Tantrum XYZ interview with Alice and Georgie (June 2017)
INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDERS OF DOTTY DUNGAREES
Alice Goldsmith and Georgie Parr talk about setting up a kidswear label + which nation has the best-dressed kids
Dotty Dungarees is a British company set up by friends Alice Goldsmith and Georgie Parr in 2013, when they realised the kind of soft, classic dungarees they wore as children were not available to buy anywhere. Their dungaree range is unisex and designed to last (turn up the trousers to reveal the cute AF dotty lining, adjust the shoulder straps as your child grows), and has picked up the plaudits in Mini Vogue, the Junior Design Awards and the Dad Network Awards too. We talk to the founders about working together, how to set up a kidswear label and which nation has the best-dressed kids...
1. How did the two of you meet?
We met in our first jobs. We were both fresh out of university and we joined a small company that did research and investigations for big multinationals. They sent us off to weird and wonderful destinations like Outer Mongolia and Moscow. We have worked together in every job we have had ever since.
2. What made you set up Dotty Dungarees?
We had talked about setting up a business together for ages but the time had never quite been right, nor the idea! And then we had children of our own and, having been brought up in dungarees ourselves, we wanted them to wear them too. We couldn’t find what we were after: the fabrics were too stiff and the designs weren’t practical or, if they were, they weren’t that nice! So we decided to create our own: dungarees that parents love because they are classic and practical, and which children won’t take off because they are super comfortable and make them feel like the explorers that they are.
3. What or who are your design inspirations?
We love classic children’s clothes which are neither too prim nor too trendy, clothes that make children feel free and encourage them to spend hours outside on wild and magical adventures - from crawling to climbing trees. So our designs are always classic, timeless cuts which aren’t too fussy. We use great quality fabrics that will stand the test of time but are soft enough for children to want to wear again and again.
4. Did you have any ‘this is crazy, what are we doing?’ moments?
All the time! Since we launched we have had 4 more children between us - and we already had one each so we have 6 children of 4 or under. Life is slightly chaotic! And even without that, launching a business is so much more full-on than we could ever have imagined. In a way I’m glad we didn’t know or we might not have gone for it! But it’s so worth it: however frantic life is, we feel so lucky to be able to manage our own time and to be able to be very present with the children but also have something else to focus on. And it is a huge privilege to be able to do something that we genuinely believe in. The thought of childhood memories being filled with dotty dungarees is just lovely.
5. What tips do you have for people who want to start their own kidswear label?
Just go for it - there is never a perfect time and there are always a thousand reasons not to do it or not to be ready enough, but it’s so much worse to regret not having tried. And ask for advice - it costs nothing and hearing other people’s experiences totally changed the way we approached certain aspects of our business.
6. What do you do when you are not working?
Right now, it’s all about the kids when we aren’t working. We both live in cities so any time off is spent with them in the countryside, in the UK or abroad.
7. Which nation has the best dressed kids?
I (Georgie) was brought up in France and get given the most gorgeous clothing from French labels - I especially love their knits. Their designs are always so beautiful and timeless. I have kept lots of them aside as they are too lovely to give away.
8. What is the worst kind of kidswear available now?
I’m not a fan of things which are either too adult or too fashionable. Without ever wanting clothing to be twee, I think it’s important for kids to be kids and to have clothes which don’t try to be too formal or too hip or too grown up. Childhood is such a short time in their lives - you really want them to make the most of being children and have clothing that reflects that.
9. Do you think parents are moving towards more gender-neutral clothing for their children?
I’m not sure to be honest - we sell a lot of pink! We started with the idea of being entirely unisex and I still love the idea of it; I hate the thought that girls are forced to wear pink and boys blue. Our kids both wear lots of gender-neutral clothing but there is no doubt that our own girls have a massive soft spot for pinks and sparkles. Even when ‘helping’ me pack for a recent trip, Eloise (my two-year-old) pulled out only the clothes in my cupboard which were pink. And if she loves pink, then she should wear it! I don’t want to be forcing her into gender-neutral clothing just for the sake of it
10. What is the secret to getting good photos of kids modelling your clothes?
I have no idea! Our photographer (Amy Smyth) is a magician. I have never been able to take a halfway decent photo so I just don’t know how she does it. She perfectly captures the adventurous and free spirit of the brand every time, which is nothing short of a miracle when your models are babies and toddlers
11. What is the best-selling style of Dotty Dungarees?
Otto stripe dungarees - classic blue butcher stripe dungarees with a dotty turn up. They were part of our first collection and they are still our best seller today. They are equally popular with boys and girls, across the ages, and I can’t imagine us ever not stocking them.
12. What can you tell us about the new collection?
This summer we have gone for brights and stripes! Yellow is such an underrated colour and we have dungaree shorts and dresses in a bright seersucker which have been super-popular already. We also have red and blue seersuckers which are light and perfect for hot summer days, alongside our classic collection of denims for the chillier ones: dotty denim, pale blue and pale pink stripes.
We have also literally just launched a babywear collection for newborn to one-year-olds. These dresses, rompers and vests are made of 100% combed cotton and are designed for the sleepy early days, right up to crawling and first steps. The fabrics are incredibly soft and give total freedom of movement, and they come packaged in a cotton slip bag so they also make excellent newborn gifts. They are made with our signature dotty fabric so are still very much part of the ’dotty’ family.