For this year’s Mother’s Day – we decided to do something special. So instead of presenting you with a million ideas of what to get your own mom – we decided to interview Thien, the founder of L’amour est bleu – one of our brands – that also happens to be a mom. From what I hear it’s enough of an endeavour to be a mom. But I look up to women that build and run a business alongside having a family (while I’m struggling enough running a business without being a mom). I went to visit Thien at her cosy apartment in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin – where we sat down on her couch with a cup of tea. Next to us, her 7-month-old son was teetering around, laughing at us as we spoke, while her four-year-old daughter was still in the Kindergarten.
Let’s start off with some quick questions to warm up
Blue, of course 😉
Favourite holiday destination?
Difficult, but I’d have to say Vietnam. I have lots of family there, so I can experience the country in a different way to a normal tourist.
The Dalai Lama – How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life. I listen to a lot of podcasts like the one by Laura Malina Seiler about mindfulness. I found that a lot of the concepts come from Buddhism. I read the book for the first time when I was 18 and it really resonated with me, so I decided to read it again, especially since the concepts he describes are discussed a lot currently.
Have you always had an interest in fashion?
When I was a child I would always sketch people and what they were wearing, making up stories around it. It was soon clear that I wanted to be a fashion designer, creating fashion that will accompany people through their entire lives. After school, I then went on to study fashion design and I have an MBA in Textile Management. From there I went to work in the conventional fashion world, but having my own brand was always my dream.
What inspired you to start a conscious brand?
I’ve always worked in fashion – so fast-fashion was my world and I used to be your classic fashion victim, meaning that I bought anything that was trendy or appealed to me. After a while my wardrobe was exploding and I constantly felt like I had nothing to wear. Around that time I came across Marie Kondo. Her philosophy really spoke to me. I noticed that a lot of the clothes I own were really bad quality, some still had tags on them and in some cases I had even forgotten about them in the depths of my wardrobe.
That really shocked me – I wanted to be able to open my wardrobe and find only pretty things. As well as have the feeling that I have everything I need. This is the concept for L’amour est bleu. A fashion brand that reinvents classic designs in a modern way – every piece at L’amour est bleu can be combined into many different outfits – so that my customers can have a lean high-quality wardrobe.
With your brand, you want to help people create capsule wardrobes. Can you explain the concept to our readers?
A capsule wardrobe means that you only own clothes with a timeless design that can be easily styled up or down to suit any occasion. All the clothes in your wardrobe can be combined – this way you only need a few items to create a lot of different styles.
What are your top tips for starting a capsule wardrobe. What are the essentials?
The first step when starting a capsule wardrobe is to watch yourself for a while. What are your favorite pieces? What clothes do you feel comfortable in? Try to find a pattern and derive your own style from it. When you found your style, look out for which clothes fit you best and colours you like. Then think about what you need in your everyday life. For a capsule wardrobe you often only need five to ten key-pieces that you can mix and match.
Once you have set-up your capsule wardrobe, before buying something new, always make sure that its good quality and fits in with your style and the pieces you already own.
Let’s get personal. Tell us how you became a mompreneur?
I actually wanted to start my fashion brand while I was on maternity leave with my daughter. But that didn’t work out at all. I thought it can’t be that hard. Having a baby is something completely natural right? But during the entire year of my maternity leave, I was completely occupied with my daughter. She had so much more character than I thought a baby would have. I didn’t find the time to work on anything – let alone a fashion brand.
So, I wanted to start it when I went back to working part-time. But as any mother working part-time will tell you – it’s never part-time. I ended up working almost 40 hours per week. With my husband travelling a lot for his job, it was a lot to handle already.
When I finally quit my job to move to Berlin with my family, my daughter was two years old at the time, so I finally had time to start my brand. When my daughter was in day-care in the morning or in bed in the evening I would work on L’amour est bleu. It was not easy, but if you are really motivated to do something, you will find the time and energy to do it. Basically motivations and passion vs sleep!
So what are some tips you can give to other moms that want to start a business?
- You need to be well organised and structure your day well.
- Get help – this is something that I have to work on myself. A babysitter or some household help, especially if you do not have family nearby to help out.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. You cannot do everything and you cannot be perfect at everything.
Also, learn to be flexible. Especially with a baby at home – there are so many things that you cannot plan for. So if your plans are too rigid, you will be frustrated and burned out quickly.
What’s your vision for L’amour est bleu?
I might be reaching for the stars here, but I really want to change the fashion industry. There are a lot of great things happening already, but I want L’amour est bleu become so big that it puts pressure on the fashion industry and that sustainability becomes the norm.
What are you working on at the moment? What’s next for you?
On the one hand, I want to expand L’amour est bleu internationally. On the other hand, get closer to my customers. I’m thinking about offline events and pop-up stores. Also, I’m looking into launching a few new pieces in my collection – so stay tuned.