Chapter 3: When Inspiration Strikes
As a child, I was constantly battling my mother for autonomy over what I could wear. She was always trying to put me in feminine dresses, ruffled socks, and dainty shoes. I liked to wear dresses, but I also liked to climb trees and ride my bike. I never wanted my clothing to restrict what I could do, which is a philosophy I've carried with me when creating my own clothing brand and dressing my children.
I have two twins in preschool, Leo and Mia, who have both been fiercely independent since day 1. Mia has never been very girly, usually starting a sword fight instead of dressing up as a princess. Leo on the other hand, is more sensitive, and artistic. He plays with all kinds of toys, dolls included. It drives my mother crazy that I let them decide how to dress and what to play with, but I don’t believe in telling them how they should express themselves. I don’t want to force rigid gender stereotypes on my preschoolers.
I’m lucky my husband Adam feels the same way. We’re a bit of an unlikely pair, he’s a nerdy IT guy and I’m an artist, but together we just work. But he is not much help when I’m struggling to come up with new ideas for my next collection. My clothing brand is for women and mums, fashionable clothes made from sustainable materials. When I was pregnant with the twins, I couldn’t find any maternity clothing that was environmentally friendly and still felt like me. Most maternity brands are hyper-feminine, I was reminded again of my childhood when my mum always told me how I should dress. So I decided to make my own clothes for women and mums. My brand is known for stylish tops with hidden nursing features, coats that look chic with or without a baby tucked inside, and dresses made from comfortable, sustainable fabrics that can accommodate a growing belly.
Now, I need inspiration to strike again. The designs for my new collection are due in 2 weeks and I don’t have any big ideas. After another long work day, I came home, looking forward to relaxing and spending time with the kids. When I arrived, Adam was making dinner but the house was a mess. While I appreciated him cooking, I did not appreciate that he had also lost track of the kids. I found them in our closet trying on some of my very expensive formal dresses.
I’m ashamed to admit that I yelled at them. I instantly felt guilty. I had been looking forward to seeing them all day and then immediately had no patience. They already knew they were not allowed to play there. With sorry expressions, they said they were dressing up like me. It warmed my heart and made me feel worse for getting angry. I apologized for yelling and dug up some of my and Adam’s old clothes for them to play with instead. I watched them running around the house in my old pajamas, and Adam’s long-forgotten cowboy hat, when an idea struck me.
I quickly grabbed my sketchbook, sat amongst all of the discarded clothes, and began sketching. I knew what my next collection would be. Sustainable clothes for mums and their kids who wanted to dress like them. Designs that would boost mums’ confidence during every stage of pregnancy/motherhood, along with clothes that kids could wear while having a tea party or jumping on a trampoline. Girls could choose from dresses or pants. Boys could dress like their mum too, with outfits made from the same patterns. Mums could lead by example and teach their kids from an early age the importance of confidence, sustainability, and self-expression. The twins have inspired me and my designs since I began my brand when they were in my belly. I feel proud and excited to create something for them too.