Ainslie Hutchinson’s search for a slower paced life lead her family to Byron Bay, and it’s here that her eponymous childrenswear line, aptly titled Daughter, came to life...
The collection features trans-seasonal pieces designed with nostalgia and longevity in mind, meaning they’re made to look as good today as they will in years’ to come thanks to their high-quality fabrics, classic silhouettes and sustainable production processes. The inspiration? Her two young daughters, Indie and Elke, son Atlas and the Byron Bay community fuelled by nature and neighbourhood spirit. We caught up with the multitasking designer and mother of three to talk all things Daughter, Byron Bay living and motherhood.
How did your label Daughter come about, have you always been interested in starting a childrenswear label?
The inspiration behind Daughter is, not so surprisingly, my two daughters. I wanted to dress them in comfortable pieces that were appropriate for our lifestyle, and most importantly I wanted pieces that were not going to fall apart after the first wear. I have always loved the sentiment behind a hand me down, a piece of clothing that was worn and loved by an older sister being passed down to a younger sister to have a second chance at life. My search for such pieces came up empty so I decided to create them myself.
What’s your main inspiration when designing clothing for kids ?
We aim to create classic timeless pieces with simple silhouettes rather than passing trends and ensure the longevity of our clothing by using high quality, natural fabrics and manufacturing in an ethical and sustainable environment. We encourage families to participate in conscious consumption by investing in few but special, key pieces knowing that when they are outgrown they will be passed down to younger siblings for many more years of enjoyment. We try not to tie our pieces too closely to a season in order for the same garments to be able to be worn layered in winter and pared back in summer. Each of our pieces have been thoughtfully designed to meet the needs of children in the 0-14 age group, with comfort and versatility being the main priority.
How do you juggle the demands of Daughter with the demands of motherhood?
The best part of having my own business is being able to create my own hours and work the needs of the business in around the needs of the family. I always knew for this to work, Daughter needed to be something that was able to fit in with the lifestyle we lead and not something that would pull focus from my family. Whilst I try to keep work to a minimum when the kids are present, I’m really glad that my children get to grow up seeing both of their parents working hard and contributing to the running of family equally. I don’t think they pay much attention now, but one day I hope they’ll look back and remember spending their weekends by my side in the shop and playing eye spy in the line at the post office. And through it all knowing they were my priority, and that I did it all for us.
In terms of getting things done, I’m lucky enough to have an extremely patient and understanding husband who takes the reins with the kids whenever I need to bunker down. A lot of my work is done late at night after the kids are in bed and now that the girls are in school and preschool I’m able to have a couple of dedicated days a week to solely work on Daughter.
What was the jump like going from 2 to 3 kids compared to 1 to 2?
Despite all the anecdotes from almost everyone we know about the third child being a barely noticeable addition, I personally found the jump from two to three children the most difficult. Their close ages with having three kids in four years meant the girls were both still quite young and did (and do) still really need me to be very hands-on with them.
One major difference has been that living up here has meant we have really been on our own since day one with this child. No family nearby, no one to really step in and lend a hand with the older two made things logistically a lot harder initially. I used to find it hard to even sit down to feed Atlas when he was younger, always feeding in the carrier (thank you Ergo!) or ever get him into any sort of sleep routine when I was so busy running around after the girls. Thankfully this has resulted in him having a very adaptable and go with the flow type of personality. The perfect traits for a third child if you ask me!
Describe the allure of raising kids in Byron Bay...
What really drew us to settle here was the desire for our kids to enjoy a simple childhood. A place where children can really be children and grow up surrounded by a loving community of like-minded friends who feel like family. We love that the kids are able to spend so much time outdoors. They are always climbing, building, running and swimming. They get to experience eating homegrown produce whether it be from our property, friends or one of the farmers we purchase from each week at the markets. Their schools have chickens that lay each morning and the children run down to collect the eggs and bring them up to class to excitedly show their teacher. Last week the kinder kids were asked to bring something in from their garden for ’news’ and Indie asked if she could bring in some of the mandarins from our tree. I have never seen a wider smile than when she walked into school carrying basket filled with 19 mandarins- one for every child in her class. Its the simple things like that that make it clear that we made the right decision to raise our kids here.
What does a typical morning in your household look like?
With my eldest recently starting school our mornings are no longer the slow start, they used to be. Its taken almost two terms for us to get into a routine but we’re starting to find our rhythm and learning to love the early starts. Now that its winter, we start the day with a warm breakfast. Lately, they have been loving cashew quinoa porridge topped with grated apple or berries and then usually by the time everyone has eaten its a rush out the door to get to school. On Thursdays, we get up early to make a before school trip to the farmers market where we get most of our fresh produce for the week. It’s always a challenge to get the kids to leave when its time for school as they’d much rather stay up in the trees with their friends but it’s like a ritual we look forward to every week.
What’s the first thing you do when you have a moment to yourself sans kids?
It sounds simple but I like to make myself a cup of Chai a sit on the lounge with a book. When you have three little ones silence is truly golden!
What’s next for Daughter?
So many exciting things on the horizon that we can’t wait to share. We are about to launch a curated selection of our Somewhere collection with a major retailer in the US, which is a very exciting step for the business. We plan to dedicate most of 2019 to travel, exploring new places and sparking inspiration for our future collections.