After battling the coldest winter I can remember in forever, this last week there seems to be a change in the air. Spring, thank goodness, is just around the corner and my Instagram feed is filling with the beautiful imagery of Spring/Summer 2016 clothing collections.
Recently I came across a children’s clothing brand which stopped me in my scrolling tracks. It was a simple flat lay with a vintage peach playsuit and fresh blooms – enough to have me dreaming of lazy summer days in the sun.
Introducing Minouche, a whimsical brand of children’s clothing mixing European vintage style with modern detailing. A collection which owner Ally Mahoney has lovingly created with her very own hands.
Minty Magazine chats with creator Ally about the brand, where she finds inspiration and how she juggles life as a business owner and mummy.
Congratulations on the launch of Minouche! How did it all come about?
“With two little girls (Lottie, 4, and Molly, 18 months) I wanted unique, sweet, simple and lovely clothing for them that was ethically made, in fabric that felt good – without a huge price tag. I also wanted to create a business that would allow me to work from home. Combining the two seemed like a logical progression!
Initially I was sewing pieces from our lounge room table, which my usually patient husband didn’t love (I did later move to a desk in our bedroom – he didn’t love that either!). I began selling through Etsy – and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone with a little idea to start there – its such a supportive environment, and allowed me to figure out that this was what I really wanted to do, on a small, non-scary scale. Before too long, and much to my surprise, I wasn’t able to keep up with the orders I was getting.”
The name is very unique!
“Minouche is French for kitten. I wanted a European name to reflect the fact that the clothing I’ve designed has been influenced by gorgeous vintage European designs, and also lovely characters like Madeleine and Amelie. I chose kitten, because they have a lot in common with little girls – cute, sweet, curious, playful and they are all very lovely.”
How would you describe the new collection?
“The range is influenced by a number of factors. I love classic European children’s fashion – simple but lovely designs, suitable for the age of the child. I’m also inspired by the clothing of my childhood, and the dresses and outfits my mother made for me. Lots of sweet fabrics combined with lovely details and vintage appeal.
So the range is a bit of a combination of the two – a nod to both European and vintage designs, without being too literal. It’s still all designed to be totally suitable for the Australian way of life – lots of outdoor play and a bit of rough and tumble! Most of the pieces work equally well at the playground or at a party.
I’ve tried to use only fabrics from natural fibres because I myself feel uncomfortable in anything else, and also probably because I’m permanently scarred by all the nylon that finds its way into the house via dress up clothes.
I also wanted to create pieces that go well on their own, but also lend themselves to a bit of dress ups, or make believe. The playsuits, in particular, look so cute with nothing else except a pair of sandals. But if you have a little one like mine, who likes accessorizing with everything under the sun – a pirate hat, tutu, gumboots and a batman mask – well the playsuit is a great base for all of that.”
How are you finding managing the new business with being a mum?
“Honestly, it was a lot harder when I was doing this on a smaller scale, selling handmade items through Etsy. I started the business when my second child was around 6 months old, sewing from our lounge room table – at the same time we were living in our house while completing renovations.
So an average day would be something like a few minutes of sewing, change a nappy, talk to the builders outside, get the kids a snack, a little bit of quick and ineffective cleaning, rush off to the post office, try and get the baby to sleep amid the building noise, respond to email and repeat several times a day. It was awful and in hindsight I don’t know how I kept it together!
Producing on a larger scale has been more stressful in terms of investing our savings, borrowing from family and making bigger decisions…but I can do all these things when my husband is home or the kids are in bed. So in that respect it’s a lot easier managing it with the kids around.
The odd yoga class certainly helps!”
How would you describe your style?
“Very simple. I love simple and classic designs, usually. Streamlined design. Nothing fussy. Tizzy is not my bag. But not boring, rather clean shapes with an interesting print, or an interesting shape in a neutral colour.
That being said I love people who take risks and mix it up.”
Your perfect day?
“Well it would have to be summer – I hate the cold. So after a bit of a sleep in, an early morning swim with my husband, Brett, and the girls would be wonderful.
Then takeaway breakfast at the park so they can run around (so we don’t have to rush if someone starts misbehaving at a café!)
After that a bit more fun with the girls, maybe a trip to the zoo or somewhere else they love…so I don’t feel guilty when I escape with Brett to enjoy a long lunch – a gorgeous, fresh seafood platter, some lovely wine and lots of laughs.”
What are your favourite staple clothing pieces?
“I am totally guilty of a mum uniform of jeans and a tee, all day, every day! And grey jumpers – I have too many to admit. I’m loving the Lacoste slip-ons at the moment too – they go with everything and are super comfy, although I will trade them for a leopard print sandal if I’m heading out at night.”
What have you got planned for Minouche in the future?
“In the immediate future I’m looking forward to releasing the Summer range in October – it has a bit of a 70s feel with some gorgeous lace and crochet fabrics, a little bit of gold and a sweet rainbow print.
Ill also have some pieces for baby girls in the summer collection, which I’m looking forward to, with some boys pieces to be added in the not too distant future.
Moving forward I just want to keep learning, and most importantly have a lot of fun along the way!”
Where can people buy your goodies?
“I sell direct from my website (www.minouche.com.au) and am in discussions with a few stores as well, so stay tuned!”
For more goodness, you can also follow Minouche on Instagram – @hellominouche.