An Interview with Molly Goodall, Founder of Little Goodall
What inspired you to start Little Goodall?
When my son Carter was born I found that the creative pursuits I enjoyed before his birth were difficult to fit into the time I had available to work on them. It was also more important than ever for me to find a bit of time to create in some way, to balance out the exhaustion of new motherhood.
Sewing for him filled that creative need as well as the want to make clothing I felt reflected his personality, which I was not finding in stores or online. I could take 30 minutes or an hour when he was napping and cut a project, then pick it up where I left off later on and sew a few seams during another nap or after his bedtime.
In the beginning I made simple shirts and rompers out of vintage materials in classic shapes. When Carter was about two years old he had recurring ear infections, and his pediatrician impressed upon us that it would help if he kept his ears covered when playing outdoors (which was his favorite thing). The problem was that he disliked hats and coat hoods (and coats in general) and would pull them off immediately. This was in the back of my mind when a bolt of woolfelt in a rich golden color at the local fabric store gave me an idea. The fabric was so tactile and cozy, and the color suggested a lion, which led me to the idea of making a coat with a hood that looked like a lion. If his coat served some other purpose than just keeping him warm – a creative purpose, inspiring him to play, perhaps – he might wear the hood when playing outside.
A few days of pattern drafting and sewing followed, resulting in the very first Ferocious Felt Lion coat. My hypothesis was correct – he loved the coat! It was difficult to get him to take it off inside or outside, it was so much fun to prowl and roar like a lion. Whenever he wore it out in public people would comment and ask where they could find one, and that was the beginning of Little Goodall!
Looking back it doesn’t seem strange that I started a childrenswear brand. I was the only student in my graduating class at Parsons who had a focus on childrenswear, and I had been a toy designer before moving to Texas and marrying my husband. It just took the birth of my own child to send me back in that original direction.
What’s been your favorite piece you’ve designed, thus far?
My favorite piece always seems to be the one that’s just coming together in my mind and sketchbook! In general it’s the coats, I just love coats – wearing a beautiful coat when you go out is like a dazzling smile to embrace the world. It simultaneously protects you like a cocoon and announces your arrival. Why would you want a coat that’s boring?
What’s your current favorite piece in the collections?
I love the Rainbow Dreamer coat from last season, and the Swan Princess dress is my favorite from Spring/Summer 18 because I love blue on little girls! The bubble rompers (shop Elle’s here) are also summer favorites. They were inspired by one of my favorite American designers, Claire McCardell.
Where do you typically find inspiration for your designs?
Fashion and pop culture and children’s books, and certain animals seem to be interesting at different times. Who would have imagined five years ago that llamas and alpacas would be so popular right now? Sometimes it’s a color palette or fabric that suggests an idea to me, and it tumbles around in my head until the right shape and fabrication falls into place.
Aside from Little Goodall, you have written a book, and most importantly, you’re a mom! You certainly keep busy. What’s your advice when it comes to balancing it all?
I think, first and foremost, it’s important to remember that your children are little for such a short time that being present with them needs to be prioritized, and what this means will be different for every family.
I’ve worked consistently since sewing that first lion coat, and thankfully been really fortunate to be able to involve my son in a lot of what I do. Because of this he understands what I am doing and why it’s important for me to do it. My studio is at home and is attached to the playroom, so we are often working and playing side by side. He has known the vendors and craftspeople that make Little Goodall garments since he was tiny and he feels involved.
We often schedule family travel around work trips. For example, last year when we went to Playtime Paris to show the Spring/Summer 18 collection, my husband, son and I stayed an extra week and explored Paris before the show and England afterwards.
We all want to pursue things we are passionate about, and time is our most valuable commodity, so if you look for ways to integrate your children’s schedule with yours in small ways they will feel connected and important during times when work is stressful. You are also modeling the skills they need to pursue the things they are passionate about when they are adults, which is, I think, what we all want for our children!
What’s next for Little Goodall? Anything you can share?
I am SUPER excited about an upcoming collaboration with the illustrator Willa Heart. When I first saw Aly’s playful work I knew it would be fantastic embroidered on coats for children, and to be honest I kinda want one myself! We have both coats and dresses featuring her illustrations coming up for A/W18 and S/S19, and they are divine.