We’re seeing a seismic shift in the way corporations conduct business due to COVID-19. In an effort to protect their employees and help avoid the spread of the virus, companies have quickly enacted new policies. As a new business and designer, how has this shift affected your business?
This crisis has created a lot of stress for business owners, myself included, but I remain so grateful for my health, and how we’ve been able to utilize our resources to produce sustainable face masks for consumers, several preschools, and even the National Institute of Health! Along with the predictable delayed shipping and production times, I, unfortunately, had to put an onboarding process on hold with a well-known department store. There has also been a big gap between the “Add to Cart” and “Reached Check Out” rate to actual sales – which is understandable and unavoidable in uncertain times like these.
Do you feel that a rhythm has come into place balancing motherhood and Emilia George?
I think it will always be something I aspire to have. The thing is, I also still have a full-time job at the United Nations. So it is really hard to figure out how not to burn out every day while maintaining my professional self, my hands-on motherhood style, and my love child “Emilia George” that I build with my heart, sweat, and soul. I find myself consciously giving up on something every single day. I often feel like it’s “all work and no play”, and I question myself whenever my days go by so fast and I realize I didn’t spend as much time with George as I wanted to. But I also pat myself on the back and never hesitate to acknowledge myself for what I’ve been managing to do. I haven’t found that balance and the beautiful rhythm yet. That’s why I always find inspiration in other mompreneurs’ stories.
What inspired Emilia George?
Working at the UN inspired me in a number of ways, especially when I met refugee women (some pregnant and some mothers already) in Bidibidi refugee camps in Northern Uganda. I have always had this innate passion for helping others, and pairing that with my entrepreneurial spirit, I knew I wanted to do something good for motherhood. When I recognized a huge gap in the market for professional workwear that was also sustainable for expecting mothers, I was inspired to create a line of professional mom-wear with thoughtful details using innovative, sustainable fabrics to empower women. Pregnancy is a beautiful moment when femininity is blossoming, but expectant (and postpartum) women in formal work environments are often forced to sacrifice quality, comfort, and style.
My experiences as a mother to my son, George, have also lent inspiration to my work and my founding of the Fabrics Matter™ Movement. After finding that George’s skin became irritated from contact with my clothes that contained harsh dyes, I was inspired to raise awareness for the importance of fabrics, not only for baby clothes but for the mothers’s clothes too. Fabrics matter for pregnancy and postpartum because what the mom wears, the little one ultimately ends up wearing as well.
Can you tell us about the new collection?
The Fabrics Matter™ Collection is designed with sustainable fabrics like bamboo, cupro, and even post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. These dresses are crafted to be breathable, bright, and beautiful for the summer months. From the quintessential white summer dress, the Babette, to the brilliant Elizabeth Dress, to the gorgeous flowing Edita Dress, this collection is a celebration of womanhood during this time of revitalization and renewal. All of the dresses seamlessly transition from the office, to after work, to special occasions with comfort and confidence. The collection ranges from $179-$190 and is available on EmiliaGeorge.com and the Mother.ly online shop. The most important product that speaks to Fabrics Matter ™ is our face masks. It is no coincidence that we’ve been featured in Vogue, Forbes, People, and so many media outlets and that we’ve also received so many raving reviews. One customer with asthma thanked us for providing the only mask that she could handle. That means so much!
Which pieces from your collection do you recommend for postpartum and breastfeeding?
The Zena Dress and the Elizabeth Dress both have hidden zippers for easy access to breastfeeding, and they are both made of post-consumer Coca-Cola bottles! The Oliva Shirt has been one of the bestsellers too! It’s so elegant and flattering with zippers that enable moms who return to work to pump or breastfeed easily. The fabrics are so stretchy and comfortable, which are so important to women whose bodies are recovering from labour or C-section.
What’s your best-selling piece for pregnant women?
The Zena Dress and the Selina Dress from the Resort 2020 collection have been pregnant women’s favourite! We just launched the new collection, and we already see a huge interest in the Irene dress and the Edita dress! They are so classy and beautiful and have truly changed any negative connotations associated with maternity wear.
As a business, you’re experiencing a very new reality that is intense and challenging. What’s your best advice for keeping a happy mental health?
Pay close attention to how you feel and be very honest about it. It is a challenging time for everyone, at varying degrees. Some have lost jobs, while some have lost loved ones. Some people may never have experienced circumstances like this in their lifetime and are not sure how to best deal with it emotionally. But I believe the best policy here is to be very honest with yourself and with those around you, in person or virtually. Don’t hold it in and don’t be bogged down by pride, ego, or insecurities. It only takes one pair of empathetic ears for you to feel instantly better.
Lastly, who is your Mother Muse?
The moms I met at the world’s largest refugee camp Bidibidi in Northern Uganda. I am inspired by so many women on a daily basis, such as working moms’ struggles, especially during the pandemic. But if I can retell the stories those refugee women shared with me, from being beaten by their husbands and forced to eat garbage to escaping from South Sudan to Uganda and being raped by soldiers and having their husbands and sons killed in front of them, I honestly cannot imagine the level of mental strength they possess to continue on and make the best of the chance of merely surviving. I met them in 2018, and I’ve never stopped thinking about those women since. May we, on this side of the world, all have half of their strength.