Irina Ovrutsky on Lola + The Boys
Chicago-based mom, model, and now children’s designer, Irina Ovrutsky talks with The Garnette Report on her successful children’s clothing brand, Lola + The Boys. As well as her design process. In addition, Tamara Edwards, CEO of TE&Co, also joined in the conversation.
Tune in to her one-on-one discussion with The Garnette Report’s Charmaine Swasey.
CS: What sets Lola + The Boys apart from other children’s clothing brands?
Irina: I think what sets us apart is just that now it became recognizable. Which is really cool because we’re very into fun colors and sparkles. Even though you see that a lot, people see the brand like they spot it. Like “oh there’s a Lola bomber, there’s a Lola dress.” So there’s something with aesthetic now. And people can resonate with the designs so it’s really cool when they spot it out on the streets.
CS: How do you ensure that personality is showcased in each of your designs?
Irina: I just kind of always gravitate towards colorful, bright clothing with happy, fun art. Those just captures kids’ attentions and its always something I incorporate in my designs. When the right fit models try things like shoes, I love to see their reactions and responses. Their eyes light up with joy, that makes me so happy. So that I know that is definitely something we are gonna make. And to just keep producing things that get girls and boys excited by clothing they can wear every day to make them feel special.
CS: Where do you begin in your creative process?
Irina: I mean I’m always getting inspiration from everything I see. I’ve always been in fashion and love women’s fashion. So my favorite designers are the ones you see day to day.
CS: Who is your favorite designer, if you have one?
Irina: My favorite women’s designer, I would say I love Chanel and–I have a mix of different designers I enjoy.
CS: Are you often happy with the finished results of your designs?
Irina: Yes! Otherwise I would not be producing it so it has to be perfect or else it wouldn’t be made.
CS: Do you invoke your children in your brand as well?
Irina: Oh yeah, they my 3 kids are the inspiration behind the brand. Their names are Lola, Shai, and Julian and they’re what inspired me from the very beginning to start the brand. And they are always my foot models and tested fabrics for me. So they let me know what they liked an what they didn’t like. And they grew up wearing the brand also.
Tamara: So another interesting thing to note here is that Irina’s husband is a business person. So it’s kind of become this family business. Now she could just be in this stage of design. And her daughter also designs. And the boys helped out when they were little before they kind of started kind of blowing up.
You know they used to bring packages to the post office with and for her. And then her husband also came in and was like, ‘Oh wow! We’ve really got something big.’ So he’s come in to help mainly with the operational infrastructure so they could meet that scale. So the demand is there and the supply can be kept up.
So what’s interesting just for [me as] an observer is she’s kinda got a hand in every part of the business and it’s operationally efficient. But she just gets to be in her design space and it’s a family business and they own it. That’s why I’m so excited to work with them!
Irina: Without them I wouldn’t be able to do everything I have done so far, so it’s nice.
CS: What is your greatest strength as a children’s clothing designer?
Irina: Jut being able to find the balance of what moms are looking for and what kids want to wear. Just to hit the demographics of both and getting it right! And to make high-quality, comfortable clothing that’s not boring. I think that’s been a strength.
CS: Do you have any weakness as well?
Irina: Well I’m very artsy, but maybe not as organized as I would like to be. But it works so that’s fine!
CS: In your opinion, what are the most important aspects of children’s clothing?
Irina: Well comfort is number one for me. That and quality. If they are not in something soft that they love, then they’re not gonna want to wear it. And then obviously they have to feel confident and beautiful in what they’re wearing. It’s just the balance between both.
Tamara: Yeah, she tells this story where of when she was designing, she would ask her kids when they were smaller and when the brand was just eight years old, you know “What do you think?” And her kids would obviously tell the truth as kids do in general. [And] kids aren’t gonna wear something because it’s itchy or whatnot, or they don’t like it. So that’s what’s interesting you know, it’s not just that she went in with the design, she made it for her kids as well!
Irina: Yeah they’re like my little focus group! I’m lucky, basically having them you know growing up in my clothes knowing exactly what they liked and what they didn’t like. That helped a lot.
CS: Do you often follow the same themes?
Irina: Well the aesthetic is usually similar. And of course there’s different trends going on. But for the most part I feel like, once you see the clothes you’re gonna know. It’s our brand so I think it’s about a feeling. When you see it you’re like, “Oh wow! I recognize that!” So kind of keeping it the same but different if that makes sense. Changing it up enough, but not too much. We’re always looking to do new styles. But then we also have our core best sellers that are always gonna be with us.
CS: What advice would you give to those aspiring to be a children’s fashion designer like yourself?
Irina: Just as long as it’s something you love and have a passion for, just definitely go for it! You know you have that interest for something then you’re gonna succeed as long as you keep working at it and being consistent and not giving up. Even when things are hard. If you love it, then just keep doing it.
CS: Which celebrities kids did you enjoy seeing your designs the most? Such as Beyonce’s daughter for example?
Irina: Yeah I think that was definitely a huge moment. Just getting to see both Blue Ivy and one of her twins, Rumi, [were] wearing the same sequin bombers, I was like wow! She really loves that bomber! That was very cool. And Vanessa Bryan’s daughters were both wearing our bombers to the concerts that were going on this summer. Both Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Paris Hilton was in the store shopping and almost bought the whole store! I mean, we’ve had some cool moments with celebs and their kids.
CS: Is Lola + The Boys gender specific?
Irina: It’s pretty specific. I wouldn’t say it’s gender neutral at all. But, generally everyone can wear it.
Tamara: And we’ve just launched a collaboration with DC Comics for Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman line. So more clothes, more options for boys, and also sort of matching for mom. [It’s] a “Mom and Me” line. And in the future, there will be a “Teenage line.” Then she’ll continue to explore other partnerships with big brands. And now in the next couple of months, another big iconic American brand is what Irina will be designing next for.
CS: Would you be open to doing a father’s line as well?
Irina: yeah, I’ve actually had some dads ask about that, so perhaps on Father’s Day we could do some matching of Dad and Son hoodies, or something cool like that. But definitely like the girls and the women’s stuff is more popular with us . But it will be fun to get to do the DC Comics clothing for the boys and integrate more styles for them.
More on Lola + The Boys
The brand was born in Chicago in 2016. Its #1 aim is to reimagine kid’s fashion as boldly fun, but comfy. Moreover, founder and designer Irina Ovrutsky grew her inspiration to design for the brand through her 3 children. She became motivated by the playful, sparkly allure of unicorns, rainbows, and other common children’s interests! What’s more, the brand is so successful, that even the children of celebrities such as Beyoncé, the late Kobe Bryant, and Lance Bass are rocking its colorful, lively designs!
Lastly, feel free to explore more fun, vibrant styles designed by Irina at Lolaandtheboys.com.
As a bonus, check out these new designs for Lola + The Boys inspired by DC Comics!