FRANK & NORA
Limerick-born Stephanie O’Sullivan (38) works as a senior interior designer at HJL Architects while running Frank & Nora in her spare time from her home in Dublin, which she shares with her husband Graham, and children Sally (5) and Sophie (1). I only know her as owner and designer of childrenswear label Frank & Nora, but it comes as no surprise to learn of Stephanie O’Sullivan’s ‘day job’ as an interior designer. In fact, she had no real desire to walk the line between interiors and fashion until her first baby, Sally, was born and she was met with a sea of pink, impractical, badly-made clothing.
“I was shocked by the clothes on offer for newborns,” notes Stephanie. “They were either very cleverly designed but not aesthetically pleasing, or beautiful and totally impractical — but practical can be beautiful.” O’Sullivan has proven that with her stylish, modern relaxed baby-wear designs that are made from organic cotton.
“It seems to be acceptable that because the clothes you’re buying are for a baby, they shouldn’t have much of a lifespan. Not only is it terrible for the environment
Wbut it’s encouraging a throwaway society.” She started three years ago with the iconic badger print pyjamas, which are still her favourite item and a bestseller. Although she works with an illustrator, it’s very much a homegrown business; even her husband has been relegated to the couch so their bed can be used as a ‘studio’. But her priority has always been to find the perfect fabric, to ensure its specification and treatment is authentic and safe. The cotton is sourced in Peru and then knitted/woven by a sewing house in Istanbul. Choosing organic cotton is a slow fashion process — even the land on which its grown must be drained over the course of three years to rid it of toxins — but the rewards are huge. “Not only are you creating a durable, skin-friendly, luxury product, you are also directly affecting the lives of the communities and families who work in the cotton industry and protecting the environment,” notes Stephanie, whose advice to anyone starting out reflects this, “be authentic to what you’re offering, do one really good product that becomes your signature brand and know that if you’re going to do it properly, it takes time. And, in the words of Steve Martin… ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you!’” frankandnora.com
It seems to be ACCEPTABLE that because the clothes are for a BABY, they shouldn’t have much of a lifespan