Little O Clothing
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
I launched an Etsy store about a year ago and am now about to re-launch my own website (http://littleonyc.com/). Shibori Dresses and Rompers will be available in limited quantities this summer.
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I’ve been a designer since I was 18 – I was an apprentice for Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and at Chloé, before coming here to work for DVF. I started Little O After the birth of my second daughter Athene, I found a career in high-end fashion wasn’t compatible with my vision of motherhood and am carving out a new career for myself in children's apparel.
After working in luxury fashion for years I developed a huge appreciation for the skill and detail involved in making beautiful garments and was struggling to find clothing I liked for my girls that was simple, functional, playful but not childish – while also being vibrant and interesting.
Our clothes are designed to be heirloom pieces – not seasonal fashion trends, and we aim to focus on high-quality fabrics and artisanal techniques that are hard to mass produce. There is real beauty in handmade clothing – the imperfections are what make each piece special. I started knitting pieces for my eldest daughter Audrey and soon after Athene was born I experimented with the art of Shibori dying (during nap times!).
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
I am passionate about slow-fashion. My pieces are often one-of-a-kind and have been produced ethically, slowly and with care by myself and my team in NYC. Each piece is hand-knit or hand-dyed and sewn and designed to become heirloom pieces to be handed down. My personal style is reflected in the clothes I make – eclectic, textural, embellished and printed textiles – but all on fabrics and silhouettes that aren’t too precious, since they are children's clothes for playing in.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
There’s plenty of room for imaginative, creative design in this city – it’s a very supportive community and I believe quality of design will stand the test of time. I’m desperate to create a few lovely pieces each season that are well considered and unique – a return to slow fashion and an emphasis on ‘less is more’. I am passionate about researching and learning new techniques – Little O will evolve each year to reflect my love of textiles. We have big plans for the coming year, including an exciting collaboration with one of my favorite friends, a fantastic print designer in London.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Our clothes are beautiful and creative but first and foremost they are designed to be played in, easily washed and ‘no fuss’. I’m also often found working on one-off commissions for clients – special occasion dresses, custom bed quilts and handknits.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I get a real thrill seeing my designs being worn and loved, but my favorite part of the job is in the design process – if I can steal a few hours to experiment with a new dye technique or a new stitch pattern I’m a happy lady!
We live in a reasonably small apartment in NYC so in reality this means putting the kids to bed and sitting out on the tiny balcony with a vat of dye, some folded linen and a NPR to listen to. As with most design jobs along with the ‘fun’ elements there comes the hard work, late nights, and constant self questioning.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
This is a tough one! I feel like I’ve lived at least two lives here in this city. One pre-motherhood and then my current life. Five years ago I would have likely said “anywhere where Mister Saturday Night is playing” – the Gowanus canal on a Sunday afternoon with the sun on my face and a (slightly warm) can of PBR in my hand!
Now it’s unusual for me to carve out real ‘me’ time – I adore the store ‘Purl Soho’ – a knitting store that sells beautiful hand dyed yarns from all over the world. For a special splurge (when my close friend is in town from London) we’ve enjoyed Aire Baths on Franklin Street – 2 hours of chatting away followed by a drink, or a few, on Grand Banks – the old wooden schooner moored near my apartment. It’s been there a few years now but sadly the secret is out. I’m going to need to find a new ‘secret spot’!
How do you benefit mamas?
I’m not sure I could credit myself with that much of an accolade, as a designer of clothing, but I hope that my designs bring joy and a little spark of fun to as many people as possible. It’s a real treat to be doing something that I love, whilst also caring for my (soon to be) three girls and I don’t take that for granted
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
Audrey, my four year-old, tried on a dress at the factory and loudly announced to the entire room it was ‘itchy’. I was crushed! I had my heart set on using this iridescent sparkle linen fabric I’d found after hours and hours of searching. Sometimes you have to listen to your harshest critics.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
Misha & Puff- knitwear designed in Brooklyn, made in Peru – lovely color palette and simple design.
Soor Ploom – wovens made in Brooklyn – lovely vintage feel clothing, again simple shapes and subtle colours.
Zimmerman Shoes – handmade in Pennsylvania (http://zimmermanshoes.com/) - traditional styles in fun colors and very well-made.
What is the best advice anyone has ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Ha! A good friend told me I don’t have time for a mantra – I have a third daughter on the way and having an official mantra only adds another veneer of pressure to this life I live.
It’s hard to be the person I envisage in my mind, ALL of the time because ‘real life’ gets in the way and throws in obstacles – but I try to keep my head down and concentrate – and I ask questions, lots and lots of questions. There’s always someone out there with different experiences to share. I wonder if I will still feel like a beginner when I’m 80?!
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
Elsa said it best when she sang ‘let it go’. I do, all the time. I am actually not great at saving time – I have a creative mind and it wanders a lot, so when that happens I take a deep breath and let the day unfold.
I learned long ago to pick my battles – so now my four year old picks out her clothes and I find the slightly odd and eclectic mixes very endearing. I’ll miss these days when they’re gone, I’m sure of it.