Becoming a mother opens up your life in ways you can never possibly imagine. Take the moment Sarah Stanistreet met Rachael Mahe. The two Sydney-based women met through their mothers’ group and instantly clicked (don’t you just love those friendships?). “We both felt there weren’t many options out there for pieces which were fashion-forward yet easy to style and wear for our little girls and so the idea of launching our boutique label Chloé and Amélie was born,” reflects Stanistreet who spent seven years working for an Australia womenswear line. Armed with a passion for style and design, they spotted a niche for “party to park wear” and named the brand after their toddler daughters...
The new collection features flouncy bows on billowy dresses, polka dot 50’s inspired cotton playsuits and charming vintage-inspired digital prints in lovely linen and lightweight cotton. They’re the kind of clothes that standout for being as charming as they are fashion-forward. “It didn’t take long for me to realise the joy that came from dressing my daughter up in a beautiful outfit,” says Mahe. Indeed, as a mother, there’s nothing more fun than dressing your kids in cute attire (even if they only stay clean for a few minutes…sigh). And there’s also nothing more rewarding than building a business from scratch, while also raising a family. “The decision to launch this label while we had little ones was partly due to our desire to be more in control of our work. We wanted to be our own bosses and work our own hours and we also just said to each other ‘let’s go for it!’ and work hard to create something we love,” says Mahe. We caught up with the design duo to find out more about their childrenswear brand, what keeps them inspired and how they approach the juggle. Go to www.chloeandamelie.com
What has motherhood taught you?
Motherhood has taught us the overwhelming and most beautiful feeling of unconditional love. It has enabled us to re-see the beauty in life through their little encouraging and fascinating eyes. It has taught us patience and built us to be stronger women for our little people.
Talk us through your career path and how you came to launch Chloé and Amélie?
Sarah: Ever since I was a little girl, fashion and style was something I was very into. My favourite piece to wear was a gorgeous white lace couture flower girl dress that apparently my mother could not take off me to wash. In high school, I studied textiles and design. For my HSC, I chose to create a children’s felt 3D story playbook. I’ve always loved children and wanted my own from a very young age. After finishing high school I studied fashion business at FBI Fashion College, and then went on to work for a very successful fashion label for seven years before having my daughter Chloé. I met Rachael in my mothers’ group and our families instantly clicked. We both felt there weren’t many options out there for pieces which were fashion-forward yet easy to style and wear for our little girls, and so the idea of launching our boutique label Chloé and Amélie was born. Rachael: I have more of a business background and most recently worked in human resources for one of the top-tier law firms in Australia. I did, however, get a taste of being part of creating a business from the ground up after working for a startup in San Francisco a few years ago. I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work but hey, I already had one ‘start-up’ project (my daughter Amélie!) so why not start another one. I didn’t know a lot about babies/children before having Amélie, so it was a steep learning curve peppered with challenges and joys. It didn’t take long for me to realise the joy that came from dressing her up in a beautiful outfit.
How did motherhood change your career/were you more or less ambitious after you became mothers?
We have always been very ambitious women who love a challenge. Motherhood has changed our perspective on what’s important – happiness, precious time spent with our children and doing our best to be good role models for them. We probably are now more ambitious, in a sense, to achieve those things wherever possible. The decision to launch this label while we had little ones was partly due to our desire to be more in control of our work. We wanted to be our own bosses and work our own hours and we also just said to each other ‘let’s go for it!’ and work hard to create something we love.
How would you describe your brand Chloé and Amélie?
Chloé and Amélie’s signature, unique style mixes old world charm with a feminine fun twist. Our designs are a little more fashion-forward and appeal to those who seek style. Our easy-wearing pieces bring a sense of occasion every day to the little Chloé and Amélie girl’s wardrobe. On a practical level, we consider three things when designing:
- Dress up/dress down – We saw a niche for ‘party to park wear’. Our pieces are designed to be dressed up for an occasion such as a wedding, a grandma’s birthday or anytime your little girl can wear something a little nicer. Yet for us, pieces must also pass the playground test so they can continue to get wear out of an outfit. Little girls should still be able to run, jump, play and be comfortable.
- Mix and match – Our colour palettes and prints are designed to go back with each other enabling you to create many unique and fun little looks.
- Longevity – Our designs are looser fitting silhouettes so that you get as much use out of each piece as your little one grows. Our dresses are often worn as tops once they become too short and some of our pieces, for example, overalls and playsuits with adjustable straps that can be tied to any length.
Our inspiration comes from many different places: a trip to the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney seeing the beautiful array of blooms; a visit to our grandmother’s place (she’ll often pull out vintage dolls which are dressed in gorgeous handmade dresses for her great-grandchildren to play with; antique stores and of course watching the Paris runway shows.