When I was a little girl, I had a couple of outfits that I constantly wore. You could catch me running around my living room pretending to be a princess or an explorer in my favorite clothes. When I first saw Fleur + Dot's clothing line, all those memories came rushing back. I instantly fell in love with all of the colorful fabrics, the playful silhouettes and sewing patterns. Meet Brianne Wallace, the owner of Fleur + Dot. Read about what inspired her to start designing children's clothing and how her company is growing:
What inspired you to start Fleur and Dot?
I really love fabric and pattern mixing and I just started to play with patterning out apparel and then it was a business and then it was my full time business. I didn't start it with a grand scheme in mind, honestly, and it obviously wasn't that simple, but it was this really organic and surprise thing that took on a life of its own and I am just starting to feel like I am taking ownership of it and learning how to direct it and trying to learn how to tend to it and grow it at three years in. I would never, ever, ever, ever have thought I would be the owner and designer of a line of children's apparel. A few months before I started PetalPetal, I was doing community relations for a non profit and I had no idea I would become a children's clothing designer. I'm so thankful this is what life has given me and that I knew enough to pour so much work into a crazy idea, but it was unexpected to say the least at the time! I have since come to terms with the fact that I had ignored my creative leanings for years while in school because I wanted a career and a secure life. Somehow fate autocorrected me!
Why did you decide to offer ready made clothes and patterns?
When I first launched Fleur + Dot, there was a strong movement towards buying handmade and ethically manufactured apparel. That movement is still growing, but there has been this shift towards not only buying handmade, but actually becoming a maker yourself. I am all for this movement! I think getting your hands into something creative and coming out of it with a wearable piece is so completely satisfying and empowering. I remember after knitting my first pair of socks, that I just couldn't believe I had made a sock! We've become very disconnected from the process of things and lost touch with so many skills that have been a part of human daily life for centuries and centuries, such as making clothes and growing food, building with wood. So the patterns hopefully give the opportunity to take back a bit of those old experiences that defined daily life for so long - and I think lent a deeper appreciation for the items in our life. I love offering ready made apparel, but if you want to jump into the process, please do!
What is your creative process like?
It's a lot of just jumping in. I'm a problem solver, so I like to work through a problem or obstacle as I go. I tend to make decisions very quickly based on gut reactions and trust that I know myself well enough to listen when my heart is saying something. Usually, if I look back from a seemingly sudden decision, there is definitely a build up there, but on the outside, it often looks like I do little to no planning before launching into something new. To be creative, I need quiet, some nature, coffee and a sense that I don't have any deadlines or appointments breathing down my back. I usually go on a sewing spree and try to get all open orders out if I know I want some time to get creative. It gives me a feeling of freedom and being able to step out of the daily rythmn and demands of running a small business.
Tell us about the brand you just launched Wild x Dear.
Oh, I'm so excited about The Wild x Dear! The Wild x Dear are a band of adventurers, artists, storytellers and secret keepers in the form of handmade, waldorf-inspired Forest Lop and Meadow Deer dolls. Each Wild or Dear have hand stitched detailing and are one of a kind. They are inspired by the Waldorf traditions that focus on hands-on creative play and artistic expression. The Wild x Dear line has just launched with dolls, apparel and accessories and patterns, with so much more to come! I am hoping they inspire creative expression through sewing, knitting, crochet, baking, art, storytelling and more! A blog will be up soon with stories and crafts and more patterns and activities are to come as well!
How did you come up with the concept and characters?
My own childhood was spent full of creative activities. I was very, very busy as a child - always making something and could keep myself busy for hours with a bit of paper and string. I wanted to create a fun way for children to have the opportunity to learn skills such as sewing, cross stitch, baking - anything to get their hands busy and their minds expanding - and it's always more fun to do things with a friend, like a sweet Wild x Dear doll!
What is your favorite part about the line?
That I get to play again! It has allowed me to be so creative again because each doll is one of a kind! When I was releasing Fleur + Dot with two collections a year, I felt like I had a couple weeks twice a year to be creative and then it was all about filling and shipping orders. Now that I am steering Fleur + Dot towards limited edition collections released twice a month and working on a new project that is still forming, I feel like I am spending so much more time creating and playing again, which is the point of a creative business that unfortunately can get lost when things get busy!
Also wanted to note that Fleur + Dot will be launching a knit line for women and children in the fall, including ready made pieces and patterns!
What is your workspace like?
I went from a home studio, to a studio in an old, old brick building, to a studio with an attached garden that I developed into a children's space and boutique and am now back in a home studio. I'm so glad we tried out the retail route because now I know it isn't for me! I love working from home by a low window where I can see my chickens and rabbits and dogs romping around. They sometimes come up to the window and peek in and its a great encouragement to take a break and get outside. Ideally, I would be on a bit of land in the country with a separate, greenhouse-esque studio off the house. I feel very close to nature and the natural order of things. It affects the way I work and my energy levels, so no more city studio spaces for me, I'm afraid!
Who are your favorite artists and designers?
I have started to knit and sew most of my own clothes, but I do have an Ace & Jig dress I love, love, love. I spend most of my free money on Etsy or in small boutiques around Portland. I actually feel fairly out of the loop most of the time when it comes to other designers. I don't tend to try to follow trends or current designs and when I have tried they have fallen flat as they just aren't me and my heart isn't in it. I tend to have more favorite authors and musicians, such as "naturalist" poets like Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry and John O'Donohue. I also read a daily Rumi poem. And science and sociology based authors like Oliver Sacks and Malcolm Gladwell.
Thank you for sharing your story and beautiful photos!