Vintage. Handmade. Upcycled. Fashionable. One of a kind pieces for your little girl or boy to wear for any occasion.
This past holiday season I had the pleasure of meeting Alison Thompson-Albert founder and creative designer of Goldiemilks. We were both presenting our line of artful goodies at the Evergreen Brickworks. Once I had a family volunteer 'man my booth' I went out in search for some last minute gifts. Being an auntie to five toddlers and that very day my niece Charlotte was born, it was no wonder that I gravitated to the Goldiemilks booth. The first thing I set eyes on was the adorable felt doughnut fasinator shown here below.
After speaking with Alison, I started to fall deeper in love with her pieces of upcylced vintage outfits. She gathers vintage fabrics to create one of a kind dresses, skirts and bowties (& so much more) for precious girls and boys to wear. All her pattern choices are happy and bright. Plus she's a mother herself who has started her own business and that is why I had to write a blog post to share her beautiful pieces and story. Below I connected with Alison after the holidays to ask her a few questions about how she created this adorable line of children's wear.
Please take the time to view and read below as it's filled with oodles of inspiration.
Tell us a little (lot) about you and what inspired you to get into handmade clothing?
My interest in garment making has been a long one. My mother worked as a seamstress in our community when I was little and I grew up playing with her scraps and drawing "designs" of my very own. I went through a phase where I exclusively made sweet lycra items for my barbies and ninja turtles. Later in university where I studied Art I found much solace in knitting. For me craft in this way was the perfect balance to the academic approach to art and theory that I was immersed in. Quickly knitting became an obsession. By the time I had completed uni and moved to Toronto where I would "be an artist" I had found that my knitting was as interesting to me as my drawing. This was when I began my first craft enterprise, selling hand knit button up neck scarves in the gift shop where I worked. (The store is called the Outer Layer and might be the best gift shop in Toronto) It was a good experiment for me in business. Ever since then I have taken custom orders for hand knit goods from many people.
A year or so later I took a job working at my favourite clothing boutique 'Preloved', the masters of the art of upcycling and my obvious inspiration. While at preloved my earlier foray in knitting lead me to my next step in garment design which was being hired by another designer to hand knit her collection. This is possibly the most expensive handmade project I have done to date. I had to take her sewing patterns and transform them into knitting patterns and then knit them up before her runway show. I was very under prepared for such a project and it took my three times as long to complete than I had estimated. Big Big Lesson. Between this experience and the environment at Preloved I became committed to return to school and learn how to design clothing. So I did. At George Brown College I did some part time programming and studied illustration and fashion design.
When I was done schooling I had the terrific luck of meeting a real costume designer at a house party who decided she liked me enough to hire me to work under her at a children's television company. This is where everything I learned was put to the test. My boss was super talented and I was slow to say the least. But It worked out very well I learned so much on the job about garments because I had to. Christine is another person who continues to inspire me, she works so hard and gets so much done in a day. I worked for her until I became pregnant and really started to reconsider the hours and hustle I was operating at. I really loved the work but given that my partners work is also very demanding I felt that we couldn't thrive well as a family with two super hard hustling parents without more family in the city to fill the parenting gap.
So I chose to stay home and stay active. I had worked a bit in the past for my talented friend Willow of Willowfern Designs helping out at craft shows. The experience and encouragement from her helped me to make a small collection of kids clothing and attempt to do shows of my own. And from there I have just kept going.
My main philosophy of living slow, with a small footprint has ultimately guided my choice to be a maker and teacher in this way. My mission to recycle adds a fun element to the mix as I get to manage very unique design challenges, produce something so very one of a kind, and act out my intention to take less from the planet. It becomes an art and a craft which seems to be the place my psyche rests best.
Vintage Outfit Choices, Why?
I love fashion, I love the way humans use clothing to express themselves. I specifically love odd clothing combinations. I adore absurdity. I find I am so happy when wearing something completely bonkers. I love vintage. I love finding treasures that are old because it affords me more space to have my own look. I do not enjoy buying new clothes. (I do sometimes because life!) It is really hard for me to just casually buy new things anymore. There is so much we know about how the garment industry treats it's workers, treats our earth, and treats us as consumers that I cannot 'unsee' it or 'unknow' it. So generally I refuse to participate. So again my personal ethic does inform my fashion choices. But oh the fun you can have with second hand clothing!!!!!!!!! PS. I don't mean to sound preachy. I really have spent some time learning about it and it is hard earned knowledge that has impacted my life. If you want to learn more about sustainable clothing check these folks out! : https://fashiontakesaction.com/
My creative process is comprised of drawing on everything all the time everywhere. For both my art and craft practices I keep a moleskine agenda in my bag and put my drawings and ideas into it directly or taped in on whatever scrap of paper they were put on. Later I work them out into a sketchbook in the studio and evolve a pattern from there when time allows. I make a few proof's or experiments of my plan and then draft the sizes from there according to my blocks and fit models.
My most favourite series from this year was a short batch of dresses and bubble shorts that I made from dark blue bedsheet fabrics that I adjusted with bleach washes in my backyard. The result was outstanding. It looked like the cosmos. I sold every item the first time I showed them. I hope to do more this spring. Loved 'em!!
Most successful Item:
The swing tank by far. It is an easy to wear item that grows with the kid so the parents have it for a number of years. It is also very simply to make and the rice is great!
Up coming projects:
Oh man. Right now I am working on new versions of some of my favourite items. I am also tackling a bit of design work for adult items bc my fans have been asking. I get asked at every show so I want to experiment and see what happens. Ultimately one day I would love to make adult wear. There is so much opportunity to have fun.
Also A Fun Fact: Some of my art work, including a "Rad Babe" embroidery hoop from the goldiemilks products, was used for set dressing in a film that will be premiering this year in London England at the BFI Flare Fest!! What Fun! It is a short called Charlie by a fabulous up and coming director named Lesley Johnson.
My personal Favourite Garment or Outift:
This is tough. I go through phases. typically though my signature go to is some kind of high waist skirt that ends mid calf - I have several sweet vintage units of this kind like the gold one I wore during the Evergreen winter market- paired with some t-shirt or patterned button down blouse. I also really love to layer patterns especially plaids. I love colour and seldom wear flat black items. **I must add that my day to day work wear is super banal. I generally wear tights as pants and a t-shirt or sweater. Less fuss getting dressed on a work day means more work on a work day.
Where can we find Goldiemilks?
Best place to find me is on Instagram. I use it as my primary tool to let ppl know what is up and where and when to shop. I end up doing sales via pm quite often. I use Etsy kind of but never really got into it. I aim to try to use the platform more this year.
The other place you can find a selection of my head bands is a shop on the Danforth called Merrily Merrily. A quaint and local second hand and indie maker shop that specializes in all things new babe and kid and mum.
Thank you to Alison for sharing your personal journey with me and my blog viewers. I look forward to seeing your line grow and possibly at the Evergreen this spring!?!! :)
Peace & Love to all until the next post!
Daniela :) xoxo