Stumbling upon the personal Instagram account of Brandy Mercredi, Toronto ethical clothing designer, you feel sure you’ve found a down-to-earth mom who’d laugh with you about real mom life, while also sharing where she found her favourite clothing staples. Then, you check out the IG account for her clothing line, Franc, and you know it’s true. She’s one of those rare women who shows us we can be chic as a mom and perhaps style isn’t complicated after all.
Here, we’re picking her brain to find ways we can keep the KonMari vibe going in our wardrobe while still cultivating that cool, yet down-to-earth mom style that we so want. Brandy’s also shared her take on living well in motherhood, including this nugget of self-care goodness: you can’t be a mother 100% of the time.
As long time fans of the clothing you designed via mini mioche, we were excited to learn you launched your own brand, Franc. We love our kids but we want to be at least as sustainably stylish as them! In a nutshell, tell us a bit about yourself and your recently launched line of women’s basics.
I am a fashion designer by trade and have worked with small to large business designing clothes for about 13 years now. Currently, my days are spent designing clothes for/growing/running my dream business of ethically made (in Toronto) women’s basics named, Franc. And of course raising and chauffeuring around my 7 and 8 year old and managing our household.
We can relate to the chauffeuring. As the kids get older, it certainly does feels like our roles in their lives begin to change. What do you find the most challenging aspect of being a mother? What have you struggled with? What do you still struggle with?
It’s hard to think of one thing because, let’s be real there are LOTS. Raising kids is ever evolving and different things become a real struggle at different times. Currently with a 7-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy I’d have to say the biggest struggle is letting them have the independence they are craving, while still holding the reins semi tightly. Which sounds so much more eloquent then what it is: them arguing (aka talking back) and me realizing some of those moments require me to let them handle things in their own way and see how they handle it.
How has being a mother influenced your own style?
It allowed me to take stock of what was actually important in my closet and what really made me feel good to wear. Motherhood changes a lot of things, but for me I feel more than just changing my body it helped changed my mindset to see things through no-nonsense eyes…style very much included.
Motherhood sure does love to give us lessons in practicality. What lessons did your own mother teach you about style?
Wear what makes you feel good.
Good advice. Now we need some from you. Ever since reading your ‘Rule Of Three’ style tip, we feel like we have one of the secrets to looking put together, no matter what we are wearing. What are a few other simple style tips that moms can follow to look great?
Focus on fit, I personally feel like no matter what your style is and no matter what trends are happening if you focus on clothes that fit and flatter your unique body you will always look great.
Speaking about style, we want to know more about your ethical clothing line for women, Franc. What was the inspiration for your brand?
I have always felt that when you are shopping you should only buy things you need and love, and from my personal experience the things I was always needing and loving were good quality basics that aren’t that basic (and wishing they would be ethically made).
Since this was something I was always hunting for and never quite found (or I’d find an item only to never be able to find it for sale again) Franc sort of evolved from there. I wanted to make clothes that could be the basis of a wardrobe or the star, clothes that were made to work for everyday lives of real women.
We love the idea of cultivating a sustainable wardrobe with everyday basics but are wondering…how can we minimize our wardrobes without looking like we’re wearing the same outfit every single day?
This is a great question. Also not looking like everyone else, because really that’s no fun either. I think the key is first staying true to clothes that fit your body and then building your outfit from there. Adding in fun maybe even trendy items (even if it’s just accessories and shoes) to pump and change things up.
Really you could probably wear the same basic white crew neck tee shirt 5 days a week, style it differently everyday (tucked in, untucked, under a strappy dress, with a handkerchief around your neck, etc) and most people wouldn’t even notice you wore the same basic top for 5 days straight. It’s all the little details: the fit first, the styling and then adding in your unique personality, that makes an outfit different and stand out.
Tell us why you decided to embrace slow fashion.
Honestly I just got tired of going to my closet and getting frustrated with having nothing to wear, even though my closet was stocked full.
What advice would you give to a mother looking to launch her own ethical clothing brand?
Research make contacts, learn as much as you can, reach out for help whenever you can (even though it’s hard) and learn as many skills yourself as possible.
What did you find out about the fashion industry that surprised you while working on launching Franc?
I had worked in the fashion industry for so many years in some shape or form prior to Franc’s launch that really nothing about the industry surprised me. Which is also something that held me back from fulfilling my dream of launching my own business for so long – so there’s also that.
A new business, two young children and just general day-to-day adulting can be overwhelming. How do you carve out space to care for yourself ?
I tend to eat pretty well and I practice yoga or workout everyday, which usually means I am up way before everyone else in the house to fit in my to practice but it’s worth it to fit that self care into my everyday.
We always like to ask this next question, because let’s face it, we’re all trying to do our best. What does it mean to you to live well in motherhood? Tell us where you feel you are rocking it, at least, most of the time.
I think to live well in motherhood you can’t be a mother 100% of the time. Which sounds so contradictory, but I personally I know I feel my best and am the best mom to my own kids when I also feel fulfilled, useful and calm and to get all that I need to make sure I am wearing my other hats, not just my super cool mom one.