. I have found the printing to be consistent over the years and as a PRO member, the customer support is top notch! It’s so helpful that Spoonflower does not have yardage minimums, which is sustainable to my business when printing samples and fulfilling smaller orders.”

Many Hands Print by jokalute | Many Hands One-Piece by Clovelly Cozzies

What is your proudest moment in the last year?

“Starting my swimwear label, Clovelly Cozzies. Although it is still a young business finding its legs, I have found an outlet to showcase my textile designs. I am currently working on my second collection.”


Jo Kalute works, lives and plays in Clovelly, a small idyllic coastal suburb of Sydney, Australia with her husband and eight-year-old daughter. Be sure to follow her on Instagram @hellojokalute.

All images provided by Clovelly Cozzies and Viviana Barrero.

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