Get to know...
Alyssa Kerbel, founder of mini mioche, ethically-made and organic fashion basics for babies and kids, and momma of two. Alyssa, recently featured in a photoshoot with Trish Mennell Photography, talks to us about all things motherhood, her inspiration behind the brand and so much more.
Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a mother? Biggest joys? Biggest challenges?
A: I think everyone wants to feel like they are making a difference in someone else’s life and with motherhood, you get to experience that every day with your kids. Biggest joys for me are when you see/feel your impact on them in a positive way – like when you teach them something new, you see them be really kind to someone else, or you see them just generally becoming the human you really want to raise. Biggest challenges are when you’re not necessarily feeling like the difference you are making is so ‘positive’ and you start questioning your ability to do this job effectively and then you have to check yourself and be like, everyone has good days and bad days – that’s part of the journey.
Q: You just opened a store in LA - congrats!! So you now have 3 retail locations and an ecommerce business and you also design your own brand. What have you learned about balancing motherhood with your career?
A: In referring to motherhood and career, someone once told me that you can have both but you just can’t necessarily have both in balance all the time. Everything is a trade-off. I have made a lot of sacrifices in my personal and family life in the short term for my business. That has been my choice. The way I try to maintain some semblance of balance is by scheduling in ‘quality’ time with my family. That’s not time spent grocery shopping and running errands. That’s time spent on vacation or at the cottage, time going for neighbourhood walks, taking my daughter to a workout class with me (she’s 11 now) or cheering her on in her x-country meet. Making sure to schedule and spend time doing things we enjoy makes me feel less guilty about having less time in general to spend together because of my work.
Q: How have your kids influenced your career? Do they have any interest in fashion, design, etc.?
A: I started mm just 6 weeks after my daughter was born. She was definitely the inspiration for the brand – mostly because I wanted to dress her in a very similar way to how I dress (very casually in mostly high quality basics in muted, neutral colours). As she has grown up and our customer’s kids have also grown up, we have introduced bigger sizes – first 7 and 8 and now this past fall, we started offering sizes 10 and 12 in our most popular unisex core basics. I don’t think my kids have any interest in the business at this point (although my daughter has helped out at our warehouse on occasion) and I would never push them into an industry or want them involved in the business unless that was truly what they wanted for themselves. It’s not their dream and it sure isn’t easy – it has to be a passion.
Q: How did you come up with your kids’ names?
A: My husband and I were both into the idea of British surnames for our kids. Emerson was the only name we agreed on for our daughter (we call her Emi) and we both just really liked Weston for our son.
Q: How has your style changed since having kids? Who and what influences your personal style and also the style and aesthetic for Mini Mioche?
A: My style really hasn’t changed much since having kids. If anything it has perhaps become even more casual. I live in premium denim and great, simple, well-made basics. I love a good basic sweatshirt, jersey top or simple knit in a neutral colour. For spring/summer, I love being able to throw on one great piece and be done, so I love a good romper or easy dress. I’m not into loud prints, graphics or anything that isn’t comfortable. My goal when I get dressed in the morning is to look good and be comfy (in equal measure) and I don’t think one has to be at the expense of the other. I think that opening the store in California and spending more time out there has been influencing my style lately. I have always loved the casual, laid-back aesthetic of LA and now I have a good excuse to be around it more.
Q: Go-to family restaurant in Toronto?
A: We don’t really go out to eat that much as a family. I guess maybe Pizza Libretto would be our go-to family restaurant but if I’m being honest, it would probably be Uber Eats or the Food Court at Dufferin Mall. ☺.
Q: Fave family vacation?
A: We have been very fortunate to be able to travel a lot with the kids right from the get-go (my daughter took 22 flights in her first year)! My favourite family trips have been to Europe (France and Italy). We typically go with my parents, who are very close to my kids and I love that they get to spend that time together. We also love ski vacations as it’s a really fun way to spend time together outside and being active as a family.
Q: How do you find time for yourself? What’s your ideal girls’ night?
A: I MAKE time for myself. Here is something I have learned, you have time for the things you make time for and schedule in. I have a standing monthly girls dinner that is booked in my calendar for the rest of 2019. I am going away for a spa weekend with a girlfriend this weekend. I just booked a girls weekend away in the fall. I look at my calendar, I figure out what I can do and when I can do it, I book it in (and let my husband know lol) and then I figure it out. If you don’t plan it, it won’t happen. And time to myself and with my friends is very important to me. That time away ultimately makes me a better wife, parent and leader.
Q: Do you have any new or exciting things coming down the pipeline for 2019??
A: For fall 2019, we are going to be introducing some new products and fabrics, including a bamboo collection and our own mm knit accessories. For spring 2020, there just might be something ‘bigger’ in the works but you’ll have to stay tuned for the official announcement. ;-)
Q: Any last words of wisdom for our fellow new moms? Do you have a favourite quote or mantra that you live by?
A: Be kind to yourself. Being a mom is hard. Juggling motherhood and a career is hard (for everyone). No matter what it looks like from the outside, everyone is struggling to some degree. So don’t beat yourself up (because that doesn’t make it better), recognize you are doing the best you can and that’s all any of us can strive for.