Kids’ fashion designer Kelly Eckhardt on valuing your life

From a near-fatal brain haemorrhage during pregnancy to launching kids’ fashion brand girlstalktoboys, Kelly Ekardt talks us through her quirky home, ‘laid-back minimal’ dress sense, setting up shop and the moment it nearly all ended…

Kelly Ekardt lives with her husband Julius Ekardt and their daughter Edith, aged four, in Crouch End, north London.

What’s your home like?
Our home is quite quirky. It’s not minimal by any means. My husband and I like colour and vintage furniture. We live in the bottom flat of an old house, so we have loads of light and a very nice garden. We entertain a lot so in the summer it’s in use all the time.

What time were you up this morning?

What woke you up?
My daughter, she crept into bed with us.

What did you do first thing?
Look at cat pictures with Edith on my phone.

Are you a morning person?
Well, I use to be. Trying to get back to earlier mornings.

What are your most productive working hours?
Actually late evenings.

Do you work from home or an office/studio?
I have been working from home but I am moving into a studio space at Hackney Downs Studios with Sonali from Little Goldie Shop (online kids toy shop) this week!

What’s your fashion background/training?
I studied at the University of Missouri-Columbia in Missouri, USA. I studied fashion design and product development. I was awarded a fashion design scholarship to come study in London at an American University called AIU. I then moved back home to works as a stylist for an outdoor company called Bass Pro Shops. I was their location stylist. I worked there for a year until I moved back to London. I then started up an online children’s boutique called I Dream Elephants. I did this for four years. I’ve also worked for Merchant Archive, Babyccino Kids, Little Icons, Sense Organics and Foundation Agency. And I’ve been blogging for about four years.

How do you dress – do you have a signature style, or change it up depending on your mood?
I would say my style is very laid-back minimal. I wear a lot of black, grey and very oversized clothing along with trainers. I think I’ve finally found my style. It took me awhile but I have been very consistent over the last few years.

Launching a kids’ fashion brand

When did you launch Girls Talk to Boys and why?
Well, I launched girlstalktoboys first as a fashion and lifestyle blog for mamas and their little ones about four years ago. But then I decided I wanted to start designing again back in October. And because I love the name so much and I already had a following I decided to keep the name.

What inspired the name?
The name girlstalktoboys came from a trip my husband and I took to Vienna. On a signpost in the city centre, there was a piece of paper that said: ‘FACT: girls that talk to boys from a young age will have better relationships’. I thought this was great as it could relate to boys and girls. I interpreted it as building confidence in your children to always be themselves and never to be scared to talk to those around you.

Can you describe your designs?
I would describe my designs as cool, comfy and smart. I designed the last collection so that everything goes together. No matter what you pick out, it works. I love layering; everything can be layered to create very unique outfits. I also take inspiration from Japanese and Korean fashion; you can see this throughout my designs.

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In recent years, you had a near-death experience. Can you explain what happened?
Four years ago when I was 30 weeks pregnant I woke up with a massive migraine. I’ve had migraines before, but this one was different. I felt like someone was hitting me over the head with a sledgehammer. After three hours of excruciating pain we called the Triage Ward at the Whittington Hospital.

I’d had a brain haemorrhage which was caused by a brain condition I had no idea I had called AVM (arteriovenous malformation). I was born without capillaries on the left side of my brain, so when my blood pressure rose because of the pregnancy, instead of the blood filtering through the capillaries and back to my heart, I had a bleed in the brain.

I was very lucky that my condition was found before going into labour because I wouldn’t have been so lucky otherwise. Many individuals with AVM have no idea they have it until it’s too late or they end up having a stroke.

My daughter was delivered by at 35 weeks by an elective caesarean with about six doctors in the room. When she was four weeks old I went through a brain treatment called embolisation then went through a form of radiation called gamma knife. It took about three years of recovery but I am now well and healthy.

How has all this changed your attitude towards family/work/life in general?
Life’s too short not to appreciate those around you and to not just go for what you want. I encourage those around me to start living their dream now. Why wait for some tragic to happen before going for it?!

The kids’ fashion world

How’s business going?
My business is going well. I launched my first collection Beneath the Milky Way Dreams Come True to buyers and press at the Dot to Dot Kids Trade Show in London back in January. I had an amazing response. I have just launched my crowdfunding campaign over at Indiegogo to raise funds to grow my business.

What are your hopes, career-wise?
I want to keep growing girlstalktoboys to become a household kids and lifestyle brand, along with building a really great team to continue the adventure with me!

And for your personal life?
I would like to travel more and work with other mothers to help them find their inspiration and business ideas. And get more sun!

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Tokyo. It’s a dream of mine to go to Tokyo; I know I would love it.

Check out the girlstalktoboys Indiegogo campaign

What are your favourite kids’ fashion brands? Let us know below…

Photo credit: Vanessa Valentine