How did you come up with the idea for Little Goodall?
I was frustrated because the only things I could find for my toddler son were miniature versions of men’s clothes, or things with cartoon characters and words on them. I longed to dress him in something that would reflect the playful and imaginative aspects of being a child, but also something tactile and beautiful. When his pediatrician advised us to find some way to keep his ears covered in the cold (he refused to wear hoods or hats) I had a eureka moment – if his coat was fun to wear, like a costume, wouldn’t he want to put it on? When I found yellow wool felt at a fabric store the idea of a lion occurred to me, and I altered some sewing patterns to suit my purpose. The result worked – he loved being a lion and wanted to wear his coat all the time! From the lion we added a fox and a dinosaur, and our clothing menagerie has been growing ever since.
You clearly have a great eye for design, where do you get inspiration for your coats and clothing?
My inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere – pop culture, art, travel, and fabrics and materials. I also love children’s books and their illustrations – both classic and modern – so they inform almost every collection.
How did you decide to launch your own business, and any key lessons learned that you can share about being a entrepreneur in the retail industry?
I joke that I launched a business by accident. I really had no idea it would go anywhere. I was a stay-at-home mom with an Etsy shop that just kept growing. Every year there are new challenges and new opportunities and new problems, and I try to tackle each one step at a time with an open mind. If you are unsure of how to do something, ask for help, and repay it with help and information to those who also need it. The tribe you build will be the thing that saves you in a pinch, and there is room at the table for all of us. Be a voracious questioner! Baby steps will take you a long way, but you’ve got to put one foot in front of the other to keep from getting stuck. Every day retail is being redefined so it’s extremely important to think outside the box and share successes and failures with other mamas in the same space.
Your designs are very creative while being quite classic as well, what new items have you added to your collection this year?
We have so many new styles for Autumn/Winter 18! I’m in love with our new collaboration with the artist known as Willa Heart, she paints whimsical chinoiserie-style animals, and we have made them into large scale embroideries on coats with linings to match. We have a sweet “Te Amo Elephants” coat that’s darling on girls or boys, and some softly tailored alpaca and wool blend dress coats for girls that are quite special.
Do you see any major trends in the childrenswear industry for 2018?
I am definitely seeing more color. We’ve had a few years of graphic black and white and neutrals in the childrens’ market, and it seems like color and texture are exploding all over right now. Thanks to the burgeoning British Royal Family there’s a lot of love for classic silhouettes and traditional children’s clothing, as well as English fabrics like wool wovens, knits, and Liberty London prints. I only see that trend growing in the next few years, especially since we have an American sharing the palace now! Also, special dressing for celebrations and milestones, because the pictures are going to be around forever so why not upgrade that basic t-shirt and pair of shorts to a party dress or pressed romper?
How many kids do you have and what town do you reside in?
My son Carter is now 9, he used to model everything for me and I’m so sad that he has outgrown it! I’m also an only child with a creative mama, my mom used to take me to her college art courses before I was old enough for school. We live in McKinney, Texas, which is a suburb north of Dallas.
What are your favorite spots to visit in your hometown?
I feel like I have three hometowns. I grew up in Durham, NC, then moved to New York for college and the years after, and then to Texas for the past 15 years. I’m not often in Durham but still spend several happy weeks a year in NY.
In McKinney, we have a historic downtown square which is the heart of our community. My favorite weekday lunch spot is a sandwich shop there called Patina Green that makes amazing grilled ham sandwiches with sweet pepper jelly. My son and I like to have lunch at Patina, and then walk to the library where I work and he reads.
In NYC my neighborhood was Union Square, and while many of my favorite haunts have closed in the past few years, a perfect day on recent trips includes an hour or so exploring at ABC Carpet and Home, choosing something special for my son at Books of Wonder, and buying a new sketchbook at Paper Presentation. Also there’s a little place called The Malibu Diner on 23rd street that has the best French toast in the world, I always have to have some!
Our motto at The Local Moms Network, is “giving moms the gift of time.” Do you have any time saving tips or tricks that you’d be willing to share?
The summer when my son was 5 I was offered a contract to write a book, Wild Things to Sew and Wear. It was an opportunity I couldn’t miss, but you’ve only got one summer with your five-year-old and I couldn’t miss that either. I was a full-time mom with a full-time clothing brand and no childcare, and my husband worked outside the home. My best hack was shifting my schedule so I went to bed at 8:00 pm when my son went to bed, then waking up at 4:00 am each day to work on the book until my son got up around 9:00 am. I enrolled him at as many fun camps I could find, but camps for 5 year olds are only about 3 hours long, so I’d set up office at the Starbucks closest to the camp and had fabric vendors meet me there like it was my office. We enrolled in weekday group swim lessons at our city pool at 5:30, so an after-pool shower took care of bath time, daddy had a simple dinner waiting at home afterwards, and we all fell asleep exhausted at 8:00 pm. I wouldn’t want to do it again, but the book was finished on time and we have some great memories of that summer!
What are your favorite things to do for yourself?
Going to a movie matinee alone feels so luxurious, especially if you have an Angelika Film Center or arthouse cinema nearby. I also love to eat lunch at the Mermaid Bar at Neiman Marcus at Northpark in Dallas. It’s casual but the people watching is fantastic (and so is the tortilla soup!). On a simpler note, every evening in the summer I take a walk by myself in the neighborhood when it begins to cool down. I have my best ideas when I’m walking or driving, and it keeps me sane when there are a lot of projects that have to come together at once.
What is a recent book that you read and loved?
Right now I’m reading and loving both Pamela Druckerman’s new book There Are No Grown-ups, and also The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. They are polar opposites but both great summer reads, and The Little Stranger is coming out as a movie later this year.
One thing people would be surprised to know about you.
I was the only student in my graduating class at Parsons with a specific focus on children’s clothing. My entire thesis was on kids!
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