Mandi lives in Sydney where she’s mum to two wonderful girls who adore cupcakes and fairy dresses. Before children she worked in marketing, public relations and event management, both here in Australia and in the U.S. While Mandi happily mothballed her corporate suits for more mum-friendly wardrobe options after her second daughter’s arrival, she refused to let motherhood sap her passion for style and design. After fielding constant questions from friends and acquaintances about where she’d discovered this or that, she decided to share her knack for finding incredibly stylish things, wherever they may be hiding, with the rest of us.
When I became a mum, my style focus changed from finding things for myself to sourcing fabulous finds for my girls. I knew there were designers in Australia creating unique toys, children’s furniture and clothing, but I couldn’t find one place that brought it all together. So I created Babyology. Every day we find something new to love and here are our current picks from our favourite homegrown designers.
Naomi Terblanche’s Thula Thula label represents everything Babyologists love about handmade vintage style. Naomi’s love of vintage fashion started with a toy Singer and a grandmother who favoured 1940s patterns. After her first baby three years ago she launched Thula Thula on Etsy and began creating superb pieces for children.
“When I started, people said there was no point, particularly for boys, because the clothes would just get wrecked! But I found elements of vintage designs were very practical for children’s play, for example patches on elbows.” Naomi added designs for tiny babies after her own son was born at just 25 weeks.
“It was hard not being able to touch him. As a mum, you just want to be able to do something and the thing I could do was dress him.” Her 25/40 week preemie range includes hats, wrap tops and suits with side openings for lines and tubes.
The details are divine — delicate pleats, fabric-covered buttons and sumptuous fabrics. “I’m inspired by old movies, fabrics I find and what I see when people-watching. There’s always something new to learn and I’m always looking for ways to do things differently — a pocket is not just pocket!” Pockets show off Naomi’s craftsmanship, from beautifully draped cuffed pockets on her tulip shorts to tailored patches with button details on boys’ brown corduroys.
Clobber for Kids
Emma Strybosch, the Melbourne designer behind Knuffle Kid, creates stunning original fabrics for each new collection. Inspired by indoor games and Enid Blyton, the 2010 “Rainy Days” range features board game prints and the exceptionally beautiful Moonface Cape. We also love the Frances long sleeved tee with its jaunty patterned silk tie at the neck.
Pinafores are great for little girls and none are sweeter than those from Bluebird & Honey. We love the bunny and elephant appliqués and funky matching brooches that come with each pinni. Bluebird & Honey’s homespun style extends to divine décor pieces.
Somewhere Stylish to Sleep
Sure, kangaroos and koalas are cute, but we prefer to decorate the nursery with different creatures. Make a statement with Australian merino felted wool cushions and blankets from Etsy seller Olofsdaughters. Spots, birds and flowers are superb and the baby blankets are a favourite. For something different, check out their kooky squid print.
Find woodland charm at Cocoon Couture. Wooden room accessories team with beanbags and wall art while the magnificent Enchanted Tree makes a statement with its retro wallpaper patterns.
More critters abound at Bholu. Nursery coordinates including linen, cushions, rugs and nightlights come in vibrant red, orange, French blue and olive green. Bholu supports artisans in India and traditional embroidery techniques feature on their stunning range.
Gypsy Kids’ fabulous linen and fashion is inspired by traditional clothing from around the world, including kimonos, kaftans and cheongsam. The vivid red or blue paisley cotton linen is pure luxury for little ones.
There is much to love at Love Mae — their unique fabric wall decals are washable, reusable and are perfect for children who like to rearrange! Nature designs are charming, but the dress-up dolls are truly irresistible.
Time to Play
Get out the knitting needles and tackle a Miss Pepito project. These beautiful, simple knitted dolls come with clothing patterns from berets to Mary-Janes, pyjamas to ponchos.
If crochet is your talent, RosieOK has both patterns and toys from zany bowling pin buddies to bold rabbits, pigs and bears.
Clothing favourite Eeni Meeni Miini Moh also have lovely soft toys and rag dolls in signature muted tones (think mushroom, blush, eggplant and steely blues).
Other Goodies to Share
Get children folding and pasting with adorable printable party invitations, stationery, goodie bags, cupcake wrappers and more from Sydney-based Etsy shop Go Make Me. From retro-inspired robots to a sassy handbag and hungry aliens, Go Make Me creations can be printed at home.
If it’s quirky you’re after, stop by Pocket Carnival, where Melbourne designer Penny Eager creates gorgeous handmade purses, pencil cases and cards.
Finish with a journey to Tummy Mountain for charming original illustrations of children. There’s a touch of humour about the paintings — we love the little girls with chocolate-smeared faces in “What Cake?”.
When it comes to things for kids, I want fun, stylish, safe and quality products and anything handmade with love is extra special. Enjoy our Aussie offerings!
Thank you, Mandi, for your cute and kid-friendly recommendations.
What’s your favorite Etsy shop for children? Leave a link in the comments below.