TORTOISE & THE HARE
SINCE BECOMING A MOTHER, I've obviously gotten super into children's wear and am happy to have found quite a few independent designers I love, including Tortoise and the Hare Clothing. Here you'll find Harrison dressed up as the cutest little bunny, wearing the Rabbit Cap and Hemp tee with a little side pocket. The clothing is described as heirloom quality, and it really does live up to those standards. He's work both pieces often, as well as this past Easter (perfect timing!).
Keep reading to find out more from creator/designer Rosina.
1. How did you get your start in children's/infant wear? Has this always been what you've wanted to do?
When I first became a mother two years ago, I was surprised by how few children’s brands offered heirloom-quality clothing designed to be worn over multiple years by more than one child. When I was growing up, I had five younger brothers, and hand-me-down clothing wasn’t a bad thing. But it feels like perceptions are different today. We live in a world of fast fashion, and most people never think about how their clothing is made or who made it. I’d like to help change that. I love being able to ask my daughter who made some of her favorite clothes. Although my mother taught me to sew my own clothes and even create my own dress patterns while I was still in grade school, I never saw myself sewing for others, or starting a business creating my own product. It sometimes feels like something that just happened because it made practical sense. I have discovered that I enjoy the creative process, and love making good quality clothing that other mothers and families can enjoy.
2. What are your sources of inspiration?
I was raised on a thirty-acre flower farm, and grew up immersed in nature. My garden and the fields, meadows and woods of my childhood home are a constant source of inspiration and joy. The simple design of traditional Amish clothes sneaks its way into my sketchbook quite a bit, and I love to pay tribute to my Amish heritage in that way. Mostly, especially lately, I’ve been fascinated with the wonderful world of children’s literature, and am constantly finding inspiration while reading books to my daughter.
3. Describe your design process and/or your work process.
I’m a practical girl and not nearly as conceptual as the word “designer” would imply. For me, inspiration emerges when I am engaged in fulfilling work, whether it is sewing or gardening or something else that I love to do with my hands. It’s almost as though my hands have to be busy before my mind can be enchanted with a concept. Once I have an inspiration or design concept, I create a few prototypes before I can really refine the concept. Then, when I understand what will work, the design concept influences the color palette and the fabric selection. I’m fortunate to work with a team of talented seamstresses who are capable of making anything. My team is what sets Tortoise & the Hare apart. We don’t just sew the prototypes, then send them off to a factory to be produced. We actually sew every single order right here on our family farm. My seamstresses help me keep up with sewing orders, which frees me to focus on creating new designs and keep up with the small tasks that go with running a small home business. My mom is the best seamstress I know. She's also my primary patternmaker, and helps keep our production schedule on track. My husband helps me source fabric, and manages the website. Of course my two-year old daughter is a very large part of my life -- so most of my work is done with her in tow.
4. What is the mission statement for Tortoise and the Hare? Where does the name come from?
Our mission is to do our part to make the world a more beautiful place by making heirloom quality children’s clothing. Our clothing is playful but practical, and made to endure. When I first decided to take the leap of creating my own brand, I was inspired by the fable The Tortoise and the Hare. As a little girl, I first heard the fable from my grandfather. He was known in the area as a somewhat eccentric Amish artist, but to me he was the world’s best storyteller. I learned to love so many classic stories from him, and many of them involved animals and nature in some way. The fable also reminds me life takes perseverance, and requires constantly putting one foot in front of another. Success isn’t about being the biggest and best, but about doing well where you can.
5. Describe a day off.
Days off are few and far between for me right now, but I enjoy time spent with my family whenever possible. That may include enjoying coffee together, or a few hours in the park. In a few months, we will again be spending quality time together in the garden. There are few things I enjoy more than digging in the dirt and growing nutritious food.
6. What's next for your line?
I feel like I am learning so much as this business grows, and this year is off a busy start! I am still exploring what speaks to me as a designer and how that connects to what my customers love -- this will be reflected in what you will be seeing from Tortoise & the Hare this year. The next big thing is our Spring Collection release. I’m really excited about the pieces in this collection, and about adding some great hemp fabrics to our current linen, chambray and corduroy textiles. And of course, like the previous collections, it’ll all be sewn right here in our farm studio!