Launching Working Mum Wisdom issue #1: Sandhya Lalloo-Morar: Mum, costume designer, entrepreneur
"To succeed, you have find your tribe that will actively support you"
The most amazing thing about this newsletter for me is being connected to all of you incredible mums. In a short span of 4 months, over 150 of you have come together and I am so honoured to have a little bit of your time every week.
Interacting with so many of you has inspired the launch of a series where I share your ‘working mum wisdom’ with the community. Today marks the first edition of this series and I am so excited to bring it to you!
Meet Sandhya, mum, costumer designer and founder of sustainable clothing brand
This first edition features Sandhya, mum of 6-year old, costume designer and founder of a sustainable clothing brand Idō Movement. Sandhya and I used to go to the same contemporary dance classes about 8 years ago. The dance school closed down, and we lost touch. Sandhya found me through my newsletter and we met each other again as mums and it was just a wonderful exchange getting to know each other in a different phase of our lives.
I am so amazed by everything she is doing. I had already bought some clothes from Idō Movement not even knowing it was hers! Here she talks about being a mum, starting her business, and how she manages it all.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I grew up in South Africa. My parents were involved in show business and we were constantly creating costumes and putting up community shows. This inspired me to create. After finishing school, I studied fashion design at University of Johannesburg and continued on as a lecturer in fashion. After winning the young designer award, I also started my first fashion brand in South Africa in 2000. In 2010, I moved to Dubai and began working with multiple brands as a stylist and costume designer. In parallel, I completed my postgraduate degree in fashion which was focused on Japanese design, and lectured at institutes in Dubai.
If I am not designing or creating, I am dancing. I have dabbled in dance since the age of 6 and this is my go-to happy place to get inspired.
You are a mum to a 6-year old, stylist / costume designer; and entrepreneur. How do you do it all?!
It’s definitely a balancing act trying to give the time and priority each deserves. As a creative, one thing for sure is that design and inspiration does not keep office hours. No matter what I am doing, I am always thinking, designing and creating. Each activity, be it reading with my son, helping him out with school projects, or working on set for an advertising campaign, I am constantly using the opportunity as a creative outlet to try new things and look at how they can complement my designs.
What is your ultimate goal as a working mum?
My goal is to be in a position where I can choose the projects I want to work on. This will allow me greater flexibility to spend time with my family and spend quality time designing as opposed to having to chase every opportunity to earn a living from my business.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Whilst all things around me inspire me, dance probably stands out as my key source of inspiration. I am totally entranced by movement of the body and the flow of energy as I watch or partake in dance activities. My mind conjures images of how the clothing moves with the body and accentuates the movement or complements the flow to show the energy of the dancer. Most of the designs in my collection are inspired by a dancer that I know or whom I’ve worked with and each has been visualized through their dance moves.
What is your best productivity hack?
Coffee sharpens my mind and helps me focus. Other than that, you will always find me with a tape measure, a pencil and my measurement book in my bag that allows me to quickly size up and design on the go.
What is your parenting mantra?
You listen, I listen!
What do you do in your 'me-time' and how does it help you?
My me-time is when I am at a dance classes. I love to move and challenge myself to perform complex moves. Attending a dance class gives me a boost and invigorates my creative juices. If I am not in a dance class, you will find me curled up on the couch taking a nap!
Did becoming a mother change the way you think about work? How so?
Most definitely. Previously, I used to take on work as means to keep busy. After becoming a mother, I have become a lot more circumspect on the jobs that I take on and also more focused on ensuring I take on activities that have purpose.
Tell us a bit about your business Idō Movement and what inspired its launch?
The Idō Movement is the culmination of my two passions – dance and design with a sense of purpose that is based on sustainability. After completing my post-graduate studies in Japanese design, I felt the need to start a new brand that was NOT focused on fashion trends, but rather embraced the philosophies of Japanese design to make a difference.
Idō is a Japanese word that means movement, change, shift, motion. A dual meaning that pushes us to move as dancers, all the while moving to a more sustainable lifestyle. Whilst sustainability is the foundation of most effective fabric choice for the clothes, whether they are made of recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets or organic fabrics such as hemp and bamboo which have a very low environmental impact; I also place great focus on the design of the piece to ensure it flows with the body.
Each piece in our range is inspired by dancers here in the Middle East, and actually named after them too! I have had the privilege of learning from and working the team from Sima Performing Arts and have been designing costumes for their productions. When I attend class, I am inspired by their effortless moves and often, my mind wanders as I imagine them dressed in a certain way. This then forms the foundation of the various designs.
Another key facet of The Idō Movement aesthetic is that the design embraces minimalism and is built for multi-use. In our busy lives today, we are constantly moving from one activity to another as we navigate from home to gym, to the studio, to the pool, to work, to a night out with family or friends. The waste that is created in our wardrobes, notwithstanding the water that is wasted on each piece has also greatly influenced each design. Various pieces from our range can be used from beginning of day to end given the properties of the fabric and the design to support the flow of each activity.
What are you doing, apart from Idō Movement, to live a sustainable life?
I truly believe that every little bit counts. Recycling of packaging wherever it is possible is a basic element of our lives. I also tend to upcycle most elements by applying them in school projects or items needed around the house as opposed to throwing them down the garbage chute. My entire warehousing setup is built on recycled boxes from my grocery delivery partner. My own wardrobe is mostly made by myself and based on the fabrics and their design construction, my clothes last for many years.
What were your biggest learnings as an entrepreneur?
To succeed, you have find your tribe that will actively support you. You cannot rely on old relationships and acquaintances – you have to get out of your comfort zone and find those true supporters and actively engage them.
What's it like being a mumpreneur?
I am not one for titles. I believe every person out there - a mother, a father, a daughter or son can become an entrepreneur. The key is about taking your dream and taking action, not just holding on to the idea. If your heart is in and you are working with passion, nothing can stop you.
What is your advice to new mums looking to start working again?
My advice is that your heart be in it to start work again. If passion for the work is not there, you will only feel regret.
Favourite tool that makes your life easier?
I wouldn’t call it a tool – but definitely my husband :) He is extremely tech savvy, he makes my life easier by reducing the noise around me and helping me focus on all the things that matter.
Parenting book / advice that was a game changer for you?
I have never read a parenting book for one reason, I believe no kid has read an instruction book when they were born. Each child is unique and each will have their own characteristics. We grow together by learning about each other.
There is no greater luxury than sustainability -- Unknown
Best thing you have read or watched lately
Minari, a drama that tells the wonderful story of what roots us as it follows a Korean-American family that moves to an Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. Amidst the instability and challenges of this new life in the rugged Ozarks, Minari shows the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.
I hope you found that interesting. Any feedback would be so welcome! Hit reply or leave a comment here.
If you have any more questions for Sandhya or want to connect with her for anything, you can reach here via this newsletter ( leave a comment or email me and I will connect you).
Have a great week, and see you soon.