Stylemaker - Frida & Fauna

Frida & Fauna is a vintage inspired, boutique children's wear label filled with gorgeous handmade pieces. Since it's launch in 2011 by fashion designer/artist Sophia Gardiner, Frida & Fauna has continued to grow and now boasts a loyal following...

Each season Sophia designs and hand-crafts an exclusive collection from quality vintage materials, hand picked and sourced from the Gardiner family travels. She then uses this capsule collection as the inspiration to create a ready to wear range of stylish, up to date children's clothing from a mixture of vintage, new and custom designed fabrics unique to Frida and Fauna.

We asked Sophia a few questions about Frida & Fauna:
What inspired you to start Frida & Fauna?
Becoming a mother was the first stepping stone toward Frida and Fauna. Having our beautiful daughter, Frida and wanting to dress her in a fashion that we didn't have the income to provide at the time was the starting point and has given my skills in fashion design and construction a real purpose in my view. It taught me to be clever in my fabric choices mostly sourcing them (as I still do) from local op-shops and markets and practicing my skills in pattern drafting, tailoring and construction.

Being a mother with a home-based business i need to be extremely motivated and organized. To the outside world our lives appear hectic but we love the challenges it brings and are able to teach Frida first hand that she to can create a satisfying lucrative career from her passion. Our home is constantly filled with art and craft projects on the go and Frida, like her parents, loves to try her hand at a number of different artistic activities daily! Its a fun and rewarding way to live and we wouldn't have it any other way!

What is your background?
I studied fashion design and construction at Whanganui UCOL gaining the skills that I am now using to design and produce a regular small seasonal range of children's clothing.

I would describe 'Frida and Fauna' as a small boutique children's wear label, designed and currently hand-made by myself from my home in Pukawa Bay, New Zealand. I use new and vintage fabrics and notions to create quality one off items for children aged 1-6 years.

My family is extremely supportive of Frida and Fauna and as they are equally creative and driven, are a huge part of my inspiration and motivation to succeed. Frida is my number one muse and model and features in all the collection shoots to date! I am so lucky that she is so cooperative in front of the camera!

What do you love most about designing clothes for children?
I love that Frida can be involved, she has an opinion about all my creations and adores trying on what she can for the photo-shoots and fittings! We both love Little Golden books and its so nice to snuggle up together with Frida's collection and admire the old illustrations of the little girls in their vintage sun-dresses and Frida will point out garments she likes and ask if I can make them! She has great taste!

Where do you source all the beautiful vintage fabrics that you use in your range?
I am always on the hunt for amazing prints and fabrics and just have to stop in all the small towns, suburbs and markets whenever we travel anywhere! I'm lucky we travel a fair bit with my husband exhibiting his art regularly both in New Zealand and overseas so my fabric collection is rather impressive!

Still I dream of finding the perfect prints and am particularly fond of animal and floral printed Bark-cloth. I usually base a collection of garments around one staple print and because the fabric is vintage and usually really limited in size each garment is unique, each style is a one off and hand made like a work of art!

However in combination with sourcing vintage I am very excited to say that I am combining my love of art and fashion and have just started designing and printing my own vintage inspired, hand illustrated fabrics and soon this will also be a significant feature of Frida and Fauna. It will allow me to have more control over quantity, making the label more accessible, unique and help Frida and Fauna to grow!

Where are your favourite places to go in Lake Taupo with kids?
We are a very tight-knit little family and love spending time together. We love bush walks, swimming in the lake and local thermal hot-pools, feeding the ducks and swans from the lake-pier and Frida just loves the snow so we head up Mount Ruapehu for a play when we can! We are very lucky to live in such a beautiful area that has all of these things quite literally at our doorstep!

What was the best thing about being a kid?
Dressing up with my two sisters! We used to get into Mums fabric box and drape our selves in all sorts of shimmery silks and florals, then use the clothes pegs from the washing line to secure our creations and parade around in the garden of our little farmhouse like little ladies of leisure!

If Frida & Fauna were to make the cupcake, what flavour would it be and what would it look like?
What a great question! As well as making children's clothing, I also happen to be a very keen baker! In my little spare time I also make wedding and special occasion cakes under the name Sophia's Sweet Art! I just love the frilly, ruffle piped icings, sugar-craft flowers and specialize in hand painted cakes and cupcakes... If Frida and Fauna were to have their very own cupcake however it would need to be vintage inspired so perhaps a classic vanilla with a rosewater infused butter cream icing and fresh sugared violets on top!

A perfect mix of vintage, sweetness and floral! Maybe i could print my own illustrations onto the cases too and really personalize them....i think I need to go and make these now!