Ready or not moms it’s here!! It’s time for back-to-school! I can still remember going back-to-school shopping with my mom and sister. There is just something about walking in to school in your new outfit that gives you a little extra confidence in your step! Today I’ve got the most fabulous little girls back-to-school style for you with a company I’m adoring right now (and know you will too).
The company is called frankie & fern by the lovely designer Lisa Miller and is based right here in San Antonio. When I was first introduced to the line I was immediately drawn to the precious vintage-vibe that was, not only stylish, but also great clothing for girls to move around in. There is an effortless ease about the designs and the fabrics are super versatile – style them up or down! I’m still hoping to talk Lisa in to doing some designs for boys as well!
Lisa and I recently had the opportunity to get together for a photo shoot (with two of my friends adorable girls) and chat a bit more about the brand. I always love doing a designer Q&A because you get to dive in to their creative, entreprenuer mind a bit more. So keep on reading as we get a close-up look at Lisa Miller and frankie & fern! Additionally, Lisa has been kind enough to share a discount code for all sTORIbook readers to help your little girls kick off the school year on a stylish foot!
20% off DISCOUNT CODE: storibook20
What makes frankie & fern unique in children’s apparel?
I began designing with myself and the kids in my life as the customer. The children’s clothes I was seeing were either super trendy (fast fashion) almost made to toss out after a just a few wears, or pricey, “fru fru” things – none of which seemed realistic for a kid’s daily life. Nor did pieces like these appear to be of good value.
I was also aware that it’s not uncommon for a little one’s closet to be brimming with clothes seemingly bringing about decision fatigue when it was time to get dressed. When it boils down to it, a kid will want to wear maybe seven to ten things out of dozens of items! Aside from purple unicorn PJ’s, I wondered what these handful of items had in common. I decided comfort was paramount, then uniqueness (because kids as young as two-years-old want express individuality) and color (get the colors right!) and finally softness. No scratchy labels or itchy/rough/tight anything, thank you.
Lastly, we wanted to make it radically easy for kids to dress themselves, fostering growth and independence. No zippers down the back that kids can’t reach and nothing to tie. Our clothes allow room to move in comfort and unique style.
We’re building a collection of easy going, sweetly sophisticated pieces made from the most coveted and durable of fabrics. The frankie & fern brand is fast becoming known for timeless beauty… designs that are always in style and beautifully durable. Parents love how easy it is to care for our pieces. No special washing instructions.
Tell us about your creation process, manufacturing and where your clothes are made?
I design classic-modern American clothes with a suggestion of Europe in the details as my late mom was European. I’m part tomboy and part hair and nails so I’m always designing for those two personas. They are almost characters for me – one is Frankie and one Fern. When designing I have stories about these characters running in my head. I ask myself where they might be going with their parents or what they might be doing on a given day and what kind of garment they want to wear. Then I set to work with my creative team to bring new designs into prototype phase, from there I move to fitting / focus group rounds and then we go into a small run production.
Everything is lovingly cut and sewn by a wonderful collective of expert local makers here in San Antonio. It’s great for me because I can oversee the day-to-day of the whole production process and I really trust the people I’m working with to consistently provide the highest quality work. So nice to work with people that you know really well and trust implicitly.
How do you feel current trends affect your designs?
I’ll defer to Milton Glaser’s essay on Ten Things. A must-read for creatives but the part about “style” really struck a chord with me.
As a female entrepreneur what are some challenges you have faced and how have you overcome them? And what advice do you have for other female entrepreneurs?
I’m fortunate that in my previous life I worked in a majority female-owned industry. Now that I’m in fashion business, it’s much the same… a lot of women in C-suite roles. I’ve never felt that my gender is a challenge. I’d say most of my queries are results of my own limitations… things I need to learn and hone. I will simply never stop learning about the business and creative sides of what I do. Women are playing a large role in the workforce (something like 47% of the U.S. labor force is female). As women business owners, we are creating new workplaces/ecosystems, setting examples for our kids-girls and boys. My hope is that through my hyper local affiliation with other entrepreneurs we will collectively encourage the “anything is possible” mantra in our community and our youth. I advise other entrepreneurs to collaborate with compatible businesses in their community – it’s really the best way to build I sound support system from which you can grow into farther reaching markets.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
I’m an early riser – 5am on average. I’m also a runner so I pretty much have to set the tone for my day (after my coffee 😊) by lacing up and hitting the road. It’s a moving meditation for me… a time to gather my thoughts and a time where any fogginess usually comes into clarity. I gain a great deal of strength and perseverance from competing in half marathons (I’m currently training for my first full marathon – NYC – in November). Breaking mental barriers (as you would in a long race) often carries over into my daily operations.
After my run, I attend to emails and social media. Then I fulfill orders, head to the shipping post, and meet with whomever and whatever the day calls for. Either my sewing/production team, mamas with daughters (brand ambassadors) for model fittings, photographers, bloggers, and the talented team who help with my social media and website/e-commerce.
Then I eat! I’m vegan so lunch is usually some rendition of a grain-vegetable bowl. Time permitting, I’ll meet my son who works in downtown San Antonio to grab lunch or coffee. So many great places to choose from!
Then back to the office, interacting with and ordering from my suppliers (thread, labels, elastic and fabric) talking to my wholesale customers, submitting my line sheets to potential new stock lists, lining up the following day’s to-do list, ect.
Where do you see the frankie & fern brand in the next 5 years? Keep growing! Love collaborating and contributing to the health and happiness quotient of this warm and culturally rich city on rise which I’m proud and excited to call my new home.
Continuing to grow! I love collaborating and contributing to the health and happiness quotient of this warm and culturally rich city on the rise which I’m proud and excited to call my new home.
I’ll build on the strong foundation of our core styles adding to the collection every year. We’re poised to earn more wholesale boutique customers. I see unlimited and amazing opportunity for collaborations with local brands. As we expand I’m looking at more fashion shows, trade shows, press and blog features. And simply having fun around giving and receiving inspiration from others who value slow fashion and handmade approaches “is always in the plan.” I love the idea of paying it forward. I’m still in lean start up mode but I so value the people who helped me get this far including their willingness and generosity of time and resources. In a modest way, I’m now able extend that thread to others. We’re debuting the sweetest Liberty skirt and top this coming season. But my fave FW’17 piece is a hand knit Pom Pom beanie lovingly designed and made by one very talented San Antonio-area maker!
Have you considered expanding into boys apparel?
Lately, I’m studying feeds of some of the gender neutral clothiers. I admire the flexibility of the designs. And the kids wear segment is starting to reflect that the definitions around boys and girls clothes are changing. It’s funny. We did a head scarf/bandanna this summer. It was inspired last season by the son of an Atlanta boutique owner, carrying Frankie & Fern dresses. Anyway, this young boy was going out to a nice Buckhead area dinner with his sister and parents and he decided he wanted to wear a pocket square in his blazer like his dad. So this ingenuous, fun kid proceeded to fold a cloth table napkin into a proper form and stuffed it in his jacket pocket! Shortly after his mom called me asking if I’d ever consider designing and producing pocket squares out of the Liberty fabric! We made some for her shop and I did more of them this season…some matching the Liberty prints of our SS17 dresses. The bandannas are proving a versatile and gender neutral accessory. Grown-up guys are wearing them and back pockets of jeans! Love.
20% off DISCOUNT CODE: storibook20
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Disclaimer: I received compensation for this post. All opinions expressed here are my own.