March 29, 2017
#GathreGood with Emily McMaster of Mabo Kids
Emily McMaster is the chief hustler behind lovely children's clothier Mabo Kids. Her aesthetic and taste have made @mabokids as well-made as they are well-known by the greats in the industry. We can attest that Mabo's clothing is exquisite in quality and design which comes as no surprise since Emily is creative, legitimate, and down-to-earth. We are all waiting on the edge of our seats for Mabo to open up their retail store in the coming months. And as if that isn't enough on Emily's plate, she and her husband are opening up a pizzeria! The world could use more families like that:) so bravo to you guys and thanks again Emily for sharing us your biz savvy and wisdom with us! xo
Get Emily's Ginger Midi here
-Tell us a background story about how and why MABO got started?
It's a fairly typical story, I think! When my first daughter, Ruby, was turned one, we were living in NY and I had just quit my dream job in film (I have a MA in Cinema Studies and worked in the film industry for a number of years after). I had found it really difficult to juggle that work situation with my impulse to spend time with my baby, but after a short amount of time home, I really realized that I needed to work in some capacity. I had been sewing clothes for Ruby and had just been loving the creative outlet of designing things for her and it occurred to me that I might enjoy doing it for a living. I played around with the idea of it and then after my second daughter, Mabel was born, and then we moved to Utah to be closer to family and the mountains, I decided to make a go of it - found a factory and designed the first collection!
-What is your biggest source of inspiration behind your work?
At first it was definitely the clothing from my childhood that my mom had saved for me and pulled out when I had my little girls. She didn't have a ton of money, but it was a combination of inexpensive things that back then were of such higher quality, and special pieces that she saved up to buy and then held onto as a memento of my childhood. I'm also inspired by old movies and photos, the fabrics themselves, and very much by my own growing kids and what they love to wear and I think looks special on them. I also feel very strongly that people who might not have the money to buy expensive clothes for their kids should still be able to buy things that are made ethically, well, and with nice fabrics, so I always keep that in mind when designing styles - keeping things simple and affordable to produce well.
-What do you think has been one key to your success?
I'm still figuring things out! But I do think that my absolute love of this job and the lifestyle has helped me weather some of the more frustrating times. I look back now and realize that even when my business wasn't really profitable, I don't even think I was aware of it because I was just so happy to be doing it! I work a lot harder than I did at any other job I've had, but I truly don't mind doing it like I did some of those because I think I'm very well-suited to this - I love the creative elements as well as some of the mundane bits. I've also never been afraid to reveal what I don't know or ask for help. I don't have really any experience in the fashion world or even retail, and I'm not a great faker, so have had to learn everything from patternmaking to production to web development - and every step of the way people have been so happy to educate me when asked, which has been hugely helpful.
-What are some big hurdles you've overcome or a triumph you're most proud of?
Every season is a triumph! The relief when everything comes in looking how I want it to look and we're able to get it to the retailers and up on the website (and then I'm able to pay the bill for it!), is the most gratifying feeling ever! It's a total emotional rollercoaster twice a year, so I'm always super proud when I'm on the upside of that ride.
-We had to ask it:)... What's been helpful for you as you try to balance nurturing your two sweet girls and your work life?
A super involved and supportive husband is the biggest help! The four of us spend a LOT of time together, so we're all pretty in tune with the rhythm of the house and when one of us is busy the other is able to pick up the slack. What's also helpful for me is accepting help and also accepting that I'm just going to suck at some things. Spending time with my family and my business are my two top priorities, and I can accept that I'm doing a decent job with those while simultaneously doing a terrible job of keeping my house clean (truly - people say this, but I MEAN it) and cooking ANY meals. I do beat myself up about it sometimes, so then I do my best to try to drum up some help in those areas, even if it means budgeting for them.
-What can you gather and gather and gather and still never have enough of?
Baskets? That yes, and also friends. I'm really inspired and filled up by social interaction and because my job can be a bit solitary, I often can't get enough of lunches and coffee dates with friends.
-Do you have any tips for those just starting up? Or any advice you could offer the rest of us that you wish you had known earlier on?
Oh boy, I don't - besides just to ask questions and be willing to learn. As I said before, I don't feel like it's been hard because it's been so much fun, so maybe just to enjoy it? I don't have any delusions that the world is really desperate for exactly what I do, so I feel so very lucky to be doing it - even when cash flow and production glitches and delays totally stress me out. Ultimately it's just children's clothing.
Also, I've only recently learned that I need to step back sometimes from the day-to-day parts of the job to regain inspiration because it does get to be a little more dialed in and comfortable than it used to be, and I still need those passionate moments of hunger and creative inspiration that drove me to start the business and that come when I'm least expecting it. So even if there's a lot of emails to return or photos to edit, I'm teaching myself that it's just as valuable to go hit a movie, grab a drink with a friend, listen to a podcast, or even just go wander around as it is to do those.
-Nothing is better than hearing people talk about their dreams. What's your biggest dream/hope/wish?
Oh I think just for my business to keep plugging along and growing at an organic pace and for my family life to stay as lovely as it is at this moment. I guess I'd like to travel more with the kids during this crazy special time when they still want to be with us, as well as spend time with extended family here in Utah. I'm opening a retail location in a couple of months and my husband is opening a pizzeria, so hopefully this new chapter will be as good as the one we've been in!