Life with kids in St George
We chat to Aiying Law about her new venture; the fabulous kids fashion label, ALFABERRY.
I have 2 children: Annabel who is 10 and Alex who is 6. We now live in Sydney after being in London for the past 12 years.
I graduated out of law School at UNSW in Sydney. And started my career in management consulting, working in large corporates both in Sydney and London. Most recently in London, I worked within the digital teams - digital transformation and eCommerce. Creating brand and user experiences is what gets me really excited. Since being in fashion in the past year preparing for the launch of alfaberry, I have learnt SO MUCH about fashion - as a naturally curious person, I wanted to find out about everything! The types of fabrics, how things are made, why you would do something like this instead of that, the design process, the testing process... It's a highly creative yet technical industry.
I started alfaberry for a number of different reasons. First and foremost, when we moved from London to Sydney, I couldn't find great quality clothing that is wearable and well priced for my daughter who was 8 and my son who was 4 at the time. For the older kids, especially girls, things were either designed for little kids and made larger, or designed for grown ups and made smaller. And whilst there are some great places to shop, there wasn't one place that I can consistently go to for BOTH my children. I wanted to create a brand that can cater for your child's entire wardrobe - that thought has been in my mind for a few months before I started.
And secondly, I've always wanted to create a brand from scratch. I think building a brand is really about understanding people and peeling back the different layers of society. And I'm still learning that now. Everyone says you have your avatar and market towards them, and that is true to start, but everyday I am learning about our customers, who are they? How they found us? What made them purchase? And then how do we continue to make them come back to alfaberry? There is still so much to do and we are adding constantly to the new projects on our roadmap!
And then lastly, which is quite unusually, is that I met the most beautiful manufacturers - actually, we now work with 2 suppliers and they have been making childrenswear for the past decade. I got to know them very well, and over drinks, as it us usually the case, we agreed to start a small project. So while I help them streamline their processes, they help me produce our first collection! It's an awesome working relationship. This means we have control over the design and the quality of every single garment we produce.
Our inspirations - I take inspirations very much from everyday living. As a brand that want to cater to your child's entire wardrobe, I'm always conscious that we need to provide different looks for different occasions. So we want to have some edgy urban looks, some classic pieces, and then some high quality basics. And overlay that with the colours. I love colours!!! And of course we love greens!! haha.
When it comes to childrenswear, I always approach it from a functionality point of view - that's the mother in me. Questions like - can we wash this? Is it easy to wear? Can the child get dressed on their own? Does it cater for different shapes and sizes? Can they play in it, is it easy for them to move? Can they go to a dinner party, and still run around afterwards? If they wear this to a picnic and still look stylish in it? And over all of these functional questions, we then add the design, the shape, the silhouette and fabric. For the first collection, we collaborated with a stylist who has years of experience in fashion and it really shows through our debut collection.
My ultimate vision is to collaborate with artists, designers and style icons in the industry so that we can bring fresh and exciting designs every season. But those designs have to meet our test of comfort and function first. And that's not an easy test :)
Sydney is a gorgeous city and we are rediscovering it again with the children:
1. Locally in our area, we can't get over how amazing the parks and beach walks are. We love Sunday morning brunch followed by a walk along the Ramsgate/Dolls Point beach. Our children love their bikes, so we often take them down for a ride along that stretch all the way past Brighton Le Sands. If it's a windy day, we love taking our kites along. It's a really great way to spend a couple of hours.
2. One of the things we LOVE about any city is all the festivals and events. I have been so busy lately, that we didn't go to as many as we like, but we often keep an eye out for local events. We absolutely love the Sculptures by the Sea - not only the gorgeous setting, but also the different installations and artwork, Newtown Festival, local markets and evening markets. I think children love night markets because it gives them that extra sense of adventure. And having street food out is something we all love!
3. Shows and theatres - I am trying to take my children to more theatre shows and plays. When we were in London, we attended a lot of shows - music performances, theatres, plays etc because it is all so accessible. I think it is a little harder in Sydney, but they do exist and we've been to a few. Of course we love going to shows in the Opera House, perhaps as much for the drama of going to that beautiful building as it is for the show. We've been to a couple of shows at the Monkey BAA theatre who often have fun kids production. This week we are going to see the Newtown Performing Arts School showcase - I like introducing the children to a variety of performances. It's a wonderful way to show and share a bit of the world with children.
I love cooking from scratch - so my best mum hack has got to be related to food. Recently, I've been making what we call "Chinese Risotto" for weekday meals! A super simple meal that you can make in less than 5 minutes and still tastes absolutely delicious and wholesome :) It needs a rice cooker and hardly any washing up :) You cook your rice in the rice cooker, add your ingredients (marinated mince, fish, prawns with lots of flavours and garlic) when done, and let it steam for another 5-10 mins. Mix. And it's all done! Super delicious and easy!
Another hack? Probably is not a real hack, is that I to get my husband do as much as he can when I'm busy. He works from home at least one day a week so that I can concentrate on work for a normal day, and he can do some of the school run duties. Because I run my businesses around the children, it means that I can only work between 9.30-3pm. And then continue after the children are in bed. So getting your partner to share the load is a good thing :)
Shop online here - gorgeous kids fashion for boys and girls aged 3- 10 years.