May 02, 2021 5 min read
On the blog this week, we are so excited to introduce Kendra! Kendra is the Founder and Creative Director of Petits Genoux. If you are not familiar with the brand, they are a Canadian-based baby clothing company that is eco-conscious, socially-conscious, and gender-neutral. Petits Genoux creates the most gorgeous pieces from newborn to two years of age. Kendra is also a mom to her son, Miles who is eight. We spent some time chatting with Kendra to get to know her story, both as an entrepreneur and mama.
1. What inspired you to create your brand, Petits Genoux? How have things changed for your business since the pandemic?
I come from a family of tailors. Both my father and mother sewed, my father’s brother, and before him my Grandfather, was a Master Tailor on his island of Dominica, and made all the uniforms for the local police department. I picked up sewing at the age of 10 and always wanted to be a fashion designer. I studied at Ryerson University’s fashion design program and have been a womenswear designer for over 20 years.
Petits Genoux began as a partnership with a mom-friend of mine while we waited for our toddlers to finish their day at preschool. She had just had her second baby and would show up with fabric samples (knowing I was a fashion designer) and ask if I could make a bonnet, or some knickers or whatever she was inspired by from Pinterest. I began coming up with styles and different pieces and when we had about 8 items we began to wonder if this could be something.
We met with some friends in the luxury baby retail business to see if we had something buildable and by the end of lunch, we had an order, a launch date, a store window placement, with a little over a month to get our act together. We had to build a brand from scratch! Business cards, bank account, website, registering the business, creating a collection, brand identity, tags...you name it, we had to do it, because we had to take advantage of the opportunity.
It was that intense, exciting whirlwind of creative madness and building something from scratch, that I, as an entrepreneur, am addicted to.
The pandemic has brought more eyes to the brand for sure, and that has given me the drive to continue and push forward. I have learnt so much more about selling online this past year with all the educational tools that are out there. Without the ability to rely on pop-ups and connecting with clients in person, I have had to learn an entire new batch of online skills with lightning speed. What keeps me going is that I believe in my product, my purpose and my potential for success... if I didn’t have that then it wouldn’t be worth it.
2. As a mama and an entrepreneur, juggling home and work life can be difficult. How is it parenting in a pandemic? How do you balance between the two?
Finding "work life balance' is a myth that needs to be busted for good. Striving for that puts undue stress on so many. Since the pandemic, my self-care includes a skincare ritual that makes me feel like I’m taking care of myself, my bedroom is curated with art and all my special things that make me feel good (my Nespresso machine is on my bedside table!). When sh*# hits the fan and I don’t get any breaks, at least those things are in place to hold me over until I get real time and space to do more. Something I always say to myself is 'you can have everything you want... just not at the same time.’
3. We are in the 3rd wave of the covid pandemic and in lockdown again (in Ontario). What do you do to take care of yourself? Do you experience ‘mom guilt’?
This 3rd wave of the lockdown is one lockdown too many, but at the end of February I started exercising again and now I have a good rhythm going and feel strong and clear headed. The weather is better now, so lots of walks and bike riding is also helping keep spirits and energy up. As for Mom guilt... all the time! I am very busy running my business and homeschooling, I sometimes don’t include enough snuggle time or one-on-one time. I’m working on that and have some fun things planned to make the weeks feel more exciting.
4. I know it’s been a while, but would you please share with us your breastfeeding journey?
My breastfeeding story was not a happy one. It was the most painful and soul crushing part of my birth story. I had such plans for breastfeeding and it all fell apart from the very beginning. My son was not latching properly so my nipples were sore, cracked and bloody. I was not producing much milk and so I started pumping right away. I had a night nurse that would massage my breasts at night hoping to create a flow. I got mastitis on day 10 and had to supplement with formula. The pain was nothing like I have ever felt before and I tried everything, lactation consultant, tinctures from the naturopath, drinking malt beer… you name it, I tried it.
The hardest part was separating my belief that “breastfeeding is natural and easy” and the feeling that “I had failed”. I had to realize that both Mama and baby are learning something new for the first time, and that as long as baby is healthy and happy, nothing else matters. It took a while for me not to feel shame, but that experience showed me more than anything else that you have to trust in yourself, believe in your process and drown out all the noise. Do what’s right for you, your body and your baby.
5. If you could go back in time before you had kids and offer yourself advice about motherhood, what would you say?
I don’t think I have any advice per say but I would tell myself it’s everything you thought it would be and more.
6. And finally, what is your favourite part of being a mama?
The best part of being a Mama to Miles is the bond between us. It’s intuitive, synchronized and has a flow that mystifies both of us at times.
We would like to thank Kendra for talking to us and taking the time to answer our questions on her work life, motherhood and breastfeeding experience. Breastfeeding is natural but certainly does not come easy for everyone. All of our journeys are different and that is what makes it so unique. I think many mamas will agree that in the end, ‘doing what is best for you, your body and baby’ is the most important. Thank you Kendra for that and for sharing your story.If you would like to learn more about Kendra and her brand, Petits Genoux, please visit their website here or on Instagram here.
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