We are very pleased to welcome the first maternity brand to join us at IndependentBoutique.com – Keungzai Maternity! Keungzai Maternity was founded in 2011 by Michelle Lee after she distraught by the lack of choice and quality in maternity wear during her pregnancy in 2009. So she took a leap of faith and created a maternity line she wishes she could have worn! We chat to Michelle about her brand which is fast becoming the favourite of celebrity mums-to-be including Sienna Miller.
I founded Keungzai, the online maternity boutique, stocking our own label Keungzai Maternity. We create directional yet timeless pieces for fashion-forward moms-to-be. We love prints and we love pleating, draping and twists. We’ll continually develop our design ideas to add newness and optimum style credentials for bumps and beyond.
What sort of comments do you get about your designs?
“Almost worth getting pregnant again.” – Angels & Urchins
“The one-stop-shop for all your maternity fashion needs.” – StyleNest
“Beautiful, stylish maternity wear. I am happy to recommend to my future pregnant clients.” – Karen Donnelly
“I like your style for stylish mums to be! Women should always feel their very best at all times. Superb!” – Stylefig
“Love, love, love! Wish you’d been around when I was pregnant. A maternity must visit site!” – Sarah Curran, CEO.
What is your background?
I graduated in Fashion Marketing and Communications and went on to work at ASOS.com within the Womenswear buying department. In between I’ve also had experience in Visual Merchandising, PR, sales and social media consulting. You could say I’m an all-rounder!
Which designers do you rate highly and why?
Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen – developing and taking on such an empire is a difficult task in itself. Excelling and moving the brand forward is a vast achievement beyond this.
Diane Von Furstenburg – for designing so perfectly for the contemporary woman.
Karen Walker – for mixing up styles / prints and themes with such ease and perfect execution.
Holly Fulton – for not adhering to trends and following her own design handwriting with beautiful results.
Tell us about your design process from concept, production and to the shelves…
I collect tears on a daily basis and collate them. When it comes to brainstorming and building themes I bring together as many visual design themes and ideas as possible. The design stems between myself and our in-house design/production manager organically from the most seemingly irrelevant images and materials are sourced locally from British mills wherever possible. My production manager takes the designs to sampling stage, we fit up to 2 – 3 garments per style on a genuine pregnant model to ensure we achieve the look we want while keeping our fits as comfortable and flattering as possible. We approve the fits and the production manager takes it from there with her UK based studio team.
How do you think your brand has developed?
This is our first collection! However, as we are working on AW12 release, already we are refining our looks and creating even more beautiful prints.
What do you hate most about your job?
I am the founder and director of the company which means I need to have 5 heads for1 body. It can be a tricky task to juggle as a single mom.
What are your main achievements and what do you aim to achieve now? Past present and future
My 2 year old is my utmost achievement in life so far!
Then, having launched my own maternity boutique with our own label brand which was met with applause and praise has been thoroughly rewarding.
I hope to develop our brand and website into my vision… but I can’t tell you too much as that would be giving it all away!
What advice would you have for anyone starting out in (your field)?
Research research research. Trial, sample and bring together focus groups. Explore every business management topic while you can before you start trading. Build a really good team around you. Good people make an even better effective team.
Why do you think British design stands out on the global stage?
The British aren’t afraid to take risks and turn their backs to the norm. It’s this fearlessness that has brought us the likes of Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood to the global stage.
Shop the entire Keungzai Maternity collection here.