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Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Laura Egloff on Motherhood and the Velveteen Universe




We recently had a chat with a longtime friend, Laura Egloff of Velveteen Clothing. We have watched her grow her internationally recognized brand from the beginning and are always so inspired by her life, family and work ethics.

{Q} You are originally from California but are based in Hong Kong.  How did this come about? 

{A} I believe that opportunities arise for a reason and you should never pass up even the biggest and most intimidating ones. The opportunity to move to London came to me very quickly and at a time when I was enjoying a carefree life in Southern California but feeling a bit uninspired. I jumped at the chance and really never looked back.  

After settling into London, the next opportunity came for me to spend a 6 month assignment in Hong Kong. Again, I jumped at the chance and fully planned to return to London at the end of my secondment. During those first few weeks, I met my future husband and the rest is history.

{Q} What was the biggest cultural differance and how has traveling the world given you inspiration, perspective, and gratitude for the opportunity you have?

{A} Moving to London was probably the more difficult adjustment for me. Most of my work colleagues were British and had their own ingrained social networks so it took some time before I felt like I belonged. Coming from a very casual California lifestyle also meant I had to adjust to the colder climate and very different way of life. Of course, I absolutely fell in love with everything London has to offer and I still miss it to this day. 

After making that first big adjustment, my move to Hong Kong was surprisingly easy. This city is full of expats from all over the world and I had a strong network of friends from London to help with the transition.

{Q} Let’s talk about Lee Gardens. It is a huge step from selling online to actually opening a brick and mortar store! What is your vision for this and are there any more stores in the works.

{A} It is a huge step! Why didn’t anyone tell me that before I did it?!  The goal of opening our first store had been in the works for a while, it was just the timing and location that came as a surprise. Opening the Lee Gardens store was another example of my grabbing an unexpected opportunity and not looking back. We had to move so quickly that I didn’t really have time to sit and consider the complexity of what we were doing…we just did it. It wasn’t until recently that I’ve had the time to look around and feel humbled by what we’ve achieved.

My vision for Velveteen is so much more than “just” a children’s fashion brand and, as a creative person who wants to put forward the best expression of the Velveteen universe, a brick and mortar store is still the best medium for me to communicate our culture and our passion and to invite our tiny customers to experience it and tell us what they think. We have a few more store openings planned for the next 12 months around the world so I’m both thrilled with these opportunities and slightly concerned with the inevitable lack of sleep that awaits.

{Q} In the store you offer a lot of hands-on workshops and events. How can your fans find out about your events and workshops? What was it so important for you to expand the shopping experience from just buying to actually hands-on activities?

We post the workshop schedule on our facebook each week and customers can go onto our website to sign up as well. The workshops are an integral part of our brand for many reasons – first and foremost, we are a children’s brand that is dedicated to doing our part to make every child feel valued and give them a safe space to express and find themselves. Secondly, I believe strongy in the Montessori education method and want to create spaces that are built for children and where they are invited to interact and express themselves. Lastly, but very importantly, the workshops allow us to teach children about the art of creativity and the importance of minimizing waste. 

{Q} You have worked on a few collaborations including your adorable fabric dolls! How did this idea come about and are there any future collaborations you can talk to us about?

{A} Collaborations are so much fun and I have a long wishlist of talented people and brands with whom I would love to work! Our fabric dolls were a collaboration with Minina Loves as a way of utilizing our scrap fabrics to make something beautiful and fun while also being environmentally mindful. We’re also really excited about our growing collaboration to produce shoes and accessories which will be announced early next year. 

{Q} You are big on not wasting, and often use leftover fabric for in-store crafts. Recently you launched necklaces and bow clips in coordinating season fabrics. We love this! Why is it so important to be conscious of our “waste” and to recycle?

{A} As a parent I know how important it is to lead by example and instill simple, regular, practices in your children’s routines. As a fashion designer, it’s impossible to be involved in this industry and not be aware of how damaging it is to the environment when left unchecked. I strongly believe that fashion can and should make a difference and that is really at the heart of Velveteen’s focus on sustainability. I believe that fashion can change people’s lives and I also believe it must lead by example. Putting practices in place as part of our standard operating procedures to minimise waste and extend our products’ lifecycle is really just the base minimun that we need to be doing.

{Q} How does this carry into your own life with your kids?

{A} Since I was a teenager, I’ve been armed with a set of sharp scissors and a desire to customise my clothes. This obsession has now been inflicted upon my children. We make our garments to last and to remain fashion forward as trends shift so my children’s wardrobes are in a constant state of being recycled and reinvented. Long sleeve shirts become short sleeve shirts, which become tank tops and maxi dresses evolve into mini dresses before they become tunics and ultimately tops. 

They make fun of me for it but they also like that I can give their favourite pieces a new life.

{Q} We see that you have started to put some toys online in your shop. Is this an indicator that you will be carrying more brands as well? What can we look forward to seeing from you in the next year or so?

{A} Yes, this is an offshoot of having the retail stores and wanting to curate an experience for our shoppers that exposes them to the talented brands that I’ve been fortunate enough to discover through Velveteen. Our customers are looking to discover new products that are made with care and thoughtfulness and I love being able to give these brands a place to be discovered.

2C0A5983{Q} You have two children, how have you balanced life as a designer and mum? How has it challenged you and how have you made adjustments to make it work (asking for a friend, we are still working on this 😉 ).

{A} How do you turn water into wine? (Asking for friend) 😉

I love and hate this question. I love it because I’m honoured that people care about my opinion and I hate it because I know that successful men are never asked this question. That said, I don’t think I’m doing it all well, always. I think I have days when I am being a better fashion designer than I am mother, or better business woman than fashion designer and some days when I’m a much better mother than I am wife or designer and I honestly believe that is the “trick” for me. 

Be strong and comfortable in who you are and also in who you just don’t have the strength to be today. Being honest with yourself and your family about your limits and strengths allows them to support you rather than feel like they’re being neglected. And then there’s the age old Hindu wisdom of just being present in whatever you are doing at that moment. Put your phone away when you’re with your kids. Put your kids away when you’re with your phone…or something like that   And the best tip of all – don’t take yourself too seriously! 

{Q} Your children have seen you from the early stages of starting Velveteen to where you are now. Does either of your kids ever help you with designing? 

{A} They certainly help me with critiquing my designs, if that’s the same thing? My daughter is really developing her inner artist and will sit next to me and sketch or paint while I work although her sense of colour harmony is in early stages and still slightly limited to shades of pink and purple. Both of my children have educated me on what works for them – what makes them feel good about themselves and what they feel good wearing. This is the most valuable input a children’s fashion designer can receive. 

{Q} What has been your biggest – I have made it – moment?

{A} Firstly, you should know that I am tough as nails and an absolute sap all in one. I’ve taken many of our biggest milestones in stoic stride simply because I was so focused on delivering a great collection that I didn’t have time to get emotional about what we had achieved. I still tear up every season when our collections go down the runway at Pitti Bimbo but the most notable ‘I have made it’ moment was when we sat in the Lee Gardens mall at midnight the night before the store opened and watched the boarding come down piece by piece. Three of us had worked day and night over a long holiday weekend to finish the store and we were exhausted, hungry and dusty. We just sat there as the light of the store started to shine through the holes in the boarding and held back tears. I still tear up thinking about it…

{Q} Let’s talk about your office atmosphere… You like to keep it fun. 

{A} I do not. That is a rumour.

{Q} What artist (music) would you say you constantly have going in your office that helps to set the tone for the day?

{A} I really cannot live in an environment without music – it feels like you’re working in a library – and my taste in music is very eclectic. I enjoy blasting Justin Bieber and Beyonce if people are taking themselves too seriously but I also believe that 90s hip hop and 80s girl band revivial mixes are an absolute must for all occasions. There are very few creative challenges that Tribe Called Quest, Wu Tang Clan, Ice Cube, Missy Elliot and the Spice Girls cannot solve. I also force my children to do the Macarena with me at home and I might start using this in the office as a punishment for anyone who leaves dirty coffee cups in the sink. 

It’s time for 4 quick answers :

Coffee or Tea? – Coffee

Morning or Night? – Night

Vacation or Staycation? – Holiday 

Black or white? Black

Thank you Laura for being you! We look forward to seeing more of your Velveteen universe in 2019!


Learn more here: Velveteen Website | Instagram | Facebook

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