This week’s That Mama is Thuy-Tien, creator of whimsical and colour-filled children’s clothing brand, La Petite Caravane. We catch up with her to find out how she manages the juggle, what inspires her and her tips for fellow mama-preneurs!
Where you do buy your clothes? How do you stay stylish as a mum?
I enjoy fashion, but I don’t shop often. Growing up in Paris, I enjoyed finding unique clothes for which I have a “coup de coeur”. Rather than follow fashion, I collect beautiful pieces. I may go to a small designer or find something at a vintage shop. I have my secret shops near the Louvre in Paris, Shimokitazawa in Tokyo and on the back streets of Milan. I like simple cuts, strong prints and natural fibers.
For an everyday outfit , I usually wear a blouse with jeans or skirt. I enjoy enriching an outfit with necklaces or bracelet. Particular favorites are an orange bead necklace brought back from Bahia, Brazil and a large silver necklace from the Hmong tribes of Laos.
My ultimate pleasure, however, is designing and sewing my own dresses, often inspired by the 1950s and 60s.
How do you save time?
I don’t think of “saving time”, I aim to maximize it. Saving implies a functional cutting of corners, while maximizing time is about making the most of your day. As a creative entrepreneur, I take advantage of my freedom. This means I take our daughter Iris for a swim between meetings or join my husband for a lecture at the Royal Geographical Society.
What are your organizational tricks and tips?
Improvise! Structured flexibility allows me to maximize my time while adapting to changing plans and sudden new business opportunities. Flexibility allows room for creativity, while structure – to-do lists – make sure that I cover all the necessary items.
Where do you shop for kids clothes and your household basics and food?
As a children’s clothing designer, my daughter’s clothes tend to be hand-sewn and designed by me. In shopping for the household, I mix buying fresh fruit and vegetables from the Wet Market with imported fish and meats from shops like City’Super or Three Sixty. I am excited by the increasing amount of locally grown organic produce available in Hong Kong.
What is your beauty must-have product?
Ever since Nuxe launched its spa on the ground floor of my apartment building in Paris, I can’t leave home without their Crème Fraiche facial cream. I alternate between Diptyque perfumes – l’Ombre dans l’eau, Philosykos or Oyedo – depending on my mood and seasons.
What is your favorite activity to do with your daughter in Hong Kong?
There is so much to do in Hong Kong that it is hard to choose, but we do enjoy hiking with our two-year old daughter as often as possible on weekends. Hiking brings her close to nature and inspires creativity. Iris often collects stones, sticks and special pieces of grass. She often sings and invents stories as we hike.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
Travel as much as you can with a young baby. Jet lag is not an issue, so we took our daughter traveling from the age of four months across the region and around the world. She is now very much at ease on long-haul flights and has an impressive passport for her young age. In travel, you see the inherent adaptability of children.
What inspired you to start La Petite Caravane?
Trained in political science and economics, I have always nurtured my creativity. Over the last two years, I learned how to make patterns and sew women’s clothing. While I enjoy designing women’s clothing, I found it more inspiring to bring strong prints and story telling to children’s clothes.
What advice would you give to other mamas who want to set up a business?
Firstly, rent office space outside of home, preferably with other entrepreneurs. Getting away from home has been crucial to launching my business. The office environment creates a clearer mind, beyond the million of things that need to be done at home. The more you concentrate, the faster you get back home!
Secondly, share your ideas and passion. I have done this by writing a blog – about my journey from being a strategic planner to designing clothes. Comments from those following the blog offered inspiration and great advice.
Thirdly — don’t think too much; follow your passion and see where it leads!
You can visit La Petite Caravane’s showroom at Room 306, Yu Yuet Lai Building, 43-55 Wyndham Street, Central, or Thuy-Tien will also be taking part in Wednesday 14th’s Conrad Fair.
Fabulous photos by Ifat Kafry Hindes of Hindessight Photography.