When my daughter June was three, she suddenly blurted out one day, “Mommy, I don't like what you're wearing, because I wish I had that!” Little June’s strange way of "complimenting" me on my clothing reminded me of the very desire I felt when I would persistently ask my mother to save a few of her dresses and coats for me many years in advance. I was inspired by how my mother was always impeccably dressed –– she loved a good garment and appreciated well constructed, elegant and classic silhouettes; ones that she could wear for a long time.
This was also around the time when June was getting into dressing up and taking ballet because she "wanted to be in a tutu". Inspired by June's newfound love for ballet and dance, I had started sketching out and creating what was to become EleStory's first Tutu Cute dress design (which took a total of 9 months from conception to getting the right fit). While fitting the prototypes of the Tutu Cute dress on June, she asked me, "Mommy, are you going to make one for yourself too?"
This planted the seed in me that perhaps coordinating outfits for mother and daughter could actually be a good idea, and might I add, be tastefully done.
The concept of matching Mommy-n-Me outfits isn't new even back when I was a child - growing up in Taiwan, there was definitely a culture of matching mommy's clothing to children, but most were basics like tees with the same screen printed messaging, or striped shirts and similar slacks or skirts, and matching baseball caps. All very casual, which definitely was not my mother's style. Mom truly was a fashionable woman with a refined taste.
In my costume design background since college, I had always designed for grown-ups, and had only really started designing for children since having baby June. So it came naturally to me to officially design a matching piece to the girls' design. I got to work designing our first women's piece: Twirly Tulle Skirt. I knew fitting women was going to be more challenging than girls', so I kept it simple and designed a skirt. Also I wanted to coordinate, not match.
When we re-launched the Tutu Cute with the Women's Skirt several months later, in the Fall of 2016 (since Tutu Cute dresses had been sold out), I was really nervous (more so compared to a typical girls' launch). We had not been known as a Mommy-n-Me brand, so how would people receive it? And to be honest, it didn't fly off the shelves then.
But something in me kept wanting to believe in the concept, and perhaps it was also the mom in me that wanted to make my little girl happy to be matching mommy. I wanted to keep trying and believing that it was a matter of time before we were going to be established as a Mommy-n-Me brand. I continued to dream up of Mommy and Me pieces and doing limited runs to test out the designs. By Spring of this year, 2017, we had launched off-shoulder women's pieces to coordinate with the girls' dresses, and I was so grateful those were well-received. Then Fall Flutters also came with coordinating Women's Peasant dresses. Our Ballerina Collection launched this past late August and the reception was much better than what I had expected. I feel like we have finally established the "EleStory Mommy-n-Me" brand. Maybe someday, I'll be able to work on matching boys' clothing too (sorry boy momma's!).
When we try on our mother's clothes and play dress up in their closets, we are doing much more than just trying to fill big shoes with small feet. We're exploring and dipping our toes into the many mysteries of what is it to become a woman; playing around with the possibilities of who we might grow up to be one day. For many girls, our mothers are our first and most influential role models of womanhood. Our brand EleStory celebrates that unique bond.
Every day we receive messages of appreciation and beautiful images from our happy customers that reaffirm what I have always believed: that something special happens when we pay tribute to the universal desire that every little girl has to be just like her Mommy.
Thank you for making this dream come true.
Special thanks to my friend @Jenny Soi Photography for capturing these moments for me and my little girl. And Cassandra Smolcic my friend and staff writer for your brilliant ideas for writing this blog.