I first met Mel at Brunswick Street Gallery during an exhibition for Fashion Week in 2015. She is the ultimate rock n’ roll, Fitzroy Mum. Despite having 3 boys, she manages to always keep up an appearance at all the HEW runway shows and exhibitions and is widely known in the Melbourne community as a huge supporter for the young independent designers.
Recently Mel has launched her own brand ‘Run to Paradise’, which captures the fun and free-spirit of an island escape, without having to leave our real lives in the big smoke. It pays tribute to her childhood, growing up in Melbourne and Brisbane as an Aussie girl with Samoan heritage.
1. Most favourite memory of being a mother?
In 2013, we’d arrived to live in San Francisco for a year and were feeling a bit lost and vulnerable. Pregnant with Hector and walking the streets with Jai and Leo, I looked up and saw an imposing mother and child statue. I remember in that moment feeling the sheer magnitude of motherhood, and being ready for the challenges that lay ahead. Being so far from home, it really moved me - I felt as though I had accepted my mission to love and protect them, no matter what.
2. What are some weekly rituals you do together?
Cuddles in bed on Saturday mornings. Dancing around in the kitchen.
It’s not a weekly thing, but I love taking the boys to the fresh food hall at Vic Market. We all laugh when the butchers yell out their specials. Really, the boys are only there for the jam donuts, but I think it’s good to be exposed to that old, continental side of Melbourne. We then go home to cook a feast. It helps with that connection to our food.
3. Any tips for homeschooling or parenting during lockdown?
- I try to remind myself daily that we are ok, and that everyone is going through some kind of turmoil. Most of us didn’t sign up to be teachers. The reality is that no one else is expected to do this for us, so digging deep and getting on with it is a good start.
- Treat yourself by being really organised, but know when to stop trying so hard.
- Use your best energy in the morning to get the most work done. If the wheels fall off in the afternoon, that has to be ok for everyone’s sanity.
- Use screen time as a last resort. Don’t let the kids run wild for hours every day.
- Hang out with the kids outside of school time (even if they just see you sitting with them for a while). We go on bike rides together, but secretly that’s me on my own bike in my own space, feeling the cold air on my face = freedom.
- It’s also really important to insist on doing things for yourself;
- Wear stylish clothes or pop on some lipstick
- Frequent, short walks (sometimes catwalk at home)
- Face the sun - get your Vitamin D fix whenever you can
- Treat yourself to flowers, candles, new bedding, a bath etc.
- Pop in your ear buds - zone out with your favourite music or podcast.
- I’ve been watching Stateless, Brooklyn 99 and Making The Cut.
- Cook in batches when you can be bothered, so that when you’re having a day, you can just reach into the freezer and mindlessly grab something out.
4. Challenges of being a mother and running a business?
Holding your concentration, seeing jobs through to completion. Sometimes being creative while in command of a household proves too much, and creativity gets lost. Once you recognise this, though, you can take steps to work around it. Some days it just doesn’t work, no matter how enthusiastic we are. I guess you just take a breather and try again some other time, but the trick is to never stop trying. And, ask for help.
5. How do you like to spend Mother's Day?
Breakfast in bed with the papers. A long walk or family ride/drive to the country. Last year was really special because my Mum was with us. We walked Merri Creek, watched Dumplin’ in the afternoon and had champagne and a roast for dinner. It was the best. In 2020 I’ve had to arrange interstate deliveries for Mother’s Day. It’s not the same, but it’s all we have.
Top HEW picks of your Mother’s Day include