UPCYCLED, VINTAGE + SUSTAINABLE BREASTFEEDING CLOTHING
Read our interview below with the fabulous Jen from Moon Mama Vintage as she fills us in on all things fashion, vintage and motherhood! (Jen had a sleeping Arthur next to her during this, talk about multi-tasking! #mumgoals)
‘So I thought hang on if I am having to think about this there must be other mums who are thinking and feeling the same.’
Hey Jen! Tell us a bit about yourself and Moon Mama?
Hi, I’m Jen, I’m 36 and I live in a little village in the North of Scotland. Moon Mama is a vintage shop that is for everyone but specifically with a focus on being mother-hood friendly so whether that is in pregnancy – I source maternity wear or whether it is just easy to wear vintage that you can incorporate easily into your modern mum wardrobe. There are a few wild cards thrown in there sometimes when I see some things that I can’t resist sourcing but I do generally try to keep it all quite easy to wear. I also try sourcing things that are suitable for breastfeeding so with buttons or zips etc. And I am also working with my seamstress about ways in which we can alter vintage clothing to be breastfeeding friendly as well.
So, there is something in my shop for everyone, I think. I stock a lot of bright colours and fun things and I hope they appeal to everyone. But I do like to be specifically be there for mums to have other options, to still be able to wear vintage and maybe to help mums who may have lost their way with styling a little bit after having kids. Just a little bit of fun inspiration that you can still have fun with fashion even in pregnancy and motherhood.
What sparked the idea behind Moon Mama Vintage?
I have a little boy called Arthur who is going to be 3 in February. When I was pregnant, I refused to buy any maternity clothes because I couldn’t find anything I liked. Our nearest big city is Inverness and we don’t have that many great shops. I ended up wearing a lot of hand me downs from friends and family which was lovely but they weren’t necessarily my style and then as I ended up with a huge bump at the end of pregnancy, I was wearing a lot of my husband’s t-shirts and jackets. And I didn’t really care at the time but I know that I felt bleurgh and just didn’t really feel great at all.
After having Arthur, he would only really sleep in the sling so I just ended up wearing comfy stuff that I could put the sling over and then because I needed to breastfeed it was just breastfeeding T-shirts and then I got a bit lazy, and a bit bored and started to feel really lost. I think it maybe takes a year or two years to come out of the labyrinth of becoming a new mum and when I started feeling myself again I thought hang on a second I’m really into fashion and style and I want to have fun with my clothes again. I started shopping again at charity shops and buying vintage clothes but was aware I still needed them to be functional for breastfeeding. So I thought hang on if I am having to think about having to hunt for this then there must be other mums into vintage clothing who are thinking and feeling the same. And the idea for Moon Mama was born!!!
What is your favourite vintage piece that you own?
It’s actually something really simple. When I was at Uni, I still didn’t really know who I was and what my style was so I took lots of inspiration from lots of quirky friends and that’s when I started exploring vintage. I went to Uni at De Montfort in Leicester and there was this really cute little vintage shop and I bought a 1970’s brown leather saddle bag and I just love it. I still have it and use it almost every day and my husband go’s nut’s because it’s falling apart, I really should get it repaired but I just love it and can’t part with it. Even though I have since bought about 5 new bags I still always go back to that one. Its so old and scratched and marked and stained but it’s just so practical so it’s nothing particularly exciting but it’s just a piece that is totally me. I take it on nights out, I wear it every day and it’s been a vintage staple in my wardrobe.
You started Moon Mama just before lockdown, what difficulties did you face/have to overcome? Or where there any positives that you think maybe helped?
I decided at the tail end of last year that I would just go for it and I had set the end of Feb/early March as my start date and then lockdown happened. And initially I thought this is silly and I’m not going to do it, I need to hang fire. But then I was really lucky to get in contact with Emily and Georgie who own Medley Vintage and Peony Vintage and they are the curators of a Virtual Vintage Market. I got in touch and they had launched this platform for lockdown for lot’s of vintage traders who couldn’t trade physically like they usually did can now trade through this platform. I hadn’t traded at all yet but I was really keen to be involved and that was just an amazing launch pad for me to get out there and be seen. I am still a part of it now, I have done 4 so far.
I think everyone was shopping differently in lockdown, shopping more online virtually and getting involved. So, on one hand I think it was really good as I got more exposure because of lockdown. However it was very difficult not being able to get out there and source things and where I live there is not a huge amount of options for sourcing as it is but now I was having to source online where I was unable to see and feel the garments and fabric; you are just going by photos so that was definitely challenging.
Why do you feel it is important to raise awareness of vintage clothing and get more people buying and wearing it?
I’ve always loved old clothing, there is something beautiful about old things that already have had a history. My husband and I are both really into being sustainably minded and I have just always got more and more into vintage and pre-loved. And there are just so many clothes being produced. There are so many cheap high street brands now that are just churning out stuff and hardly any of it gets worn and it just ends up in landfill. The world just cannot sustain it and I think people are now looking for more options that are more sustainable, ethically hand made options.
My take on trying to reduce my carbon footprint is by only wearing old clothes. I want to show people how you can easily do that. You don’t have to spend a fortune, it doesn’t have to be fancy, you can just slot it in to your modern wardrobe. You can make old clothes look quite modern, give them a wash and repair and style them up in a different way to how they would have been worn in the 60’s and it’s like a whole new thing. So there is a bit of magical-ness about the history of it and something romantic about the notion of giving something a new life but it’s also got the very serious point of reducing our clothing waste – manufacturing of clothes, the pollution that that causes. And just trying to get everyone to realise there are other options out there. There are so many good clothes already out there, already made and if you just try and find the time to find something you love it’s so worth not going to go and buy something new.
Do you wear any non vintage brands and if so what are your faves?
Yes definitely, I probably just got in to a style rut I think with being a bit of a Topshop girl. I hate to admit it but as I said Inverness doesn’t have a huge plethora of shops so I would always just default to Topshop. Now that I am 36 I think I cannot go in there and get away with this. But yeh we have an H&M, a Next, a Topshop and a Marks and Spencers, that’s about it so I was always just Topshop and sometimes M&S. I kick myself that I didn’t explore the internet a bit more and see what other brands were out there. But 2020 I promised myself that I was not buying anything new and I haven’t! Even the last few years if I did see anything in there I liked I would just wait a few weeks and it would appear on Ebay so I was kind of being a high street fan but buying them pre-loved. I still do that to mix in with the vintage stuff, it’s handy to have modern pieces for styling but I will only buy them pre-loved.
What has been the highlight in your journey with Moon Mama so far?
Oh, there’s been so many! Getting involved with a Virtual Vintage Market, Emily and Georgie are just 2 of the nicest women who I have ever met and they are so passionate about what they do and so kind and encouraging to all the vintage sellers and I just feel so lucky to be involved with them. I have also just made some really great friends through it, other vintage traders, some of my customers are friends now. So yeh the Instagram community, I know social media sometimes gets a bad rep but I feel like I have made some life-long friends there. And people in other countries who I know I have an invite to go and stay with, it can open up so many doors to you to people who you would have otherwise never have met.
Do you have any exclusive juicy gossip for us about anything we can expect to come in the near future with Moon Mama?
Juicy gossip oooh. So I guess that I am hoping to expand the range, I started with just dresses. Then people said they would like me to look at all vintage clothing so I am now looking to incorporate accessories, jewellery, footwear. I have a notion to start sourcing vintage bags that could be used for your baby change bag so that everything you might need for your outfit could be sourced in vintage. And also lot’s of collaborations with amazing breastfeeding mums and other breastfeeding companies are hopefully in the pipeline as well. So yeh lot’s of exciting things in the future!
What is your best piece of advice for mums out there?
Trust your instincts because no one knows your baby like you do. And in this day and age when you have information coming at you from all angles and everyone has an opinion, it’s really difficult sometimes to not listen to unsolicited advice and comments that are not helpful. So if you can just block out the white noise or what other people think you should be doing and you can just try to relax into your role. Don’t worry if your baby needs to be in a sling, or if they want to sleep on you, it’s such a short time of their life and your life and you will never regret cuddling your baby, or feeding them to sleep if it's easier. Follow your instinct, we have them for a reason and they are never wrong. And just try to enjoy it and not let other people’s comments worry you or stress you out.
We have had to stick up for how we are doing certain things and I now feel confident in doing that but not everybody does. I find it really sad when some mums say ‘I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing’ but you definitely are, you love your baby, follow your instincts.
Where do you see yourself and Moon Mama in 10 years?
I would love if I was still going and had grown and had a website. I would love to have a physical shop, I don’t know if that would take the form of just being motherhood, or whether it would be a regular vintage shop. Maybe carry on the maternity clothing online and have a small section of the shop dedicated to that. But I would love more time to work on it and not go back to my old career as a teacher. I want to make this into something and I can see it having a shop and just growing its internet presence. And being able to offer more ranges as Arthur gets older! So fingers crossed! 10 years from now, Hester I hope we are still talking 10 years from now about our businesses!
Me too Jen!!