Before Noa, I really had fun with fashion. I love pairing pieces together and creating looks and whether it was vintage or new I always made time to invest in pieces I loved. Since she came into our world I can’t remember the last time I bought myself something but that’s ok because dressing Noa is one of my favourite things to do. I love supporting local brands that are creating really beautiful things for little ones and have been so excited about the quality, design and heart in our country. Mums and Mums-to be, I share all Noa’s finds on Instagram here. I recently discovered the world of Bunny & Mouse and mums with little girls, you just simply need to know about this!
It’s not often that you find a work of art for little ones – I mean, true craftsmanship, intricacy, quality, you know, foreever pieces. Bunny & Mouse is just this, they create hand-stitched smocked dresses, I am talking about a real labor of love – French seems, hand sewn buttons, soft fabrics and incredible detail. Bunny & Mouse made Noa’s christening gown and a beautiful candyfloss pink special occasion dress – each tells a story about the people behind the brand and took over a month to make. I love that perhaps one day these dresses will be passed onto her little girl and treasured. In a world of fast fashion, it is special to own a unique piece that took time, patience and skill to create.
The story of the brand is as beautiful. I love what the brand stands for and that it’s roots are in the community, empowering and enrichiing others through the skill. I chatted to owner Claire Mayers about the skill of smocking, how Bunny & Mouse was born, whats new, now and next for the brand!
How was Bunny & Mouse born?
My mum has always made smocked dresses for my girls. In fact my girls now wear some of the smocked dresses that my mum made me when I was their age. Every time they are in their smocked dresses, friends or strangers would comment on how beautiful they are, and if my mum could make a dress for their daughters and that’s how Bunny & Mouse was born!
It is hard to find smocked dresses as the art of smocking takes time, skill and patience. My vision was to take the skill passed on from my Mum to me and to teach other women and men how to smock! Our family has been involved helping the Valley of a Thousand Hills Community Helpers in Inchanga. I thought that if I could teach one of their support groups how to smock, that it could maybe be the start of something quite exciting. So in the middle of 2017, I began teaching smocking classes to a support group in the Inchanga township. It took the better part of a year to teach the skill of smocking, but I can honestly say that some of the smockists that we have trained in Inchanga or some of the most talented smockists out there. It has been incredible to watch their confidence grow, and sense of pride develop. Some of the people in the support group were unable to earn a living due to illness, disability or other reasons, so it really has been incredible to see their confidence grow and their love for the skill become a passion.
Whose the girl in the dress?
These dresses are for all little girls, as our slogan goes, let little girls be girls.
I have always loved beautifully hand made girls clothing, and there is nothing more lovely than seeing a little girl dressed in a beautiful frock. And these are not just dresses for special occasions, my girls wear their dresses to school most days, climbing jungle gyms, playing in the sand and just being children.
Just yesterday my daughter was running through puddles at a flower nursery in her smocked dress. These dresses are made for use, and to last a life time.
Most popular dress?
It depends on the season, but in the warmer months the strappy Charlotte dress is the most popular. The Catherine dress is more poplar in winter. But I have a sneaky feeling that our Annabelle style with the flutter sleeve (about to launch) is going to be the most popular.
Do you offer customization or bespoke orders?
Yes we do! We love creating for special occassions or creating a dress that is an extension of that little girl. At first we began with lots of florals and bright colours in our collection, but we have learnt that the pastels and the softer colours are the most popular. So our basic range is aiming towards pastels and solid colours, but should a customer require a specific print or floral, a specific style or detail, we love to make this happen!
Tell us about the hands that make the dresses?
We have an incredible group of men and woman that smock our dresses.
I met most of them through a support group in the Inchanga township. I spent months teaching and training them in the art of smocking, and now I can honestly say that most of them could teach me a thing or two about smocking. Their enthusiasm and willingness to learn this difficult art has truly been astounding.Our seamstress is a wonderful lady named Pumi and she really is gifted. Her absolute precision ensures that every Bunny & Mouse dress is of the finest quality. It’s empowering to empower others and for me the hands behind the brand makes it unique and authentic.
Smocking is a dying art, tell us about your love for the skill and how you are keeping it alive?
My love for smocking started with my mum. So i grew up loving the beauty and intricacy of smocking. And when I learnt just how much time, patience and effort goes into making each and every dress, my love for it grew even more.I couldn’t believe that it could take that long to make just one dress! The hours of smocking alone is astounding! Bunny & Mouse is keeping alive the traditional way of making smocked dresses with hand stitched smocking, hand stitched hems and french seams. Our top priority is quality.
What a gown?! Wow we had fun making that gown. We wanted it to be a master piece and I may be biased, but I feel that it is. From the pin tucks to the smocking, and the full length, we wanted every detail to be perfect.
A Christening is a momentous day, a day of blessing and a start of an amazing journey of faith for a child. We wanted to create a dress that represented that day, and that could hopefully be passed down to Noa’s daughter one day.
The sweetest candyfloss dress for Noa
All our fabrics are 100% pure cotton ranging from Liberty Cottons to 100% cotton linens.
What’s next for Bunny & Mouse?
Onward and upwards! Our main aim is to provide customers with a high quality product, grow our market and start selling into boutique stores, as the increase in demand means that I will be able to train more people to smock, and provide more jobs to those that really need them. Bunny & Mouse wants to be more than just a smocked dress company, we want to be a company that gives back and empowers those that have lost hope.
Take a look at Bunny & Mouse here. Their collection is designed for 1-6years old and next year they will launch their 6-12 month range!