Conversations with Designers, Little Style

DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT :: A Conversation with The Little Hummingbird

It’s been a while since we had a Designer Spotlight on Oaxacaborn! The conversations in this series are intended to inspire and encourage, and allow all of us to glean a little wisdom from fellow creatives and small businesses owners.

Today, I’m chatting with Olivia Lin and Archna Patel, who together run the childrenswear brand the little hummingbird.

sophie hoodie in pink by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird
mae top, brooklyn pant by the little hummingbird as seen in an interview with designer Olivia Lin on Oaxacaborn

Walk me through your creative process — I guess you could call this the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. Do you have a finished product in mind from the start, and then execute a series of steps to achieve this? Or do the ideas evolve and take life as you go through the creative process?
We think it can be a little bit of both!

Sometimes we have a finished product in mind; our poncho from the Fall ’12 collection and the pointelle cardigan from Spring ’13 are both examples of this. Other times, it is an evolution of ideas starting with a piece of trim, style detail, or theme we both like and are inspired by. Because we are a duo, we communicate and bounce ideas off of one another a lot, and try to make sure we are merging and using ideas each of us has.

When it is an evolution, it is definitely exciting seeing an idea come to life! (I think that is how we feel each time we complete a photoshoot and see a collection come to fruition!) For our current Spring ’13 line, we knew we wanted to incorporate pintucks into our designs but didn’t have the finished product in mind yet. We started by sketching as many different ideas as possible– which is the fun creative part! From there, we edit, share our sketches with each other, edit some more, then we finalize which styles we should go forward with and have in our collection.

stella dress by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird's designer

At one time or another, all creatives experience that “hitting a brick wall” feeling, where the ideas just stop. How do you deal with creative slumps and roadblocks?
We hate it when that happens! We deal with it by taking a break and focusing on doing something else such as reading, baking, or cooking. Putting some music on and surfing the web or flipping through magazines — we both are inspired by clothing for women — can give us a fresh perspective as well. Another thing we like to do is look back at old photos of ourselves and siblings when we were kids, and modernizing the pieces we used to wear.

hazel sweater, ava top by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird's designer

So is it safe to say you’re more influenced by the idea of reinterpreting vintage rather than keeping up with latest trends?
One of the things we wanted to do when creating the little hummingbird line was to create pieces that are timeless and can be passed down through the generations. We don’t really follow trends– we try to stick to the beat of our own drum and be true to our style and design aesthetics.

ida top, kaity skirt by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird

From a business perspective, what does collaboration look like for The Little Hummingbird? How do you decide which roles each of you takes on?
We both do a little bit of everything for the little hummingbird and try to make sure we are being fair and the workload is equal. The way we decide which roles we each take on is a combination of a few things. Which method is the most efficient? Is one of us is more skilled in that area? What’s the timing and priority? Who is available? And sometimes it just comes to logistics, like which one of us has a shorter drive to save time and gas! I think the big key to our collaboration is honesty and lots of communication. You should see how many emails and texts we exchange in a day!

amelia dress by the little hummingbird as seen on oaxacaborn's interview with the little hummingbird
What is the most challenging thing you have faced in your creative career?
The most challenging things we have faced have been the funding as well as marketing — getting the little hummingbird to a place where it is a known and trusted brand.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to fellow creatives?
We would say to give your dreams and goals a chance, follow through, and don’t give up! It is not easy and you have to be able to handle rejection, but believe in yourself! Be fearless, open to making mistakes and learning — ask questions and try to stay organized and remember to have fun and enjoy the journey :)

Thank you so much, Olivia and Archna!

The Little Hummingbird | on Twitter | on Facebook | on Pinterest


Previously on Designer Spotlight:

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Conversations with Designers

DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT :: A Conversation with Minor Edition

If you’re a creative individual, there’s a temptation to imagine other creatives relaxing on Eames chairs in spacious studios  — while you work late into the night at your kitchen table.  Of course, this perception is far from reality. In this week’s installment of Conversations with Designers, Ipshita Chatterjee of Minor Edition keeps it real with talk of chaos, balance, and how she turns roadblocks into inspiration.

Sneak Peek of Minor Edition Spring 2013 - and Conversation with the Designer about the Creative ProcessImage Credit: Minor Edition SS12

Walk me through your creative process — I guess you could call this the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. Do you have a finished product in mind from the start, and then execute a series of steps to achieve this? Or do the ideas evolve and take life as you go through the creative process?
The entire design process evolves very slowly. I have a sketchpad (and lots of papers everywhere) where I sketch designs, as and when I’m inspired. They are usually quite messy with a thousand tiny ideas scribbled alongside. When I sit down to actually create a collection, it starts with a theme. I re-visit those sketches with the eye of a critique, and source the fabric samples in various colours. I sew a dummy of the dresses and try them on my (now five year old) daughter. Her feedback is very important to me. The final designs come to life in due course.

At one time or another, all creatives experience that “hitting a brick wall” feeling, where the ideas just stop. How do you deal with creative slumps and roadblocks?
I love creative slumps and roadblocks as long as there is no next minute deadline. They are a very good opportunity to take a break, whether it is just a long walk or a day off, it allows me to think things over and return recharged. Last week, I spent one day crocheting a scarf, tidying up and meeting a friend for coffee. This cleared my head and helped me with a few decisions the next day.

Let’s talk trends. How do trends impact your design experience?
Trends did not impact much in the current collection. They were inspired from my own childhood and the dresses my mum made for me. Minor Edition was born out of the need to provide something unique and different in terms of colour and design.

Minor Edition’s headquarters are your kitchen table and your studio/your daughter’s playroom. How do you maintain a sense of balance?
Life is a bit chaotic and I wonder if there is a sense of balance. In theory I am very organised and compartmentalised. In reality, I am in one hand, answering the phone while shoving the toys in one corner with my other hand, completely for health and safety reasons. I do make sure that I clean the kitchen the night before and put away breakfast bowls before the school drop off. My studio doubles up as a playroom and it works quite well. Luckily, I have managed to convince my daughter not to touch them. She has her own little stash of pink and dotty fabrics to play with, if I work when she’s around. Working late at night is a regular thing for me. Glad I love what I do.

What does collaboration look like for Minor Edition? What path does the fabric take on its journey to become a finished garment, and how many people are involved?
Minor Edition collaborates with two other ladies who are based overseas. They are mums of little girls themselves and share my passion of pretty dresses for little girls. These two lovely ladies run their own companies employing a few people and in their own workshop. They are the people behind the scene who translate my design into pretty little dresses.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to fellow creatives?
Enjoy what you do and work really hard.

Minor Edition | on Twitter | on Facebook

Conversations with Designers, Little Style

DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT :: A Conversation with Lithuanian Childrenswear Designer Mummymoon

It’s time for another installment of Conversations with Designers! My aim with this series is to inspire and encourage fellow creatives — and either introduce you to talented people you might not have otherwise met, or help you get to know your favorite creatives even better.

Today, we’re talking to Ieva from the gorgeous brand Mummymoon about the clothing business she runs alongside Vėjūne. Ieva lets us take a peek at her creative process, and shares how she’s influenced by her children, the country of Lithuania, and trends — or the lack thereof.

Wool Pocket Pants from Lithuanian brand Mummymoon as seen on Oaxacaborn dot com

Welcome, Ieva! Let’s talk about your clothing brand. What prompted you to start Mummymoon?
Boredom. I am very active in nature, I have to be busy 12 hours a day – it makes me feel complete. After I had my first baby, when I got used to being a mother, I came to realize that I struggle with just being at home all the time. As she got older, I found it difficult just being at home or playing outside with my daughter. I started to express myself here. I always wondered what I would do when my children get older. Maybe back to making films, or interior designing or even photography? But it happened, when another life was growing inside me, I felt a desire to start sewing and making clothes for little people. It was only one example of this kind of business in Lithuania at the time – MUKU, so it was hard to imagine it will grow into something big one day. It was more like a hobby for me, a way to express myself. However, looking back now, we have our distributors and agent in Korea, Japan, have a little shop in the capital of Lithuania – Vilnius. We have teamed up with other 6 designers and opened a YéYé store in Paris. So I can firmly say – don’t be afraid to dream as dreams come true!
Nuobodulys. Esu begalo veikli, turiu buti uzimta aper diena 12 val. ir tik tada jausiu pilnatve. Kai atsirado pirmas vaikas, kai apsipratau su motinos role ir supratau, kad paagus dukrai man darosi anksta buti vien tik namuos ir lauke kartu su vaiku – emiausi realizuoti save cia. Iki to laiko masciau, kur eisiu, kai vaikai paaugs. Ar atgal prie kino, ar prie interjeru, ar..fotografija? Bet taip nutiko, kad pastojus ir pradejus glausti pilvelyje antraji vaikuti Rapola – mane kazko pradejo traukti siuvimas ir mazuju rubeliu kurimas. Lietuvoje tokio verslo pavyzdziu buvo tik vienas – MUKU, tad buvo ganetinai nedrasu svajoti apie kazka daugiau, nei hobis. Bet siuo metu mes turime distributorius Korejoje bei Japonijoje, turim parduotuvele Lietuvos sostineje Vilniuje, bei kartu su 6 dizaineriais ikureme Paryziuje YéYé store. Tad…reziumuoti galiu drasiai, kad svajoti reikia! Svajones pildosi!
Wool Blouse with buttons, as seen on Oaxacaborn dot com's interview with Mummymoon's designerWalk me through your creative process — I guess you could call this the “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. Do you have a finished product in mind from the start, and then execute a series of steps to achieve this? Or do the ideas evolve and take life as you go through the creative process?
Sometimes the egg comes first, sometimes the chicken. Creation is like life, it falls into how you live the time. Our creative process is based on our children’s moods or if we simply have time to create or not. It might not sound very interesting but you would not like to hear a fake, made up story, would you?
You can never know how one or the other item of clothing, a detail, a shade will come into life. I always sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper when I get a chance. The desire to create…it is always there, it never goes away. Sometimes I get angry with myself for not making more time for this but I want to give myself to my children first and then to other part of my life – mummymoon.
Kartais nuo kiausinio, kartais nuo vistos. Kuryba kaip ir gyvenimas. Kiekvieno susidelioja taip, kaip pats gyveni. Musu gi – viskas pagal vaiku nuotaika. Yra ar nera laiko. Skamba labai neidomiai, bet ar jus norit pagrazintos istorijos?:)
Niekada negali zinoti, kaip atsiras vienas ar kitas rubas. Viena ar kita detale. Vienas ar kitas pustonis. Sedu prie popieriaus ir piestuko kai tik yra tam laiko. O noro…jo yra visada, jis niekur nedingsta, kartais pykstu ant saves, kad nepasidarau jo daugiau, bet norisi atsiduoti vaikams, o tik tada savo gyvenimo kitai pusei – mummymoon. Continue reading “DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT :: A Conversation with Lithuanian Childrenswear Designer Mummymoon”