Behind whimsical children’s label Tutu Du Monde is German-born, Sydney-based designer Andrea Rembeck. Having developed an ardently popular profile across the globe for children’s dresses that are reminiscent of ethereal French ballet costumes,at the heart of Tutu Du Monde is a sense of pure joy. Before creating Tutu Du Monde ten years ago, Andrea established herself as a celebrated designer under her own label and as a design consultant behind fashion’s biggest success stories in Australia. Ahead of Mother’s Day, X Files has captured Andrea’s amazing work ethic in our interview below. Image courtesy of Tutu Du Monde; Andrea and her daughter Alyna.
What does a day look like for you?
My day starts early with exercise and coffee at Bondi Beach before work. This creates mental space and calmness for me to face a fast-paced day ahead. Once I’m at work I spend the first hours of my day liaising with partners and teams in the US while they’re online due to the time difference. We work almost continuously throughout the year with our creative team in LA on shoot concepts, talent castings etc. This year we are also planning several activations globally for Tutu du Monde’s 10-year anniversary which is starting to take up time in my daily routine. My big love though is the creative for which I never have enough time as part of my day also involves checking in with all other areas of the business, from production, wholesale and online to marketing. Never enough hours in the day…
Tell us about your background and formal training in Germany, and then Australia.
On graduating from ESMOD, the prestigious French fashion college, I was asked to design for ESCADA. However, I followed my dream of migrating to Australia, drawn by my longing for adventure, a relaxed lifestyle and pleasant climate.Here I consulted for a number of leading Australian brands including Collette Dinnigan. Then I started designing my own womenswear brand, which was represented in Australasia and the US. But then I had a little daughter and a new ‘era’ started when Tutu du Monde was born.
Left: Image courtesy of The Grace Tales. Right: Portrait of Andrea Rembeck.
How did Tutu Du Monde come to life?
Tutu du Monde began with my quest for a ‘ballerina dress’ for my own little daughter – a then four-year-old fussy dresser! Faced with market offerings of uninspired and uninspiring mass-produced, pink polyester, I instinctively drew on my own design aesthetic and experience and decided to create my own tutus. Thus, the brand was born and formally launched in 2009. What I initially considered a ‘side-project’ soon took over my life.
How do you stay inspired and focused?
I try and have balance in my life which is a lot easier said than done especially when you juggle a fast-growing business and family life. In very busy and quite stressful times, I make sure I carve out time to exercise and eat well to stay mentally focused. It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture sometimes when a lot is happening. As for inspiration, I get most inspired when I’m travelling, removed from the everyday office life. It seems as soon as I get on a plane, I remove myself from the day to day routine and ideas come flooding in.
You spend a lot of time liaising with your international contacts and suppliers. How do you approach this?
I travel quite a lot; I go to India once or twice a year for inspiration and to check in with our suppliers – old and new; most of them are a bit like family. We have been working with them for a long time and there is a lot of care. It is also very fascinating to observe how our sketches get interpreted and turned into actual garments. There are also the biannual tradeshows from Florence and Paris to New York and this year also Shanghai as China has shown very strong growth for us. And lastly, I spend a lot of time in LA where we shoot most of our campaigns. With so much travel it is important to be well organized and have the year ahead quite planned out.
What advice would you give someone influenced by your career path of creating their own dream business?
Find your niche and be genuine. It will never be a hard sell or feel like hard work when you do something you believe in, something you enjoy and you’re passionate about. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. At the same time be prepared to work harder than you ever have. Take risks, don’t be afraid to fail, most importantly you need to become resilient and pick yourself up again. NO business is without challenges.
What challenges have you experienced in owning your own business?
Especially, in a fashion business challenges are ever present. There are many steps from the initial design of a garment to it being delivered, on time, instore. That means of course so many things can go wrong along the way. Also, with a business being global it is not always easy to just jump on a plane and see someone overseas. It requires foresight and planning since Australia is just not very close to anywhere. But the biggest challenge would be that you can simply never be completely ‘off’. It’s hard for me to go on holidays and not be contactable.
Tutu Du Monde campaign.
How do you measure success?
Being able to do what I love most – having a creative outlet and travel. I feel very grateful for being able to bring joy to little girls (and their mothers). Childhood is such a fleeting moment in our fast-paced world, so I feel very lucky to be able to contribute to creating memories of special moments in life.
What words do you live by?
Don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Oh…and never give up.
What is your personal style philosophy?
I think my style has become simpler over the years. I’m a pants/jean and (good) tee girl teamed with a great coat and fabulous shoes. I love a great (Isabel Marant) blouse or 10! And have a shoe collection that needs its own room soon (apparently). Definitely less but better, good quality that outlast fleeting trends and can be worn for years. Working in fashion, I am acutely aware of the damage fast fashion does our planet and our children’s planet.
How does being a mum to gorgeous Alyna inspire you?
It inspires me to be a good role model. I am a strong believer that doing what we love doing – our work - also makes us better mums. For me, having maybe less time available means that the time I spend with Alyna is more considered and meaningful. I also know that showing her strong work ethic will rub off on her. It already is, she does expresses that she’s proud of me and understand that you have to work hard to become successful. She loves coming into our office in the holiday and help the team and I love having her around during work hours.
Our customers, not the little ones but their mothers have asked us for years to make tutu-style skirts for them, so we have decided to start with some beautifully beaded tulle skirts…