Words by Kate Pietrasik at Tootsa MacGinty.
"Before starting Tootsa I was working as a womenswear designer with sport and street wear brands (Tommy Hilfiger, Le Coq Sportif, Jack Wills, Roxy, Quiksliver). I’ve always had a keen interest in design and studied art and illustration at university in Australia and New York. I began working as a graphic designer and then morphed into product and fashion design."
"Tootsa began a year after I became a mother to my daughter. When shopping for clothing and toys for my new baby girl I was dismayed at the segregated aisles. It upset me greatly that the clothing on offer wasn’t very diverse and I was expected to choose from solely pink garments, or a variation of the shade. There seemed also to be a very narrow remit of acceptable prints and graphics on the girls clothing (kittens, bunnies, princesses, fairies, butterflies). And so I wandered into the ‘boy’s’ aisles, where I disappointingly found vehicles and aggressive animals on sludgy colours. I was sure there would be other parents like me looking for more choice and so I set about to create an alternative. The goal at Tootsa is to offer parents great quality, stylish kids clothing at a reasonable price. We design and manufacture collections that are age appropriate and don’t stereotype children, nor do we divide the garments into ‘girls’ and ‘boys’ sections."
"Inspiration comes from all sorts of places - music, art, fashion, film and also, of course from my daughter and her friends. Which is why I have to reign in my ideas by working to a theme. I usually pick a country or an area of the world and a culture that interests me, using the animals, flora and fauna, colours and patterns and traditional techniques from that region to create the basis of the collection."
"Becoming a parent throws a lot of things into perspective – My own longevity, legacy and mortality and the impact we have on the environment and our children’s futures. As a designer I would visit a lot of factories and would often question the need for the amount of ‘stuff’ we produce. Fast turn-around garments that would often end up as landfill once a trend had died. So I knew if I were to begin my own brand it would have to have a purpose, a message, a meaning, be classically designed and ethically produced."
"As a single parent it was quite hard trying to juggle looking after a new baby and beginning a business but the two went hand in hand. Tootsa was also born out of boredom – looking after a tiny baby on your own can be quite lonely and the evenings by myself were long so I partially started Tootsa to keep me busy! Now that Ruby is older it’s switching off that I find tricky. Tootsa is still run on a tiny team of staff and we all work really hard, around the clock. Ironically I now find it hard to put my laptop down and switch off my emails; it seems there is always something that needs starting or finishing. Giving Ruby my full attention is important for both of us and so I now try to switch work off once she is home from school and at the weekends."
"I’ve always thought that life was for living and making the world a better place for future generations. You only live once, as the saying goes, and we aren’t here for long - seeing my daughter grow so fast has put all of that into very sharp focus! So I suppose motherhood has taught me how important it is to do something that makes you proud, that’ll make a difference and ultimately make you, and therefore your children, happy."