With the sole purpose of making mothers feel beautiful with their babies. Katrina founded Maeve + Me to bring high-quality, luxurious and sustainable clothing for mothers and daughter. Katrina felt that there was a lack of products which focused on new mums and as such, built this brand to give them their moment in the spotlight, hand in hand with their little one.
Today we spoke to Katrina about her inspiration behind Maeve + Me, her journey through the entrepreneurial world and of course, little Maeve - the face of the business.
How do you manage juggling between being a businesswoman and a mother?
This is still something I think I am still working out… At the moment Maeve is in childcare part-time, so I am playing the role of mother more than I am businesswoman. But as the business grows and as Maeve gets older this will shift.
When I am with Maeve, I try to be with her and not on my phone all the time, but when I am working, I feel like I am always chasing my tail. However, this flexibility and lifestyle is why I wanted to start my business, so that I can still be around and watch her grow and learn new things. Even though it’s an extremely hard juggling act, I love what I do and wouldn’t have it any other way.
On your website, you mention that it was difficult to make your clothes in London and have them be sustainable. How do you ensure that this happens?
For me, starting in London was the route to take because I knew we could produce high quality garments, I could visit the factory regularly and it would have a lower carbon footprint than international shipping. I wanted to make sure that the factories we work with are not only 100% ethical but that they really care about their people and are completely transparent in their practices.
Sustainability in our collection begins with process of fabric selection. Initially we have to rule 95% of fabrics out because they are either not sustainable or unsuitable for babies. This process can be extremely frustrating however, because ones we rule out are much more easily available and a lot cheaper. These include man made fabrics such as polyester and nylon which are made from petrochemicals and creates greenhouse gases which are 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
We also digitally print our fabrics, which creates less waste than other methods, and all our packaging is either reusable, recycled or made from recycled materials.
In every decision we make we wear our sustainability hat and ensure we are doing our best to tread as lightly as possible.
Does Maeve model for you a lot, how does she cope? (She is precious)
Aww thank you. Yes, Maeve is really the face of the business. She did a little bit of baby modelling before the photoshoots she has done so far for us, but at such a young age, experience doesn’t help just yet. Of course, she plays up and gets bored but the whole behind the scenes team love her and say she is a dream to work with. While 95% of the photos are of her running around the set, playing with toys or eating cheese (thank you Babybels), this freedom and fun gives us that 5% which capture the moment perfectly.
What do you feel was the most challenging element of starting your own business??
I would say the beginning definitely is the most daunting, and that first transition between being home on your laptop researching, and making the very visit to the manufacturer. It feels so daunting and overwhelming. Everyone is an expert in their field and you feel like they’re judging what you’re saying and your business ideas. When in fact, people love that you’re not from the industry. So many people are willing to not only help you, but go above and beyond if they know you’re just starting up. I’ve learnt to not be scared of what you think people will think and to be honest upfront. The generosity of people will surprise you as they love sharing their expertise.
What advice would you give to mothers who are looking to start their own business and a few words that inspire you the most?
To stop thinking, and talking yourself out of it and just take the first step. Once you realise that wasn’t so scary, take another step forward and then only one step at a time keep taking more. You also don’t need to be perfect to start. You don’t need a perfect website, the perfect packaging, the perfect Instagram account or even a business plan. Also do as little work as you can to prove your idea and grow slowly.
There are great crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter which help bring your product to life.
Best words of advice… On a daily basis I remind myself of something Thomas Edison once said ““I haven’t failed - I’ve just found 10,000 that won’t work.”. Also to “Start Now. Get Perfect Later”, which is actually a great book when you’re by Rob Moore.
Here at LeSalon we encourage our team to work together, strive within our valued boundaries and to aim for the best within themselves and our company. What are your values within your team?
I think they are great company values to have and great foundations for any business. As the company is still in its infancy stage the team is just myself and a few freelancers. We all get on really well together and even though the design and development process is so rigorous, everything behind the scenes runs extremely smoothly. Whether they’re a pattern cutter or print designer, I encourage them to make the work their own and they bring not only their expertise but also their personal flare to the products. Everything we produce is down to the amazing teamwork and having the best people in the business working in unison together.
Maeve + Me is still a start-up with a small range. Since this is a luxury brand, do you plan on keeping your ranges small with limited and varied choice, or do you have plans to expand?
Our vision has always been to have full collections, but we wanted to make sure we started small to get the products right, and to be continually be responding to customer feedback. Also, because it is just me behind the brand the growth needs to be organic. We are currently working on our Spring/ Summer range for next year and have added quite a few more items to the collection which we know you will love!
Do you design your own clothes? If so, what is your work process and where do you find the inspiration for creating new collections?
Yes we design everything ourselves. Inspiration is the initial and most integral part of the design process. We look to everything from modern art, to vintage clothing, sustainable culture and travel.
All of our garments are designed in house right here in London, our prints are bespoke, hand painted artworks from which our print designer creates feminine, unique patterns.
All our design work is underpinned with our strong sustainable ethos - Eco-friendly materials pull everything together with a focus on sustainable culture.
As we all know, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Do you think the fashion sector will ever be completely sustainable and how do you think society needs to go about this?
The word “sustainable” is a very complicated… After all what does sustainable really mean? Low impact on the environment, to the animals or to people - and for what duration of time?
No matter what you’re producing it will have some impact on the planet. Either in fertilizers, pesticides, water consumption, printing, manufacturing, transportation even to microfibres that shed in the wash. It’s a big cycle with many factors to think about. I don’t think any industry can be 100% sustainable, but the fashion industry can’t continue how it is currently.
At the moment, fingers are being pointed at the fast fashion industry for not only the environmental impact they have, using cheap and polluting fabrics, but also the stress this puts on their whole supply chain. Churning things out so quickly and the detrimental effect this has on the from the soil, enormous water consumption, to the workers who become ill from the pesticides to the horrendous working conditions in factories. Not to mention that of the more than two tonnes of clothing bought each minute in the UK, the majority of which will end up in land fill.
If the fashion industry continues on it’s current path the impact on the environment and communities will be disastrous. A very good and current read about this is “Fashionopolis” by Dana Thomas.
In summary, sustainability to us simply means treading as lightly as possible and considering our environmental impact at each and every step, and in every decision we make.
This is a very modern, minimalistic and female empowered brand, with a feminine and neutral colour palette (a lot like us at LeSalon). What makes you feel powerfully beautiful??
Wearing our product, being able to walk hand in hand with my daughter wearing garments I feel confident in, knowing that our clothes tell a story and represent such a strong positive and sustainable message.
What are your hopes for Maeve & Me in the next 5 years?
Well I don’t want to give too much away… But we are working on around 8-10 items in our Spring/ Summer collection. The dream has always been to include clothing for the whole family, but we are only taking small steps and making sure we can walk before we run. We design every single aspect of the clothing so a HUGE amount of work goes into each garment. I never want to compromise on the quality of our products and the fit, just to rush getting something to market. We strongly believe in everything we create and want to continue with the 100% positive feedback we have received and the great relationships we have with our customers.