I get SO many emails about new kidswear brands/labels, I can’t tell you… And so many of them are really lovely too (I wish they’d all been around when Tabarlow were babies – there was really just ‘high end’ of High Street, hence the idea for Little Spree in the first place. Anyway. But as Little Spree has grown and evolved naturally from just babies and kids clothes and accessories, to include womenswear, interiors, books, gifts, menswear, even gardens (albeit tiny ones!!); I have to be even pickier than ever when deciding which of them to share with you (and as you all know only too well, I am not sharing anything with you that I don’t already love myself).
So when I received an email from the owner of Bunny & Mouse, Claire Mayers, not only did I instantly loved the dresses (she had me at smocking…), but the whole concept behind the company. So I am sharing it with you now.
Since they were babies, Claire’s mum proudly dressed her girls in smocked dresses, and her brothers in Christopher Robin outfits (I mean…). She has smocked since she was in her early twenties, and has passed on her love of smocked dresses to her children and grandchildren. She has made several smocked dresses for each of her granddaughters.
After many compliments and requests for her mum to make dresses for Claire’s friend’s children, the concept of Bunny & Mouse was born. From the outset, Claire always knew that they wouldn’t just be a smocked dress company, but rather an entity that also empowered and grew their local community in Durban, South Africa. She had the brilliant idea of teaching some of the people in Inchanga how to smock – in order to earn an income, without them having to travel, or even leave their homes. Claire’s mum spent a few months teaching her how to smock, and once she got the hang of the basics, she began teaching smocking classes to the HIV/AIDS support group in the Inchanga township.
As you may or may not know, smocking is a skill that involves incredible patience and time, and one girl’s dress can take anywhere from two to three weeks to make. It is a dying art as it is incredibly time consuming and almost everything is stitched by hand. It is a true labour of love!
They then chose a team of men and women at the Valley of a Thousand Hills Community Helpers Centre in the Inchanga township in South Africa, who were in some way or another unable to hold down a job that involved too much labour, as their health was compromised (many have HIV or AIDS), and/or were unable to travel great distances to and from work. Claire and her mother spent many hours teaching them basic smocking skills, and now they are the backbone of the Bunny & Mouse production team. Each and every dress has been crafted with uniqueness, pride and precision.
Oh, and the name? Bunny and Mouse (so sweet) was a play on Claire’s daughters’ nicknames.
So, if like me, you love anything smocked (I have always loved it – as child, and as an adult), you are going to love their collection of beautiful, traditional style dresses.