Fashion By Mayhem really started out of your child’s desire to express herself, almost by accidentally one afternoon. Can you tell us how it all began?
It actually started out of my desire to no longer find random pieces of MY clothing in her toybox, the far reaches of her closet, etc. 😉 Having moved on from her dress-up clothes, she was sneaking clothes out of my room while I’d shower. One day I suggested we might be able to make a dress out of paper and she was totally on board. I had zero clue what I was doing, but we sat on the floor and taped some construction paper together until it was big enough to wrap around her. She loved it. And asked for another one the very next day. The rest, as they say, is history.
It actually started out of my desire to no longer find random pieces of MY clothing in her toybox, the far reaches of her closet, etc.
Once you saw that she was interested, how did you keep it up? How often were you making the dresses?
It was actually pretty easy to keep it up, as it just became a new way of playing. And it was a welcome/creative change to our routine. I mean, you can only play go fish SO many times, or put together the same puzzle, or play the same counting game, before you start to feel like you’re losing your ever-loving mama mind. So working on a new dress daily (which it did turn into a daily project for many months) was actually a lot of fun. Because no two dresses are ever the same. So even though it may seem like we were just making another dress, we were exploring new ways of doing it, and learning how to craft new styles.
Everything happened pretty quickly, as you described it, how did you deal and what did you tell yourself when you went to bed at night to keep from being overwhelmed?
The immediate attention was INCREDIBLY overwhelming! It’s hard to put into words how you feel when countless media outlets are not only emailing you, but calling your home, your business, and even your family to try and get you to be their exclusive story. One particular national network even somehow got my cell phone number and was repeatedly texting me. It’s a very uncomfortable situation when your small child is at the center of all that buzz and you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to protect her. We were fortunate to have some good friends jump into to help us as soon as the story went viral though. The overwhelm continued for about ten days which was when I decided it had to stop. I was physically getting sick every day and feared I was going to end up in the hospital. Once I realized that I had the ability to be in control (ie: saying NO to people), everything changed.
The overwhelm continued for about ten days which was when I decided it had to stop. I was physically getting sick every day and feared I was going to end up in the hospital. Once I realized that I had the ability to be in control (ie: saying NO to people), everything changed.
In such a public world we live in, many mamas share their lives and increasingly are bringing their kids into the mix. Creating Instagram handles for their kids, and using that as a forum to allow people to connect to their families. What advice do you have for mothers choosing this route?
I love Instagram so much, and I especially love the community there. It’s allowed me to connect with other mamas like me and share a lot of the ups and downs of this motherhood roller coaster we’re all on. My biggest piece of advice for sharing anything online is to choose carefully. Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the entire world seeing. Because they very well may, some day. I did a massive clean up on my Instagram account shortly after our story went viral. I knew that my kid’s photograph was out there and hundreds of thousands of people were looking at our images daily, but I deleted all images containing anyone else (nieces, friends kids, etc.) out of respect for their privacy. Because of the size of our audience, I won’t post images with other people as the subject without having their permission.
As far as accounts specifically for the kids, I’d say the advice would be the same. Obviously, it needs to be a parent run account to meet with Instagram’s TOS, but don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the entire world seeing (having a private account does NOT mean that your images will remain that way). We recently started posting some of the images that Mayhem takes on a separate Instagram account (@FashionByMayhem) because she’s become really interested in taking photographs/videos and we felt like it would be a fun way to share a little more of our story. BUT, her dad and I are the ones who post the content and we certainly choose carefully.
My biggest piece of advice for sharing anything online is to choose carefully. Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the entire world seeing. Because they very well may, some day.
What’s been the biggest challenge for you with Fashion By Mayhem as a brand and the projects you decide to work on?
I’d say the biggest challenge is time management with a five-year-old. We’ve agreed that paper dresses will never be a “job” for her, so it’s never pushed on her (meaning if a dress is going to take 4 hours to make, there’s NO chance it will get done in a single day). But we all have deadlines, so we try to make sure ours are realistic.
How do you go about your day to day work life balance with this venture and just being mom?
If someone has the magic balance serum, I’d love for them to send some my way! It’s tough, figuring it all out, but after many many MANY months of practice, we do have some things that help. For starters, we have an awesome management team based in LA that helps with the business side of things. We chat almost daily about any projects on hand, and they handle the nitty gritty so we can concentrate on just being creative.
In addition, my husband is the third member of Team Mayhem 🙂 He’s our biggest supporter, cheerleader and is there for ANYTHING we need. We’ve arranged our schedules now (we also own and operate a photography studio) so that there are two days a week that I’ll take business calls and do interviews, and he can manage the Mayhem and Moxie (our new pup!) duo.
I try to get a lot done before Mayhem gets up in the morning and then after she goes to bed, but as all the mamas out there know, balance can be pretty elusive.
Where do you see this heading for your daughter and what would you want to tell her now that she could look back on as advice?
Truthfully, I hope from all of this, she simply learns to embrace new experiences and gets really comfortable with getting outside her comfort zone. Or maybe I’m hoping that her comfort zone just stays really broad. Some of the experiences we’ve had in the past year were intimidating for me but I felt like it was important for her to grow up not being intimidated by those things. I have NO idea where all of this leads for her, and we’re not trying to script out her life. She gets to do her own dreaming and write her own story, but if we can help her explore new interests and embrace new experiences, then I think that’s the best “gift” we can give her.
I have NO idea where all of this leads for her, and we’re not trying to script out her life. She gets to do her own dreaming and write her own story, but if we can help her explore new interests and embrace new experiences, then I think that’s the best “gift” we can give her.
Is Little Mayhem going to be at NYFW this year?
We’d LOVE to go back to NYFW! IF the right opportunity arises. Our past two NYFW experiences have been a lot of fun and the chance for her to see how many different ways you CAN work in the fashion industry is invaluable. There are stylists, production people, media …. all in addition to the designers, so it’s been awesome for her to see how VERY many different people (and jobs) it takes to make something like NYFW happen.
What’s the most exciting collaboration you’ve done or have in the works?
Everything we’ve chosen to work on has truly been a blast! But if I had to pick, I’d say that working with the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women was a favorite because it gave Mayhem the chance to see that our work could be used to help people in some way. We designed some red dresses in support of women’s heart month (February), but they also brought us in to NYFW for the Red Dress Collection to help spread the message that girls and women of every age need to be healthy and take care of their hearts. And it was done in such a way, that the entire experience was totally age appropriate. It felt like a slam dunk all around and we really enjoyed the chance to support such an awesome cause.
How have you changed, and how has Mayhem changed throughout this experience?
I think my biggest change is my openness to try new things. As mentioned previously, there have been a few opportunities that were a bit intimidating, but each time we’ve said yes to those things, we’ve grown in ways we couldn’t have previously imagined. As for Mayhem, there haven’t really been a lot of changes. She’s definitely influenced now by some of experiences we’ve had and she’s learned SO much along the way, but I don’t see them as changes so much as I see them as she’s just growing up differently than I did.
Can you leave us with some of the words you live by or quotes you love that keep you motivated and peaceful before the night ends and the day begins?
I’ve come to really appreciate the idea that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.