Einav wears the Catia Top in Soft Black Combo
I first became aware of Einav’s work when I had my first child. I loved her clothing line Sweet Luka Mo, it’s an unexpected look for children’s wear - lots of black, grey, dusty hues - all my favorite colors. I love the cool, city-vibe to her designs, and that they are U.S. made. The other genius thing to her collection is the fact that you can re-use the clothing from boy to girl - the gender neutrality of the designs allowed for me to buy a great quality product - and had the eco-benefit of reuse for my daughter. It’s no surprise that now that Einav has taken a break from her fashion line, that she has chosen to write about health, politics, and environmental issues. Read more to hear about Einav’s career, passions, and personal style.
How did you first get the idea for Sweet Luka Mo, and how did you know it was a company worth pursuing? The inspiration for SLM came from my son, Luka, in 2012. I was really scouring the kids’ apparel offerings out there at the time and found it hard to track down baby clothes I loved. I’d sewn for years and was out fabric shopping one day when I came across a couple of fabrics I loved. I immediately grabbed them and went home and made a pattern for baby leggings. The rest, as they say, is history.
What do you think gave the clothing line a distinctive edge in a very crowded retail space? What type of woman purchased the clothes? I think we always tried to offer something distinct. A lot of the momentum came from social media and word of mouth, and parents really love supporting family-owned business. The parents who gravitated toward our brand seemed a lot like us – seeking out cool stuff for their kids and willing to pay a bit of a premium to invest in a small business. I enjoyed sharing glimpses into our life as parents running a business. In the past, I’ve been a pretty private person in some ways, so it was nice to have space where I felt comfortable to open up to thousands of strangers, though it was also important to me to have some boundaries there.
It was also hard to stay distinctive. There’s a lot of “biting” in the apparel world, and kids’ apparel is not immune. I was fortunate to befriend other moms and dads running other brands all over the world – we would swap stuff for our kids and talk shop. And we looked out for each other when we spotted someone’s designs copied at H&M or Gap or Zara. It happened to us eventually, and that was disheartening. Literal blood, sweat, and tears went into our creations.
What did you learn about mothers and motherhood through crafting communications directed at women with children? On the one hand, it’s an exciting time to be a parent and a business owner. Social media helped me make connections I never would’ve been able to make otherwise, but the curated snippets of our lives we all share can really be toxic in the long term if we don’t remind ourselves that everyone is mostly just sharing the highlights. I think a lot of us got hip to that quickly and had an understanding that we were navigating something new and tricky. I learned that mothers have unlimited power when we work together. It really is a global community like no other.
What have experiences throughout your career been most influential in determining where you are now? It’s hard to say. As much as motherhood is what got me into my business, it’s ultimately also what helped me see that it was time to press pause. Having a business is like having a kid, but Luka is now almost 6 and we had my daughter, Talya, last summer. I realized I needed to prioritize the flesh and blood kids for a while. Childhood goes by quickly, and I want to be as present as I can be right now.
You recently took a hiatus from Sweet Luka Mo to focus on being a mother – how have you approached that transition? Even while SLM was up and running I continued to do some freelance writing. Writing is my original trade, and I’ve been lucky to be able to take this hiatus from the business and return to more writing. I get to work from home part-time, and also have a lot of time to think about what bringing back SLM would look like.
What advice do you have for designers that are interested in sustainable practices in their design work? A lot of people starting brands of their own used to reach out to me and ask me how I started mine, but I really couldn’t hand them the answers to that. For me, it all happened with lots of footwork and research and industry outreach. For someone looking to start a brand, there are resources like Maker’s Row where you can find apparel manufacturers and dye houses and textiles, and you just have to call a ton of them and figure out what will work best for what you’re trying to do. You need to have a clear vision of what you want to create and at what scale and go from there.
How do you think print journalism has changed since you completed your Master’s Degree at the University of Colorado Boulder? I haven’t had a piece published in an actual paper magazine in years. On the one hand, it makes me sad. I studied print journalism and then the industry started to disintegrate. But I’m part of a Facebook group of women freelancers – there are about 10,000 women in the group from around the world. We share our work, tips on how to navigate the industry and make connections that have led to new work for me. That’s been incredible.
In your journalism work, you write a lot about natural approaches to health and wellness. What are things that you enjoy doing just for yourself? Doing things for yourself, by yourself is such a rarity as a mother! It’s hard to find it during the day, but I love to get outside and explore the city with my kids. At night when they go to bed, there are a few sweet quiet hours when I really appreciate a glass or two of wine with nobody around to knock it over.
What do you wear when you want to feel your absolute best? I love flowy things, light layers, great old t-shirts, a cute flat I can walk around in for hours, dark colors that are forgiving of coffee stains. ;)