In 2010, my husband and I were living in Paris for his work. My girlfriends were all having children and I took notice of what bags they were carrying and what was available. I didn’t see anything that looked like a fashionable/child-friendly handbag. When we moved back to Sydney, I met Ash (who’s a designer) and we agreed there was definitely a gap in the market. So, we took the plunge and began the process of sampling bags and setting up our online store.
We live in Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. I’ve travelled a lot and have seen some really beautiful places, but I have to say where we are is one of the best places to live. The lifestyle is very relaxing and I find the people in our community incredibly inspiring. We have the most beautiful beaches in the world right on our doorstep. I feel incredibly grateful to live here, and believe it’s the most wonderful place for children to grow up, having such an appreciation for the outdoors.
Before we had kids, a normal day involved going to the gym, work and dinners out. On the weekends, I’d go to the beach and then head out for drinks on a Saturday night with friends, or watch my husband play footy. Now, life is full of grocery shopping (I feel like I’m there most days), playdates, work, preparing meals, bath, bed…the usual mummy drill. Exercise is important to me, so I still make time for the gym. On the weekends, I still love the beach and we often have BBQs with friends. I’m still me, but my priorities in life have changed and so has the way I socialise and travel.
Parenting is definitely more tiring than I ever thought it would be. My first born, Kalani, wasn’t a great sleeper, so I was a walking zombie for the first year. Before I was pregnant, I wish I’d known about the book, Save Our Sleep by Tizzie Hall. I’m very much a person that likes routine, so had I known about this I think my first-time experience as a mother would’ve been very different. I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing, so having no guide to work from made me very nervous.
My husband is amazing, without his love and support life would be very different. The best parenting advice I’ve been given is, “The days are long and the years are short”, and, “They grow so fast, so enjoy every minute.” I’ve found this to be so true – the last four years have flown by.
If I were to give advice to other creative mums… I’d say always introduce yourself to other mums, as you never know what they specialised in before being a mum. It’s a great way to network and you never know what opportunities will come from it.
The best creative advice I’ve been given is to be true to your own style. There’s always going to be competition out there, but if people like your style and honest approach, they’ll always come back for more.
Being able to be there for my kids definitely drives me to run my own business. But everyday life inspires me. I’m very much a summer person so anything fresh, classic and beautiful catches my attention.
I’m at the stage now where I want the business to grow and branch out into different areas. One of the products I’ve always wanted to create are little girls’ leather sandals! Two reasons: one, beautiful kids’ sandals that follow adult trends are hard to find, and two, a close friend of mine is experienced in this field, so I was able to work alongside her to create and design the sandals. After many sketches and samples, we’ve come up with the current range.
We definitely drew inspiration from my daughter Havana when designing the sandals and necklaces. They needed to be something I would have her wear and something I would wear myself.
I wouldn’t change a thing about my creative and family life at the moment. I’m really blessed to have a husband that’s home four days a week, as this has allowed me to have time to work on Claudine and Ash and also be around for my children.
What does it mean to you to be an Australian creative, who’s also a mother?
It means a lot. I hope one day I can inspire my children to go out and live the life they always dreamed of. There are so many beautiful places in the world to see, but Australia is my home and there isn’t anywhere else I would rather be.
32-year-old Claudine Gasnier is co-owner of Claudine and Ash and mum to Kalani, 4, and Havana, 2. She lives with her husband and children on the Northern Beaches, NSW. Follow Claudine and Ash on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.