Clary & Peg offer vintage-inspired maternity clothes that can be worn before, during and after pregnancy. The founders – Edwina Gieve and Johanna Kociejowski, friends from antenatal class – explain the business…
Our vision for the company was born of our own frustration: we could not find the maternity clothes that we wanted to wear and were having to compromise when pregnant. We wanted to create a maternity brand that was also a fashion brand, where pregnant women like us could buy stylish and unique pieces.
Our collection is made up of 50s-inspired tops, 60s and 70s-inspired dresses and 80s-inspired jumpsuits and dungarees. We were inspired by our mothers’ effortless cool while pregnant – in stylish dungarees – and our grandmothers in elegant smock tops, as well as our own vintage wardrobes. We wanted to offer something other than the standard wrap dress.
We launched the day after Edwina’s second child was born and a month before Johanna had her second child, naming the company after Edwina’s mother (Caroline) and Johanna’s grandmother (Peggy).
We initially decided to launch a capsule collection of four pieces to fulfil every sartorial need. The dungarees for everyday wear, the bell-sleeved dress for work or dressed up for a party, our maxi dress for a wedding and our smock dress to live in during the last few more uncomfortable months. We’ve added to the collection every season.
Our manufacturer is based in Barking, which allows us to keep a close eye on the quality of the clothing. Ethical production is crucially important to us
Before we set up the business, Edwina was working as an actress and Johanna was working as a project manager for a charity. We were both looking to do something creative that afforded flexibility – vitally important with two small children.
We both design the clothes (often based on vintage designs) and work with a pattern cutter in south London. Our manufacturer is based in Barking, which allows us to keep a close eye on the quality of the clothing. Ethical production is crucially important to us too.
Our partnership works really well – we have the same strengths and enjoy the creative side of things, but also know where to look for help when it comes to the financial side. Our company is so personal to us that sometimes we can take the knocks too personally, but it’s good having two of us to keep motivated during the harder times. Our sales have increased fivefold in the past year and we’re excited about our forthcoming collections.
As for any working mother, it’s difficult to balance childcare with running a business. We both have children who are school as well as au pairs and childminders which allows us to dedicate a few days a week to Clary & Peg. We don’t work the same days so that we can cover the week.