Let’s face it, for the most part, when you think of the maternity clothes that you find in all good department stores, you think lots of ruching, conspicuous flaps and “Thank God I only have to wear this for a few months,” retiring them to the back of the closet to deal with later. Or, you find something you love, pin it to your Pinterest board, and realise that you have to cash out that trust fund you started for you new arrival, in order to fill your wardrobe.
So, when we happened upon La Mère Clothing - “Stylish, affordable, comfortable clothing for Women, that celebrates our beautiful evolving bodies,” we thought, she has nailed it (La Mère was made for moms. Created by a mom...high five!). La Mère founder and chief designer, Marlena Wilding, is giving women more than just pretty and functional clothing, she is dedicated to helping women embrace their physical transformation into motherhood, from pregnancy, nursing and even the months (and years) ahead whilst our bodies continue to transform.
We were so excited to get a chance to speak with Marlena because we thought she was fulfilling two elemental needs in particular, Choosing Kindness and Passion, and we wanted to learn more about just how she was doing it.
We know when we are passionate about an interest of ours when our minds light up with alert curiosity. The topic of our fascination might be cars, cooking, or the galaxies in the night sky. Whatever the subject, it is special because it captivates us. We want to learn more, to get lost in the details, and enjoy the feeling of focus that the topic inspires in us. Yet how often is that captivation allowed to pass along? How often do we give ourselves that chance to truly engage with our interests?
In Marlena’s example, she has not only engaged with her passion by creating a business around it, she has also connected her interests to the wellbeing of other mothers. This is an added bonus. To be kind is an act of elevation. We are helping another, yet we are also lifted, momentarily, out of our own challenges. With kindness, we become temporarily connected to another; we learn that the borders between ourselves and others are not fixed, and that no one need be alone in their struggles.
Can you tell us the defining moment that prompted you to start this business, and what were the first things you did to start creating your brand?
It happened when I first realized the struggles we mothers go through with the rapid changing of our bodies. I did not want to buy a wardrobe for pregnancy and for nursing that I would stow away until I was pregnant and nursing again. I feel we women should have one wardrobe to meet all of our needs and to learn to embrace the changes as something necessary and beautiful. The first thing I did was buy a business license and borrow my friends sewing machine to come up with designs. I also researched what was already out there and how I could improve upon it in my way. I remember staying up with my sleeping five month old in my arms whilst I researched.
How did creating your brand and seeing the mini milestones you met along the way from concept to selling, feel for you?
It was amazing to realize how easy it was for me. And I love almost every aspect of it. I That is, when I knew I was doing something I was truly passionate about. I used to be a teacher, and though I loved aspects of it, it didn't come as easy for me as creating La Mère did.
What is the biggest learning curve you’ve had with starting your own business?
Though there were aspects that came naturally, I had a tonne to learn. I’m very grateful to my husband, because he is the more logical one. I, on the other hand am full on creative. And so there were some things that I didn't consider. For instance, some of the colors were not correct. We also did not anticipate the amount of orders in the beginning. It might seem like that would be a good thing, and it was nice to have that, but it is important to have the tools to be able to continue to grow after.
How does it make you feel when you get positive feedback from a purchaser or supporter?
It means so much! It helps me to keep going. Being a working mom is no easy task. And when others appreciate what you’ve chosen to do really helps. We put so much into the quality of the fabrics and to the design...it is so nice when others can see it. And, I also do appreciate the constructive feedback because I also want to improve on my designs and the business.
What have you learned from the women you are helping, by not only providing beautifully designed maternity and nursing clothing, but also a positive way to celebrate and embrace their changing bodies?
I have learned how amazing us moms are. And that there are many who feel similar to the way I do when it comes to all the frustrations and beauty of breastfeeding and the changing of our bodies. We often are so hard on our bodies, but I think we should learn to better love our stretch marks; we earned those stripes.
Before we ended our conversation we asked Marlena to share some of her own Manifesto with us - if she could share one piece of wisdom with other Mamas, what would it be?
If you have a dream, just do it. As moms we often put ourselves on the back burner and the best thing I have been able to do for myself and my family is to learn how to feed my passions and talents. Because my family knows if mom is happy everyone, for the most part ( because toddlers!), is happy. I am able to be a better mom and wife by taking care of my needs.
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In the meantime, follow the La Mère journey at the links below. We know we will be!