I found Minouche through Instagram and immediately feel in love with their timeless, vintage inspired style. Their stunning designs make any girl feel girly. Designer Ally Mahoney started as so many moms do- by creating something that would be the best for their child. After countless hours on the sewing machine, and etsy orders up to her ears, Ally decided to expand her line and create it ethically.
I sat down with Ally to understand why she decided to choose ethical production and what she most values from her experience thus far. Get to the bottom of the post and receive a 10% off gift from Ally!
What inspired you to start Minouche?
Minouche started as a hobby – if I had set out originally to start a business I probably would’ve been too intimidated to do it! After my second daughter was born I bought a sewing machine, and enjoyed creating clothing for my girls. As my confidence grew I decided to open an Etsy store – I figured I had nothing to lose but a little time, but before too long I was receiving too many orders for me to deal with on my own. It was stressful trying to get all my orders done while looking after two small children, so I decided to take the leap to outsource the production so that I could focus on growing the business.
Not long before I decided to outsource production, I had been reading a lot about the 2013 factory collapse in Bangladesh – it was such a terribly sad and unfortunate situation that could’ve been prevented had the companies involved had more concern about the people working for them.This was a huge factor in choosing a producer – I needed to be able to visit the workspace and see the conditions for myself. I also needed to be absolutely certain that no children were employed in the process – as a mother, and a human, I couldn’t stomach the thought of having child labour as part of my equation. For these reasons I chose Bali, Indonesia as the location to have my garments produced – it was near enough to me in Sydney that I could make regular visits. I’m pleased to say that whenever I have visited the team producing for me they are happy, joking around and having a lot of fun. The team also undergoes constant professional development to further their skill set and increase the employability; and are never placed under pressure to work overtime.
What social or global issues stir your insides the most?
Oh there are too many! It may sound ignorant, but I consciously decided to stop reading most news media a few years ago – there are just so many problems facing our world today and it was making me feel guilty that I didn’t have the time and energy to help in any significant way. I will however watch the odd documentary and the War on Waste had a big impact on me – the rise of fast, disposable fashion is so wasteful for our precious resources; and for little gain. And it’s not just the factor of barely-worn clothing going into landfill – the clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world (with oil being first) – fast fashion takes such a huge toll on our environment, everything from the dyes used that end up in our waterways, to the environmental cost of shipping clothing around the world.
Fast fashion takes such a huge toll on our environment, everything from the dyes used that end up in our waterways, to the environmental cost of shipping clothing around the world.
It might seem strange that in my line of work I’m urging people to buy less, but I hope that people can put a little thought into their purchases – those 3 for $20 leggings might seem like a good deal, but will they last? Will you put them away for your grandchildren to wear one day? What impact have they had on our environment? If consumers were willing to buy quality over quantity their purchases would last so much longer, and be able to be handed to down to the next generation. It’s so much lovelier to wear something that was previously worn by a beloved sibling, cousin or even parent, and its so much better for our environment.
So many places to, so little time! My husband and I were fortunate enough to travel a fair bit before our kids came along. That being said, we haven’t totally stopped travelling since they came along, having taken them to Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Spain and France in the last 5 years. However if time and money were no object, I would love to spend a Christmas in Finland, the full white Christmas experience which is so very different from what we have here in Australia.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned since starting Minouche?
I feel like I’ve learned so much in the past two years, but haven’t even scratched the surface! One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is sometimes you just need to go for it – you can think about something and plan, and anticipate everything that could go wrong, try to make everything perfect…but if you do that, you’ll probably never take the leap. Also – not to sweat the small stuff. I’ve had several moments which seemed like complete disasters at the time, but in the long run, they weren’t so bad…you just need to be flexible and work around issues as they arrive.
What future plans do you have for Minouche?
This (Australian) Spring I have some sweet vintage-inspired basics for boys coming out which I’m looking forward to – after two years of only girls in my Instagram feed I’m looking forward to seeing some little boys! I’ll also have a few dresses for the mamas coming in Spring, which I’m very nervous about but also very excited! The trend of mothers and children dressing the same doesn’t look like its going away, and I hope to see some lovely mama/daughter duos in Minouche later this year!
What is one thing you can’t get through the day without?
Sleep! I am most definitely not one of those who can get by on a few hours…9 hours a night is what I need to operate at my best. Of course, I rarely get it, so I guess what I can’t get through the day without would have to be coffee, and lots of it.
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