Accidental designer, Sharon Oved created her line of ridiculously-cute line of babywear unexpectedly, and with a single product. Since 2004 however that line has blossomed and has been featured in national magazines and used by a long list of celebrity clients, including: Celine Dion, Halle Berry, Brooke Shields, and Tim Allen.
With sweet beginnings Sharon created her first product--a designer 4-in-1 nursing shawl—after being shunned for breast-feeding her children in public, repeatedly. Out of a unique need for a fashionable item that allows women to breast-feed in public L'ovedbabies was born. Since then the boutique brand has grown to include baby clothing, arms-free swaddlers, blankets, bibs and burping cloths.
Sharon's goal with the line is to blend function and fashion—in an adorable package. The babywear line helps all mothers to “make their baby a L'ovedbaby”.
We recently caught up with this accidental entrepreneur, to ask her about her experience in the industry and for advice to our readers who are hoping to intentionally follow in her footsteps:
This career path actually arose out of a difficult personal issue. After my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 45, I researched the disease and found out that breastfeeding greatly reduces a woman's risk of getting breast cancer. So, when I found out I was pregnant with my first child I vowed to nurse her for one year. It was much harder than I imagined to breastfeed while out and about, so I created a simple nursing cover for
myself. With lots of encouragement from friends, family and even strangers to begin manufacturing this much-needed product, I designed a much more stylish Nursing Shawl that was the debut product of L'ovedbaby. The company has since grown to include a full line of Cotton Basics Clothing for newborn through 24m, Arms-Free Swaddlers, and more.
What is your focus within the industry?
We strive to create innovative products that are both practical and stylish. Currently, we primarily design apparel and other soft goods.
What type of education did it take to get you where you are today?
For me, it was --and still is-- a lot of trial and error. My degree is in education, and I'm a former middle-school teacher and advisor for UCLA's Teacher Education Program. I also studied graphic design for fun after college, but I don't have a fashion design background, so it's been a lot of hard work and learning from my mistakes.
How has your career path progressed over the years?
Initially, I was just focused on getting my Nursing Shawl out in stores so other breastfeeding moms could benefit from them. I did not imagine that 7 years later, I would be designing a full line of infant apparel. It's definitely been a fun ride and I'm excited to see where L'ovedbaby will be at our 10-year mark.
What is your favorite part of working in the fashion/design business?
Customers' feedback and excitement about our products. It's very gratifying to see babies wearing my designs and hear from moms how much they love the line. It makes all the hard work very worthwhile.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashionistas?
Look at trends, get inspired, but ultimately do what YOU feel is right. If you think it looks good, chances are that many others will agree.
What school(s) does your company generally recruit new hires from?
At this point, all of the design work is still done by me. As we grow even bigger, we hope to look toward a variety of schools to find aspiring designers so that we get an eclectic mix to keep things fresh.
Do you think there is an overall increasing or decreasing need for people
in the fashion industry?
I think there will always be a need for people in the fashion industry. With media playing a big role, today's consumers are much more fashion-conscious than those of past decades.
Which roles in the fashion industry do you think will offer the best career
opportunities moving forward? eg. designer, PR, entrepreneur, etc.?
I think there's a need for all of these roles. It's not enough to own a company...you need great designers...and you need the get the word out about what you have to offer. So, there has to be a balance of business sense, design skills, and social media knowledge.
What designer(s) or brand(s) influenced you the most as a creative
Personally, I like clean lines, simplicity of design and a tailored, yet comfortable, fit. I think this is especially important in the design of baby wear since little ones cannot tell you if a button is bothering them or their pants are too tight. While I don't have one specific designer who "influenced" me the most, I appreciate the aesthetic of Coco Chanel's designs.
Do you think today's jobs in the fashion industry require more of an
artist's touch or business-like ruthlessness?
While some business sense is a definite necessity, I think it's more important to hone the artistic side. Fashion is an art form. If you are truly a designer at heart, follow that path. You can always hire a "ruthless business-person" if that's your ultimate goal. Flexibility, open-mindedness, creativity, and risk-taking.
What do you think the future of fashion and design holds?
Lots of great things we have yet to create. With advances in technology, we're just at the starting line of an endless array of possibilities!
Check out more interviews at The Fashion-Schools.org Interview Series.