Recently, my baby girl June started humming a song she had learned in daycare that brought back memories of this very familiar tune my mother used to sing to me in my native tongue:
Why is your nose so long?
Mama says, long noses
Are just beautiful…”
I love that the mom is teaching her baby elephant that her naturally long nose is what makes her beautiful. In this song I hear echoes of my mother who always encouraged me to pursue my passions and to invest in the things that came naturally to me.
When I was about 5 or 6, I remember timidly asking my mom if I could have a piece of lace to make dresses for my dolls. We got into a taxi and traveled deep into the fabric district of Taiwan to pick out my lace. When I received it in a plastic bag, I kept reaching inside to touch it. It was a magical moment for me, and I was so giddy during the ride home. I took other materials I had collected: used socks with holes, unwanted pj pants, mom’s pantyhose, and this new pristine lace, and quickly created a collection of dresses for my barbie doll. Mother was beaming when she saw the finished product.
I lost my mom to cancer five years ago and have been missing her horribly, especially as I face the daily challenges of motherhood with my baby girl, who is growing up all too quickly. My mom was not perfect. She made many mistakes in her life, her marriage, and even as my mother–but she had an unwavering belief in me. It took me this long to realize, but she WAS my biggest fan, cheering always on the sidelines for me to embrace who I was.
Ever since I became a mom, my baby girl has inspired me to sew beautiful things for her. She gets so excited when she sees new items hanging around our house that are made for her. She has started saying “Mama’s [clothes]” (in Chinese). She is now my biggest fan, getting all giddy over clothes that I put on her to try on. Her proud face while wearing my handmade garments reminds me that my mom is smiling down at me. Starting a children’s clothing line is my dream--this is my “ele story” being written.
Judy Jou, designer/co-founder • April 2013