Felix and Leopold is an online kids clothing brand which creates stylish ethical and unique unisex clothing, made from scratch by hand for little people. The Felix and Leopold team are conscious of the world they leave behind for their littles. They source their fabrics from around the world, trying their best to ensure that what they use has been produced in the most sustainable way. Their designs are made using surplus fabrics which are cut offs and left over fabrics from manufacturers. “In using what others don’t need, we are doing our bit to ensure that these remnants don’t end up in landfill taking years and years to decompose or pose a threat to our ecosystem.” We spoke to business founder Pauline Da Silva to find out more about their business.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
We all have those dreams of becoming fire fighters, astronauts, superstars. Mine was to someday run my own business. I remember spending countless hours as a little girl sketching and designing – at the time tutus being my thing. And I remember my dad teaching me to use the sewing machine for the first time and my mum frustratingly teachings left handed to knit. It wasn’t until my teens, when I worked with an amazing businesswoman who ran her own retail business and learned the inside outs of the retail industry, that I began to discover my direction. Then life took a small detour and I became a teacher but kept my creative juices flowing in my spare time.
I’ve always been a sucker for kids’ fashion and once my first born came into the world, I got a real kick out of playing dress ups with him. This was the next big moment in the conception of Felix and Leopold – becoming a mum. Holding my baby in my arms, I felt an overwhelming need to better the world for my little man. I thought long and hard on how I could do this, and the best way I knew how was to make a change in the textile industry by staying away from mass-produced clothing and trying my best to buy sustainable and ethical. Babies grow so fast, from newborns to toddlers to kids in a flash, and the amount of clothes thrown away baffled me. What was the point in buying so many tees and onesies that are ruined after one wash or we just simply throw away because “it was cheap anyway”? Then it happened – I knew what I was going to do. Why can’t there be timeless kids’ clothing and basics that last the test of time, and is made with kids in mind and not just fashion trends? By now it was a no-brainier. I began sourcing sustainable materials, mostly surplus fabrics thrown out by manufacturers, and started pattern making and sewing our first designs. Then Felix and Leopold was born.
The Launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
When I decided I was going to make this dream happen I had a very clear goal: create timeless, durable and wearable pieces that stood the test of time. I had no interest in looking at what was ‘in’ but what would last.
Fabric selection was the key for me and to this day I source my fabrics myself, ensuring that they are premium quality, ethically sourced and sustainable.
From here, I had a clear design aesthetic. I wanted to create boys’ and girls’ apparel that would be durable and wearable for life’s little adventures. I started drawing patterns and teamed up with an amazing seamstress who made these designs and patterns a reality. From here the first Felix and Leopold pieces were created. We road tested them for about 4 months on my then very active toddler, wearing, playing and of course washing, washing, washing.
After months of tweaking and testing it was time to release our designs to the public. Possibly one of the scariest moments in my life, but the amazing feedback we received from customers gave us a stronger drive to continue.