Meet the first childrenswear designer in our DA+FE Spotlight Series:
Colorful, playful prints @ the Mixed Up Clothing Headquarters . . .
Creative Director of Mixed Up Clothing, Sonia Smith-Kang
Mixed Up Clothing has collaborated w/ Taye Diggs and received his Chocolate Star Award . . .
Mixed Up Clothing’s collaboration w/ Garcelle Beauvais + Sebastian Jones for their book, I am Mixed . . .
A few fun prints from this season’s collection . . .
1. Peasant Top 2. Pink Sugar Skulls Bloomers by Mixed Up Clothing
Senorita Dress by Mixed Up Clothing
15 Questions w/ Sonia Smith-Kang of Mixed Up Clothing
1. What Inspired you to create Mixed Up Clothing?
Growing up I was always asked “What are you?” I have always been answering that question and in turn, teaching others about what it is to be multicultural. As a multicultural adult, I married someone of a different culture and had kids. So I basically just blended my love of teaching about different cultures with my love of sewing and created Mixed Up Clothing.
2. Did you go to school for design? If so, where?
I went to school to become a registered nurse. I was a registered nurse for 15 years. While I was a nurse, I became a teacher, teaching others about how different cultures react to being in a hospital setting. Mixed Up Clothing is just another step in that teaching process. I use clothing as my vehicle to teach.
3. Tell us about your ideal customer . . .
My ideal customer is a mom who loves to teach her children about different cultures; it’s anybody who has an interest in exploring the world, and teaching our little mini global citizens about someone else, in hopes of accepting and learning about others.
4. What advice would you give someone wanting to start a clothing line?
Don’t be afraid. Find your passion and don’t chase after the trends. Find a message and what you want your clothes to be about, and don’t veer from that.
5. What inspires you? What inspires your designs?
My inspiration always comes down to teaching and educating others. The inspiration for my designs comes from finding a fun print or fabric that has a cultural feel to it, and then I will learn about the culture. That’s what inspires me; finding out about someone else, and learning about a different ethnicity or culture.
6. What has been your biggest challenge starting/running your business?
Definitely money and time. As a mother of 4 and a wife first, I find that trying to be an entrepreneur and make it all happen is very difficult . . . . and finding the money. There’s money out there. It’s just taking the time to find out where the money is and how you can get that, and use it in your business. If not, you just move a little slower, and that’s where the time comes in.
7. What would you consider to be one of your greatest moments or achievements related to your line/ business?
The smart thing to say is that it has to do with publicity . . . being on the TODAY Show or being in a big magazine, but I would say that the happiest I was, was when I saw somebody in a mall wearing my clothes. To me that is somebody who gets what you are doing, digs it and wants it for their kids.
8. How would you describe your style in 3 words?
Relaxed. Vibrant. Effortless.
9. How often do you add new pieces to your line?
I create 2 seasons/year. Spring and Summer.
10. Describe a typical day in your life:
A typical day starts at 6am for me. Monday-Friday it’s about getting the kids up and off to school. Then I come back and shower, do emails, check social media and prioritize my day. I then drive to my office in downtown LA. Once there, I start on my To Do list. My day consists of getting orders out, sourcing, putting out production fires, accounting and working on display and marketing. By 2:30 I am picking up the kids and doing their activities until about 6pm, then it’s dinner, bath, and bed for them. After they go down I go back to work from 9pm-12 midnite.
11. Looking 3-5 years out, what changes would you like to see, or can you forsee any big changes in your industry?
I would like to see retailers giving indie designers more of a chance. I think the public really loves the underdog, and roots for them, so I would like to see big retailers respond to that. As for big changes I see in the industry, I definitely see a trend to where the person who did not go to school for design can now create something and navigate their way through the industry and make it. You just have to have a plan. You don’t necessarily have to have the educational background to make it.
12. Where do you manufacture your line? Do you manufacture domestically or abroad?
I work with 4 different manufacturers. They are all domestic. I like to be able to see, feel and touch what they are doing.
13. What can we expect to see from Mixed Up Clothing in the future?
I’ve been asked to do a mommy and me line. I may entertain that. But for me, it might just be branching out and doing clothes for bigger girls. Right now I do sizes 0-7, I’m considering expanding to include 9-11 in the future.
14. Where can we purchase Mixed Up Clothing?
You can find us online at www.mixedupmarket.com. We are also in boutiques across the US as well as Zulily.com, and Vault Marketplace.
15. Because I am a handbag designer I have to ask: Shoes or Bags, pick one; and tell us what you look for in a shoe/bag . . . ☺
I would definitely say handbags. They must be versatile, I need to be able to access things easily, like pull out a business card and carry a capri-sun at the same time. Basically it needs to be durable and fashionable.
Thanks Sonia!!! Had such a fun time hanging with you, and sharing our mompreneur stories!! Love the line, and what you stand for! xx
You can keep up with Sonia and Mixed Up Clothing here: web :: www.mixedupmarket.com :: twitter :: @mixedupclothing :: facebook :: facebook.com/mixedupclothing :: pinterest :: pinterest.com/mixedupclothing