Posted on November 03 2016
"M&T started as a creative outlet for me to draw and design really"
Tell us your start up story? How and when did you begin?
I'm an NCAD graduate with a Bachelor of Design in Printed Textiles.
After college I worked in visual displays & project managed store openings for global brands for over a decade but always wanted to get back into designing & printing myself, so during my maternity leave I decided to dust off the sketch books and start drawing again.
Being a new mum, baby wear was what I was most inspired to print. My husband's father was always at me to get printing again as he had all the equipment and had previously been printer by trade. After trial & error, hundreds of hours researching European manufacturers, organic cotton and trying to find the right retail outlets I opened my first Etsy store.
I quickly got my things into some great little craft stores around Ireland and opened up an Instagram account where the brand gained international exposure and then stockists. While I've been printing on babygrows for around three years, I'm just over a year at it full-time.
What does your brand stand for / what is important to you?
M&T started as a creative outlet for me to draw and design really. When I had my daughter who's four & a half now, I didn't know much about independent brands. Social media has since taught me a lot. It was all high street and the odd retro band onesie (cliché Stone Roses baby tee). I wanted something different and fresh for her. I loved vintage illustration with a twist, for example, a vintage hot air balloon or a Russian doll in a neon colour. There was also little or no monochrome. The first two screen printing ink colours I bought were black and neon pink. I suppose M&T stands for something else now. It's a brand and it's my living. It's important for the brand to develop and constantly improve. When I look back at my first prints I get a little embarrassed but it's good to see how far we've come since them. I also plan to revisit and develop my original illustrations in the future.
How did you come up with your name?
When I first started out, I wanted my illustrations to tell a story so I developed two characters, a jester & a bunny. Everything was vintage circus, harlequin & jester inspired to begin with. I thought the characters should have names so my hubby & I decided on Moobles & Toobles. We'd been calling Blaithin 'Missey Moo' (it's a total Dublin thing) and that progressed into 'Missey Moobles' (Dion's fault) so Moobles & Toobles came from there. I suppose you could say it's kind of 'different' but it stuck.
What do you love most about running your own business?
I can do lots from home so I get to spend most of my time with my daughter. It's also my creative outlet. I never felt I could express myself fully in my other job. Styling & visual display for global brands can be very cutthroat. You have to immerse yourself in the brand & wear their clothing daily, even if it's not your style. It can be quite suffocating and the environment can be quite bitchy too.
What keeps you motivated?
Now my main motivation is the fact that it's a business with deadlines. It's not a hobby anymore. It's my living.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by my child, my own childhood, colour combinations I'll see randomly and current trends. I get a lot of inspiration from popular culture and iconic imagery that is instantly recognisable, for example Liquorice Allsorts and David Bowie. It's all quite random really. My daughter's drawings are also a huge part of the current collection and her My Little Pony obsession inspired our Unicorn print. My Pug print was actually an illustration from a children's book collaboration I was doing with a well known Irish author. He didn't quite fit the book but I loved him so had to try him on a romper!
Tell us about the theme for AW 16?
AW16 is all about sweets and sweet flavours. I really wanted to bring natural ecru into the collection and when I saw the fabric samples I thought they looked delicious! I started to mix small pots of colour and test print on to the fabric samples I had. Our pink is quite soft and natural so I thought 'nougat' would be great and 'caramel' for the natural cotton etc. I really wanted to simplify the images this season as my drawings are historically quite busy and complicated. The Doodle print is more of a 'non seasonal' design and is very popular. It's made exclusively from my daughter's artwork when she was three. I just loved her characters when she started to draw faces and thought they'd be great on clothing.
How do you keep the balance in your life?
I can't right now! That's just me being honest. Right now I'm so busy it can get very stressful and when all wholesale orders are out it will calm down a little. I'm finding my seasonal rhythm so it will all work out. The brand is still pretty new and we are finding our feet.
What do you do with your kids when you're not working?
We go on day trips around Dublin, draw, play games on the iPad, sing and dance! She's at the age where she can sit beside me and cuddle while I work on the laptop. It's great. We also screen print together.
What are the key items you have in your handbag that you cannot live without?
This is terrible but I don't use a handbag anymore. I'm always on the run with a few bits literally stuffed in my jeans pockets. Not very glamorous like the olden days when I'd stroll into work with a Marc Jacobs or a Mulberry bag on my arm. Shit's gotten seriously busy and I've unintentionally adopted a 90's grunge look. I can't live without my iPhone as I practically run my business from it. I also need my Elizabeth Arden 8 hour hand cream, as my hands are constantly dry due to all the printing. My Dublin Herbalists All Healing Salve and my L'Occitane lip balm (all miniatures bought at the airport as I constantly lose them due to my lack of handbag) are there too. Oh, and change for on-street parking on my daily travels!
Any busy mum / dad survival tips?
Stop feeling guilty about not spending enough time with your kids, you most likely are spending more than enough quality time with them! Don't be on your phone too late at night. Drink wine. Always carry baby wipes & alcohol gel in the car. Ask for help!