State Of Escape: The Women Behind The Perfect Neoprene Carryall

I haven’'t used the term ‘IT bag’ for quite a few years now, but when describing the State Of Escape ‘Escape’ bag it feels appropriate, because ‘it’ really is everywhere. “"Discovering that the incredibly stylish and talented Olivia Palermo walked into a bassike store and bought two of our Escape bags was a serious goose bumps moment!”" says Sydney-based co-founder Desley Maidment, who together with best friend Brigitte MacGowan launched the brand last year. High-end retailers such as bassike, Belinda and The Corner Shop picked up the bags within months and it'’s easy to see why. The beauty of this bag is in its sheer simplicity: a fashion-forward neoprene carryall with rope handles, it comes in cool neon colours and classic neutral hues. Oh, and it’'s machine washable which is brilliant news for mothers.

"“It was designed from scratch,”" says MacGowan. “"There was no prototype from which we drew reference. What started with a piece of thick neoprene fabric became what is now the Escape carryall.” It took a year to develop the perfect bag.“Versatility, with a simple aesthetic was important to us,”" says MacGowan. “"Size also matters… - it must be large enough to carry the essentials with kids, but not so enormous that when it’s a kid free day it seems crazy.”"

I’'m so excited to run this story because basically, I’'m obsessed with my 'Escape' bag, which holds everything (and trust me, with a toddler and a baby by my side most of the time, I lug a lot of stuff around) and I also love hearing about the journeys of other entrepreneurial mothers….

Desley Maidment and Brigitte MacGowan with their 'Escape' bags

What has motherhood taught you so far?

BM: What hasn’'t motherhood taught me! I suppose the one thing that comes straight to mind is that it’s OK to relinquish control and let go. This is something that doesn'’t come naturally to me! The world will still continue to turn tomorrow if the house isn’'t cleaned today. It’''s the crazy moments you’re dancing around the living room with your kids that make cleaning the Weet-Bix (that have quickly turned to concrete) off the floor worthwhile.

What’s the best advice you’'ve ever been given about motherhood?

BM: My sister once told me that’s it’'s all the hard work you put in when they'’re young that makes them the gorgeous young adults they become. So on those days when you feel like a broken record as you'’ve asked the kids a 100 times to use their manners, eat with their mouths closed and to look an adult in the eye when they say hello, will all be rewarded in the end hopefully!

What's your morning dressing routine consist of and has it changed since you became a mother?

DM: Quick weather check, diary check and then an outfit that normally consists of some form of denim, soft tee and a flat. Hair and make up is minimal, but enough to ensure I look respectable after a shorter than desired night of sleep. I try to get up and dressed before the kids find me… otherwise it takes forever!! Yes, before kids I wore far more fancy clothes, heels and had time to primp and preen, plus working in the city was a more glamorous affair than working at home.

How long does it take you to get dressed in the morning?

DM: All critical to the amount of time I have before the kids wake. Ideally not too long… - 40 minutes.

Can you tell us about your background and how you came to launch State of Escape?

DM: Prior to starting a family, I worked in fashion recruitment for almost 10 years and loved it! Brig and I became friends through our children who befriended each other –- both sets of girls are very close in age. We had a common love of travel, a desire to create something for ourselves and then a small light bulb moment.

What have been some highlights since you launched the brand?

DM: Definitely having our Escape Bags ranged in bassike –- it's not only an incredible opportunity but also a truly fantastic group of individuals to work with. Premiere Vision in Paris (the world’s premier fabric show) was an unbelievably inspiring and momentous trip for Brig and I both.

What’s next for the brand?

BM: Product development of new styles, which stay true to our aesthetic and core principles. We have two new styles being released in store at bassike before Christmas. The ‘Flying Solo’, which is a slightly smaller carryall for when all you need is your essentials – imagine that as a mum! And the ‘Cityscape’, which is larger again than the original Escape Bag.

Did your career change at all after the birth of your children?

DM: Yes I found my headspace had changed incredibly, I needed something new, fresh and different. I felt it was now or never to do something on my own and had been thinking, searching… and then thanks to my super creative business partner Brig a fabulous concept materialised.

What are your tips for achieving balance?

BM: I think the term ‘juggle’ is more relevant to my life than ‘balance’. Balance would infer that there is consistent harmony in the household! My life is more akin to having ten balls in the air and I’'m just hoping that I can just keep them all up there. If I had any tip it would be a consistent routine for the kids. I find as long as the kids' know what’'s going on everyday they cope with the unpredictability of my life a lot better. I think the saying should be ‘happy kids, happy life’ not ‘happy wife, happy life’!

How do you juggle your work commitments with being a mother?

BM: With a self-employed husband who’'s always happy to step in, a great network of babysitters from our local daycare centre and the fact Desley’s and my kids are best friends as are we. Quite often on a Monday one of us will take our two youngest for a play date while the other one works - the kids love it and it’'s guilt free work time for us!

Have you always loved fashion? How would you describe your style?

DM: Yes I have always definitely been interested in fashion but not obsessed; it has just been a part of what interests me (travel is more my obsession). My style is very laid back, classic and yet evolves as I experience new places and meet new people.

What are your favourite go-to fashion brands?

DM: bassike (way before we worked with them), Vince, IRO, J.Crew, Lee and TLuxe.

What do you carry in your bag?

BM: It’'s so heavy at times I wonder what I must be carrying around! There’'s always the essentials, a water bottle, wallet, sunglasses, ‘to do’ list and then in my little pouch my mobile, lip-balm and eye-drops. Then there’s all the other 20 things that accumulate… fabric samples, rope and all the kids paraphernalia like that Barbie shoe that one of them has been searching for all week!

Photography: Julie Adams Words: Georgie Abay For more information, go to

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