Interview with Cheyenne of Hugo Loves Tiki:

Today we are interviewing Cheyenne of Hugo Loves Tiki. This line is a favorite of ours, we love the bold prints, unisex patterns and European look. 

What is your inspiration for your current collection? 

AW15 is our very first fully manufactured season, so I just made designs that have been in my head for the last year and tried to integrate them with color.  Very unisex european and we always throw in some fruit.  I can't help myself :)

But, for SS16, when designing I tried harder to integrate the collection to have a story.  Geometric shape, flower, and rainbow patterns that look like they were drawn by children.  And, hopefully we can translate those patterns into women's wear without them being too silly and to be more sophisticated wear to lounge about in the house or run errands.  Our goal is to integrate fun and sophistication so both mama and kiddo can match and both feel connected to each other without compromising each other's style spirit.  Integrating mother to child is a lot harder with summer.  Sweatshirts are much easier. 

How do you brainstorm ideas for new collections?

I am mostly inspired by my children.  Whatever Hugo is into at the moment, I use this as a starting block.  He is really into ninjas and I was trying to think of how to design a ninja hood for AW16.  Designing a year in advance is a little nerve-wracking as another designer could have the same idea a season or two ahead of you and then all the work you have done is wasted.  Case in point NUNUNU just came out with a ninja hood this season and it is gorgeous.  At least it is validation that I am on the right track and this is what I am supposed to be doing.  So, you just pick up and move on to the next idea.  I also look to vintage graphic artist work, book covers for color combination inspiration, vintage ads, pictures of animals, food signs, fonts, the list is endless really.  I struggle with whatever I am designing and asking myself is this true to what I like as a designer.  Would I buy this.  It's hard when you are in it and it is yours.  Nothing ever seems good enough.  I like something one minute, the next day hate it, a week later I'm in love again.  It is really an emotional roller coaster.  Picking and perfecting and grouping all my designs for one season is a bit torturous.  I am looking into hiring a design student to help with tech packs, bouncing ideas back and forth, and fabric knowledge as the technical side of designing is not my forte.  If I have time in the next year, I have been looking into going to design school part-time.

Describe your typical work day.

After my husband (it feels weird calling him my fiance since we have been together 16 years and engaged for the last 8, so I call him my husband) leaves around 6am which is when Roman our 9 month old wakes up.  I feed Roman and then lay back in bed while he morning naps and then Hugo comes in and gets in bed with us and watches ninja cartoons while I catch up on emails and instagram.

After breakfast, I hang out with my boys and continue to catch up with social media while I plan my afternoon work check list.  Once, the baby is ready for a morning nap, I get Hugo sorted with toys, outside, or play-do works really well as a time occupier or the ipad (I know this is so bad, but it is really the only way I can get work done sometimes). One of my best friends is a sitter and I drop the boys off with her once or twice a week to get bulk printing orders done.

I take a few hours and try to catch up on all emails, check in with our manufacturer and work on next season, print order sheets and make more lists and more lists.  The lists never ends.

Just recently, I have been able to get both boys down for a nap at the same time, which gives me a solid 2 hours to either stare at the wall in silence or do more work.  <---this may not sound wonderful, but it is. if it's quiet, it's wonderful.  Having a toddler and a baby is definitely a juggling game.  Especially, when your toddler is super humanly loud and crazy and wakes the baby up at every nap.  I once read that you cannot "balance" your creative self-employed work life with your family life.  You are constantly thinking of the other when you are doing the one.  But, it's more of an integration.  You just accept that they are both woven into each other and that is okay, it is all one.  You can't shut either off, but you CAN be in the moment with your children and not always in your head.

Our goal for next year is to be doing well enough to where my husband will be able to quit his job as a teacher and stay at home with us and pursue his writing while we both take care of the children together.  It sounds like a fantasy to us, as this has always been something we said in passing as a joke that we never really thought would be a reality.  One step at a time and we are achieving some major life fantasy goals and it feels surreal.  

How did you get where you are today as a designer?

I have always wanted to be a designer since I was a little girl.  I have vivid memories of drawing models wearing evening gowns and thinking that I was a horrible illustrator and would never be able to do it in real life.  And, that fear stuck with me all throughout my adult life.  I still pursued art, but stayed away from drawing as much as you can with an Art degree.  It wasn't until Hugo was 1 and I was a stay at home mom living in my mother's house while my husband was working nights and on his 3rd graduate degree trying to pull us out of poverty.  I was a wedding photographer and doing really well in Chicago before we moved home to Indiana.  But, the stress of shooting weddings was taking away all the creative joy and Indiana did not really appreciate alternative wedding photography at the time.  I knew I didn't want to go back to waiting tables and then Instagram entered my life.  I was instantly connected to hundreds of creatives making their dreams come true and tons of people were responding to it.  It was unbelievable.  This is where I was given the confidence to pursue my dream.  Especially, since my poor drawing skills that looked like children's drawings really became valuable.  It's funny how something that was such a negative force in my life turned into my number one resource for making my dreams really come true.  

Any advice for budding designers?

Yes, you can make it happen!  You don't have to start out manufacturing with a $100,000 budget.  Finding a manufacturer is extremely difficult since they don't advertise and no other brand wants to reveal their source.  USA manufacturers are extremely expensive and they won't usually take you on as a client if you have no idea what you are doing.  If you have no design background, t shirt screen printing or heat press is an easy and affordable way to start without a lot of risk.  This is exactly how we started out.  I had a $3,000 budget (money from my husband's grad school refund), but I now know that you can do it for even cheaper than this if you print/heat press yourself, which is what we did after wasting money on a few screen printing companies that gave us sub par prints.  I only recommend printing yourself if you are extremely driven in this field as it is a bear.  I also recommend lots and lots and lots of research and then research some more.  Become an expert.  But, if you ARE lucky enough to have a bit of money to invest in yourself, I recommend NOT doing it yourself as it is a lot of work, very time consuming, exhausting and can quickly take over your life.  

Also, don't worry about what everyone else is doing.  That will consume you and bring nothing but pain and torture.  From time to time, I worry about my competitors and why don't I have as many followers on IG as them or wonder if they are outselling me or a myriad of other depressing insecure feelings that can easily consume someone and squash any original creative ideas and content.  So, I try to put on blinders and look up.  How can I move forward?  What steps should I be taking to move to the next level to be more creatively fulfilled? What do I want to create?  If you start worrying about everyone else, you won't be yourself and that is what people want, original art content with a unique voice they haven't seen before.  Staying true to your vision will be the only thing that makes you truly happy no matter how many instagram followers you have.

How did you celebrate your first sale?

Our very first sale was a $1.00 temporary tattoo.  I was over the moon and stuffed a thousand large multicolored confetti inside and shipped it with love.  I did doubt if we would ever sell a t shirt if this was our first sale, but it snowballed quite quickly and I don't think I've stopped smiling since.

Coffee, tea or neither?

neither:  soda water everyday all day!


You can shop our collection of Hugo Loves Tiki here and enjoy 10% off with code "welovehugo"!