Welcome to the third round of STYLE SESSIONS WITH! This time around I had the opportunity to have a chat with the creators behind the Californian label Mini & Maximus. Megan Villa and Sophie St-Onge put their creative heads together and created a brand of kids clothing that would celebrate kids in all their amazing, dirty and wonderful glory! Sit back, grab a cup of something and tag along on a interesting journey behind the brand that so many kids an parents love today...
Can you tell us a little about how Mini & Maximus got started? I am curious to hear about the spark of inspiration that started it, and how did you come up with the name?
Sophie: I've wanted to start something that would have to do with graphics. I had no idea it would of been clothing and home goods specifically for kids. Originally Megan approached me for some graphic design help she need it for a bedding company she had in mind. Turns out one late night while I was feeding Sasha my 1st child I though of asking Megan if she would start "something" or some creative company with me. And yay! she said yes... At the time I had worked with Megan for few years and I liked her work ethic, personality and her energy.
I knew I needed a business partner to get on this journey, so much more fun that way. Now I know it actually was necessary. No way I could do all of it myself. NO WAY. We've been working really well together, I think we have the right personalities to complete each other in the the business world. We both let each other win or loose on some decisions but never any hard feelings. It's just like if we were married. HAH!
Megan and I did ton of research and came up with a million names. Until I heard the name Maximus for a little boy... I was thinking I could call my son Maximus if I ever had a boy. Megan and I loved that name in general but we were not 100% sure until Megan suggested to add Mini. We felt that Mini and Maximus was perfect for us. We love things to be balanced and equal: Mini and Maximus: Boys and girls, young and old, big and small. Mini represent: the small, the girl, the little dream where Maximus is the opposite; the big, the boy, the big dream. On and one...
What is the hardest/most rewarding with having your own label?
Megan: The hardest part of having our label is not having enough time to do everything we want to do. We wear many hats as it is pretty much just the two of us, so we have our hands in everything. If we could have more time in the day, I think that would help a lot. The most rewarding part is when I speak to people that have actually heard of us or see someone wearing our products. There have been some very unexpected times, when random people will say-I bought one of your posters, or we own several of your tees. That is very gratifying for me.
Sophie: Certainly not having enough time in the day and all the money we wish we could spend. We run a very tight ship and every penny counts.The most rewarding thing is just like what Megan answered. Seeing random people telling us how much they love our brand, seeing cute photos of kids wearing our clothes. WE LOVE THAT.
And of course we love seeing Gwen Stefani's kids rock our clothes, we love her style and we are flattered that she has her kids in our clothes.
What makes Mini & Maximus different from other kids fashion labels?
Megan: Mini & Maximus is different from other kids labels for a number of reasons. We have a story behind our brand. Sophie and I have both worked for a major surf company for the past ten years, so having a story to tell is just second nature to us as that is what sets you apart from brands that just churn out apparel. We partner each season with artists young and old, so we always have new stories to tell about our collaborators and it keeps the line looking fresh. We also strive to use eco-friendly materials whenever possible. We do not claim to be organic, but when we can we like to leave a lighter footprint if possible.
Sophie: Megan said it all up here. I would add that we design the line for kids but keeping in mind that we would actually love to wear most of the pieces ourselves. Almost like adult clothing but in a mini format.
Your latest collection, Animal Collective is your forth collection so far. Since starting out and growing in popularity for each collection has there been any valuable lessons learned along the way?
Megan: Yes, there have been many learning lessons. We learn something new everyday, we are learning from our mistakes and hopefully each season, we are getting better and better at what we do.
Sophie: We've learn that the most reliable people are Megan and I, handing things over has not proven to be very successful so we like to control everything we do, from design to production! : )
Most of us know that your biggest inspiration for Mini & Maximus is kids, but what gets your creative juices going? Can you take us a little bit behind the process of how a collection is created?
Sophie: Well well, it often starts with graphic in minds. It can be from a graffiti in the street, to a drawing my daughter did, to artwork I see on a school wall, to artists friends of mine that keep inspiring me day after day. For clothing it self, we don't feel like we follow trends too much, if there is a piece I like wearing myself, I'll find a way to translate the idea into kids clothing. Eache season we make this big wall of inspiration mainly taken from our iphones. Put it all up in one place and go from there. Colors can be hard to pic, we can't afford having too many colors so making the right decision is NOT EASY.
Can you take us through how a MIMA tee is born? How do you decide what goes on it, what color to choose, and is the screen printing something you do yourself?
Sophie: MIMA (Cut and sew) tee was born cause we just could not find a label where we could buy blanks in the full size range and fit we liked. So we went on a big journey of making our own pattern and all of the above. Now we have it dialed, we love our fit; long and fitted (more of a contemporary look). SCREEN PRINTING!!!! I took screen printing classes years ago just for fun and felt in love with the process. We print our tees and all our clothes locally at my friend's screenprinting shop.
I like it cause I have full control of the printing as I personally stand there the whole time we print to make sure it looks perfect. Not the most glamourous part of my job but it's worth it to get it down right. We are also proud to be supporting American jobs.
Your artist collabs are always very intriguing choices to me, what sort of artists inspires you? Anybody out there that you would really like to work with
Sophie: Thanks! We like to work with talented artists, young and old or should I say older than kids... Lots of them are friends of mine or friends of friends and in some cases artists I'm obsessed with.
For example, we did a collab with Mike Perry for a previous collection. I've admired his work over the years... I contacted him and he accepted. I was overjoyed to work with him. I'm really inspired by artists that have a bit of a darker side. I don't love the too sweet artwork, that's just me.
If I could, I would love to work with.... Ha, I can't tell you cause what if it happens, it won't be a surprise. : )
Your initiative Kids Will Have Their Say, is a beautiful way of letting kids art speak for itself. We were of course very proud to see our daughters drawings in this collection, and the sense of pride kids get from showing others their art is nothing but inspiring. I am imagining you are being sent young art from all over the world, how do you go about choosing what ends up on a Mini and Maximus tee?
Sophie: Well, Mika is one of the most talented artist I know. No one believe me when I tell them her age. She is truly gifted.
Yes, we get parents submitting artwork for their kids from all over the world. Thank you to the internet. Choosing is just next to impossible, it takes us weeks to choose to make sure we make the best decisions. My 5 year old daughter HAS HER SAY in the process. I value her opinion since kids her age will actually be wearing it.
I love your eco friendly awareness with your label, I have myself been in the fashion industry and know how much cheaper it is to not go down that route - what made you decide you wanted to be a label that focused on eco-friendly clothes even though it might be a more costly path? - Sharon from UK.
Megan: I read Yvon Chouinards (the founder of Patagonia) book “Let My People Go Surfing” and it was a huge inspiration to me how he runs Patagonia. We do not claim to be 100% organic, but we do try to take steps to leave a lighter footprint, some of our product are organic. All of our posters are printed on recycled paper with water-based ink, a portion of our line uses organic cotton. We try to do what we can.
Sophie: After all, "kids will have their say" and the future is theirs so let's be responsible parents and business owner for the kids future. There is a lot more we want to do as far as being eco- friendly, we will keep on challenging ourselves to make sure we have a responsible successful business.
Megan: Our Spg/Sum 13 collection is inspired by Southern California. We introduced several new styles and also linen fabric. We have added some linen blankets and pillows as well as some new accessories. We also did a really cool collaboration this season with two brothers from Santa Cruz that surf and skate and are uber-talented artists, so we can’t wait to share them with the world!
Sophie: We always keep Australia in mind when we design our lines. We love you guys and want to make sure there are some style you guys will be able to wear or decorate your house with.A big thanks to Megan & Sophie for taking the time to do an Q&A with us, and for taking us on a nice little tour behind the scenes of Mini & Maximus. Today more items from their current collection Animal Collective is hitting their online webshop shelves, so make sure you visit them for a chance to purchase some truly original clothes for your little rebels.
VISIT MINI & MAXIMUS.