Who wants wraps with vicuna? We have a new Russian manufacturer on the wrap-marker, ready to experiment within the high-end segment. We really should pay attention to this newcomer, as its founder, Elena Moskaleva, has already created a successful brand – Lemonlooms handwovens. Also, she’s done over 30 official photo-shoots for famous brand Artipoppe. And of course, she’s got a stash to die for! Her new creation is called Minako. Let’s take a closer look!
When I first got into baby wearing three years ago, I had no idea this would become my business. It all comes with new ideas and ambitions. A year ago I thought «Wow, shooting for Artipoppe – what could be cooler?» Well, it is cool, but not as cool as selling wraps under your own brand and making good money off it! And enjoying yourself as well.
How did you decide to make your own brand?
The idea came a long time ago, from the time when I started working on my hand-wovens brand. But at the time it seemed impossible – machine wovens are a lot more complicated to produce. You need great designs, good quality yarns (and a much bigger quantity of those yarns), as well as (and this is the hardest part) finding a textiles mill in Russia. Unfortunately, our textile industry is in a bad shape, so that took some effort. So, the logical conclusion is that this also required quite a budget. It wasn’t just buying a cart of yarn and paying for 5 meters of fabric.
I’m always driven by my competitive spirit. While I was considering my ideas, the first Russian manufacturers popped up. And I started thinking «you’re all doing all wrong, let me show how it’s to be done».
And how is it to be done? What are your ideals?
I guess it’s how I do it. That’s the way I see it. Any manufacturer will do what he likes best, otherwise he’ll never succeed, obviously. At the same time I can say that I’m always not entirely satisfied with myself and my results. Can say why.
What wraps do you like?
Speaking of machine-wovens, it’s obviously Artipoppe, the leader of the market today. The design is perfect (I mean the most popular patterns), the yarn, the quality of the fabric, the marketing… It’s all very close to my own heart. I know that there’s a lot of people who disagree with me here, but everyone has their own taste… I also like the marketing, production, and the general concept of Woven Wings. They don’t waste themselves on different things, they have chosen a segment of the market and they follow that strategy. They’ve found their fans and they work for them.
Tell us more about your designs, blends, marketing?
About the marketing – I was never interested in mass-market, not as a baby wearing mama, or as a manufacturer. I love the creative process and its results, so when I decided to go ahead with these machine-wovens, I knew right away that I wanted this to be expensive, beautiful and high-quality.
Blends were the easiest part – I had already sourced yarns for Lemonlooms.
The hardest part were the designs. I wanted them to be special and unique. But with there being so many different wrap brands around today, it’s really difficult to do something entirely unique. I really wanted to do something with fishes. In the high-end segment no one had done anything fishy in a long time, and people seem to have forgotten about them. Following that idea I found some more sea-themed patterns: stripes that look like waves, leaves that remind you of sea-weed, and a few upcoming other ones. I like simple patterns, not too punky, not tool classic – something that works for everyone, that everyone can enjoy.
Wasn’t it scary – starting up a high-end brand in this bad economy?
It’s always scary to start something new. But it will never work unless you try. The scariest part was not the economy, but how many brands were out there already. What if no one will want it? Why do something new when so many wraps exist already? This project isn’t something I started for the money – it’s because of my own ambitions. If it doesn’t work out, that they way it sometimes happens.
Who supports you?
Ha, interesting question. Mostly it’s my family. Even my closest friends were quite skeptical – there wasn’t much enthusiasm, more like «yeah, okay».
How do you see yourself in one years time?
I don’t even plan a month ahead, not to mention a year. I try not to fantasize too much about the future.
What do you think, who are your target-audience?
I would love to draw some interest from the Russian baby wearing mamas. In my feed I see a lot of stashes made from 30 stripy wraps – I want there to be more beauties! I came to the baby wearing community when Oscha was at their peak of popularity. Wrap-addicts were different back then. You can’t help noticing that prices were different back then, too. But it was another level. Now, prices are higher mostly because of the high-quality yarns. Of course I would like to get some attention from Western mamas as well, not so much to show them something new, but to prove that we are also able to make great wraps. For some reason a lot of Western mamas tend to be reserved against Russians, that needs to change.
You used to photograph for Artipoppe. How did Anna react to your decision to start up your own brand?
That was the question that worried me the most when I considered starting Minako. I was prepared, I knew we would have to part ways. But I kept waiting for a better time to tell her about it, waiting for it to be a better moment… Unfortunately, someone told her before I had the chance. I don’t bother trying to find out who did it, but it was obviously someone who wanted us to part ways badly. On one hand, I was quite upset by the way it turned out. On the other – I was prepared for a negative reaction, so I recovered quickly. Shooting for AP was a lot of fun, it felt very prestigious, but I needed to go further, and when you move ahead, something is bound to break to form something new. I’m sorry about the loss of a friendship, but life has lately been teaching me to accept things the way they are, its the only way to survive. In terms of benefit for my business, now I can at least go ahead with my plans and ideas without looking back at ethical matters. There is no friendship in business.
How did you come up with the name Minako?
Names are always difficult. I wanted something simple, different, something that wouldn’t make you think of other brands. So I started looking towards the Japanese theme. «Minako» means «beautiful child» in Japanese. So one could say that this brand is my beautiful child. The main idea is that every mother thinks her child is most beautiful one of all, and that we like to keep our kids not only clean, healthy and loved, but also beautiful – it’s a big part of the harmony and happiness of parenthood. If you want to add some joy and beauty to everyday life – just wrap with something beautiful, and the day instantly becomes more special!
What blends should we expect?
There’s a huge choice of blends – from linen to the most expensive wools. Hard to say just yet – a lot depends on the demand, I can always buy the best yarns.. A few Russian mamas have been asking about customs with vicuna – if everything works out, why not? Then there’ s another aspect we’re forgetting – in a few months I’ll be a mother to a new baby, and for me and my squish I’ll make all my wishes come true.
Who helps you come up with patterns?
There are two designers. One designed one pattern, the others are created by my head designer. He created four patterns.
A provocative question – how much money do you need to start up your own high-end brand?
When will sales start?
I plan to sell the first wraps before the 20th of July. I like July – my son was born in July, my own birthday is in July – it’s a productive time for my family. Which is why everything is pointing at the first sales being around July 20.
Interviewed: Nina Arkhipova.
Pictures: Elena Moskaleva, Minako