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Elevate

The Making of an Inaugural Collection

When the future first daughter of the country contacts you three weeks before the Presidential Inauguration and asks you to design an inaugural collection for her children, there's little time to do anything except get to work. 

Join me for a personal view of how Petit Peony founding owner and designer Kate Bowen took on this exact challenge when she opened her e-mail on the drive home from a family ski vacation.  Three weeks later she watched her designs moving across her television screen with Arabella wearing a navy Blue wool coat and velvet dress to the historic wreath laying ceremony and all three children sporting Petit Peony designs to the National Prayer Service on Saturday. It was a dream come true for Kate to see her designs land in the press alongside world-renowned designer Oscar de la Renta.  

Kim:  Can you put into one word how you felt when you were asked to design a collection for the inaugural events? 

Kate:  SHOCKED. But then immediate excitement with the thought that my designs could possibly be on the world’s stage in just a few weeks!  

 

Kim:  How did Ivanka discover Petit Peony? 

Kate:  Ivanka was introduced to Petit Peony last spring. She became a customer and featured Petit Peony on her #womenwhowork campaign last fall. I sent Arabella a few custom designs for fall with a patriotic flair for the campaign.  

Kim:  With a controversial political climate, did you hesitate at all to accept Ivanka’s offer?

Kate:  No, I’m not a political person. Ivanka Trump is so much more than our first daughter. She is a fashion mogul herself, a mother of three, a female entrepreneur and someone who is dedicated to elevating other female entrepreneurs through the Ivanka Trump #womenwhowork campaign.  She proved her commitment to this mission by asking me, a designer without formal design training, to create designs I had never created before such as wools coats, formal dresses, blouses and jon jons for a momentous event in our country’s history that world famous designers take part in.

 

Kim:  What were the steps you took as a designer to create a unique collection from scratch in only three weeks? 

Kate: Ivanka sent me inspirational photos and colors she was interested in. I then quickly got to work sketching, and went for a run. Running is where I find inspiration and clarity during design sessions. I love traditional tailored looks and relied upon what I would dress my own three children in. Within three hours I had the collection drafted and sent over to Ivanka for her review. She was vacationing in Hawaii and responded very quickly. When I received her response, my stomach dropped. She loved everything. She even used capital letters LOVE on certain pieces in the collection. Being in fashion herself, she did have a few suggestions. I tweaked the specs slightly and immediately got to work. I was so fortunate to find a company in Massachusetts that has a high end sample room. Kathryn (founder and owner) of Good Clothing Company cleared her schedule and committed to producing this collection in just ONE week since we needed time for fittings. I skyped with the children to get their exact measurements, and then worked with my design firm who also dropped everything to create tech paks and specs in ONE day. I sourced fabric from NYC over the phone for the wool, used one of my tried and true US suppliers for the velvet, and Kathryn helped me source the silk for the lining. 

I visited NY three times coupling the trips with other business. The navy blue wool coat and velvet dress fit Arabella perfectly. We had zero alterations for the first fitting. I had a couple of suggestions, but I was told that everything was beautiful and they were so incredibly gracious. After that fitting I was asked to design a SECOND set of clothing for another inaugural event. I was ecstatic! That is where the ivory wool coat and dress Arabella wore to the National Prayer service came into play, along with the boys wool coats and rompers. Being in sales I’ve taught myself to never celebrate until the deal is done.  When my friend Backy sent me a photo from the daily mail of Arabella wearing the Navy Blue ensemble on her way to the wreath ceremony, I immediately had an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. I also realized I hadn’t really taken a breath in three weeks!

 

Kim:  What is different about creating a collection for a specific customer versus designing a collection for your overall audience? 

Kate:  The main difference was I had a color scheme to work within. I do believe Ivanka presented me with this opportunity because she feels a connection to my brand and confident in our designs. She loves traditional, tailored looks as much as I do.

 

Kim:  Can you share a moment during your design of the inaugural election that panicked you at the moment but at which you can now look back and laugh? 

Kate:  YES! This moment I will never forget. I received a phone call the evening before the family was leaving for Washington; a button popped off Arabella’s ivory coat while Ivanka was trying it on her! I nearly dropped dead. Everyone remained calm and asked me to send backup buttons. The Good Clothing Company whipped up a sewing kit, and off to Washington it went. Due to increased security, the family never received the package. I was incredibly disappointed.  I was visiting my Dad in Florida at the time and realized the button fiasco could mean the end of the coat. I didn’t realize Arabella would wear the ivory coat until I saw the live news coverage! I was swimming with my kids and heard from my mom via text; we were shocked and questioned if Arabella was even wearing the Petit Peony coat!  We replayed Arabella walking down the church aisle countless times and determined YES that is THE coat!  All I could think was- wow this really happened- the first grandchildren wore Petit Peony to two out of three inaugural events. I later found out that the button was super glued on the coat for Arabella.  I will be forever grateful.

 

Kim:  In what way has Ivanka's willingness to give such a huge opportunity to a small business elevated you and the Petit Peony brand? 

Kate:  After speaking with Ivanka the Monday after the Inauguration and hearing her genuine words of gratitude and encouragement for me and for the brand, I was inspired to do more and to give more. Ivanka elevated me, she elevated me as a designer, a business owner, and elevated my ability to perform under pressure. My gratitude for this opportunity pushed me to want to continue doing as much as possible for others, particularly other women.  

Soon after the Inauguration, Petit Peony brought on a philanthropic director, and we created our Global Giving philanthropic mission.  Since the fall, we have had a mission trip planned to Honduras to elevate and support women and their children living in extreme poverty by providing, clothing, blankets, food and building homes. We continue to work with a local Boston charity Room to Grow, providing low income new moms with clothing for their babies.

Elevate is dedicated to supporting our amazing customers by telling their stories. I’m so inspired when I reach out to a customer after an order and organically we exchange stories on how we are raising our children while striving for balance every day and trying not to lose ourselves in the process.

Finally, as Petit Peony continues to expand, I have brought on an extraordinary team of women to support, celebrate and grow the world of Petit Peony!

 

 

Although she may not even realize it herself, Kate is also touching the lives of women in her community in an impactful way.  As she has expanded from a one-woman show to a team of five women, she has done for us just what Ivanka did for her.  Kate has connected in some way with each of the women she has brought on to the team.  She never asked for resumes or sat any of us down for interviews.  Just as Ivanka connected with the Petit Peony brand and put her faith in Kate, Kate offered an opportunity for each of us to be part of her growing business and put her faith in us.  This opportunity changed my life in a way that Kate may not even yet know.  But more of that to come in a future post.  

~Kim

Welcome to ELEVATE

Welcome to ELEVATE, a blog aimed at celebrating motherhood, empowering women and connecting with Petit Peony’s extraordinary customers through raw interviews that we hope will leave our readers laughing, nodding and reflecting along the way.

With our move to Duxbury over the summer of 2016 came new opportunities for Petit Peony and founding owner and designer, Kate Bowen.  Petit Peony opened its first storefront, allowing Kate to begin personally connecting with Petit Peony customers.  The growing business also demanded a growing team, which now includes five women working to take Petit Peony from our beloved current customer base to an internationally recognized label.  

 

As the Petit Peony team gets to know our customers on the surface, we also want to get to know our customers on a more intimate level.  Our blog posts will take a personal look at Petit Peony customers who inspire us, and we hope to leave you, the reader, feeling inspired along the way.  We want to celebrate women and explore their true identities, and we want to promote ways in with mothers can bring quality into the precious time they are able to devote to their children in an increasingly busy and demanding world.  

Lastly, we want to give customers a look into the Petit Peony world: a glimpse at who makes up the team, discussions of where the company has been, and previews of where it is going.  This is an incredibly exciting journey, and we want to take you along for the ride; we hope that you will join us. 

Petit Peony "Dresses" Thanksgiving

We are super excited to host my BIG, happy, extended family next week for Thanksgiving! The girls are old enough now to know how special the Holidays are and get really excited when they celebrate with a large group of people they love. My five-year-old is extremely creative, and lately, she has been spending her time decorating our entire house with whatever the season brings.
Paper Source Thanksgiving Place Card
I am constantly looking for easy-to-do, fun crafts. When I saw this craft from Paper Source, I was inspired! The Thanksgiving place card is a great way to get children involved in party planning/hosting for next week, and I had everything we needed at home to get started!

Girls making place cardsConstruction Paper
Scissors
Glue sticks
Googlie eyes (optional)

I simply cut out everything for the girls and they assembled each place card themselves! Kendal even started cutting when she was running low on supplies.

Whether you are hosting Thanksgiving or traveling you can bring these sweet festive placecards. The authenticity and pure joy that is exhibited in each turkey is sure to add magic to the kick off celebration of the MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR!

Teal is the New Orange

Happy (almost) Halloween! 

I love everything about this holiday - fun crafts, pumpkin carving, costumes, and of course, trick-or-treating.  Halloween truly celebrates the magic of childhood.   

Scarlett smiling while she paints.That being said, Halloween can be a little tricky at our house.  Our daughter, Scarlett, has severe food allergies.  At eight months old, she had a reaction to yogurt. Her face turned bright red and continued down her neck. After a quick dose of Benadryl, a terrifying trip to the ER, and allergy testing by our pediatrician, we learned Scarlett was allergic to peanuts, tree-nuts and had a slight milk allergy.  

Needless to say, I spent the next two years watching this little lady like a hawk, always fearful of what she might find and pop in her mouth, or what someone, unknowingly, might give her to eat. 

I’m sure the anxiety I feel is similar for all parents of children with severe food allergies, especially on Halloween night. Candy bowls are filled with all sorts of goodies that either contain nuts or were likely processed in a facility with nuts, making them off-limits to children like Scarlett.

Teal Pumpkin ProjectThat’s why I was so excited to learn about the Teal Pumpkin Project.  Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) hosts the project in an effort to encourage people to raise awareness of food allergies, while providing non-food treats so that all children can partake in the joy of trick-or-treating safely.  By painting a pumpkin teal, the color of food allergy awareness, and placing it outside your home, parents can take a deep breath and know your house is offering something their child can take with them on halloween night, dump out on their family room floor and excitedly thumb through the treasure they acquired on their hunt.

Before participating in this initiative, I would have had my head buried in each bowl Scarlett would walk up to, desperately searching for a safe treat for her to take home.  Not anymore.  Now my entire family can enjoy trick-or-treating by making our route along the map of “teal” houses.

R to L: Charlotte, Kendal, and Scarlett paint their teal pumpkins!This is our second year participating, and I couldn’t wait to get the girls painting their pumpkins to put in front of our house!  Not only is it for a great cause, but it’s a great crafting project.  So much fun, why paint just one?! And, invite a friend to join in on the fun. 

Go teal this Halloween - even if you don’t have a child with a food allergy.  For ideas on non-food treats to hand out, visit Teal Pumpkin Project.

Every child deserves to be a part of the fun. And, honestly, how much candy do they really need, right?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy treating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Petit Peony Anchors in Duxbury!

Petit Peony from Shem Roose on Vimeo.

Has it been two years already?! It was summer of 2014 when I originally started Petit Peony as a small Etsy shop; so much has changed in such a short period of time. I went from sewing clothes for my daughters in my Vermont country home, to launching a brand, taking on two strategic investment partners, and now Petit Peony has officially anchored in Duxbury, Massachusetts. 

It’s all in thanks to you, my loyal customers, the support from my family and friends, and taking a much needed “break” from the hustle and bustle of city life to spend time with my family in Vermont, that this dream to start a children’s clothing line is now a reality. 

For those of you new to the brand, see our full story here. 2015 was an amazing year - a year of true growth.  So many things have happened since I last wrote. It’s been a whirlwind, but one amazing ride so far.

Building the Brand

By Ruth W. Demby - Nikon SLR, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11851512Petit Peony left gorgeous Charlotte, Vermont, and now resides in Duxbury, MA.  For my non-New Englanders, Duxbury is an amazingly quaint, coastal town situated between Boston and Cape Cod.  It has everything that Petit Peony needs for inspiration - traditional New England colonials, boats and fishermen, four beautiful changing seasons…and maybe an occasional mermaid sighting?  

Now, I’m sure you’re wondering why we would ever leave Vermont?  I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE Vermont.  It was, after all, the birthplace of my son, and Petit Peony. Vermont’s community and values were a huge inspiration to me. It was what allowed me to start this company, and I’ll always keep Vermont close when thinking about what’s next for the brand.  

Petit Peony Store InteriorBut, like all things, we must move forward to see growth, and I’m really excited by what this new move means for us.  For one, we have officially opened our first office and store!  Louisa Birkett, of GRAPEVINE Interiors; my interior decorator and new fabulous neighbor here in Duxbury, designed the interior of the store.  She
couldn’t have executed the brand more perfectly!  It looks classic and clean, nautical and fun all in the same breath. Added bonus- our view overlooks Duxbury Harbor!  

Adding to our new location, I’m excited to announce a new member of the Petit Peony Team.  Melissa Maloney has stepped in as our operations manager, and what I like to refer to as my ‘right-hand woman.’ She will be handling all of the day-to-day business, allowing me more time to focus on expanding the brand.

We have recently been featured in Vogue and Glamour UK magazines. Petit Peony was also a participant in Ivanka Trump’s #WomenWhoWork Fall Campaign, a non-political decision centered around helping support her movement to raise awareness around equality for women in the work place. In addition, Petit Peony designed a few patriotic pieces for Ivanka’s daughter, Arabella this fall. This recognition helps sets our brand apart from competitors, gains exposure, and validates the quality and classic styles that we are creating.  

Looking Ahead...

So much excitement in the coming months!  We’ll be launching our boys collection in the spring, as well as a limited women’s collection, making it that much easier to coordinate your family, while being comfortable and still stylish for all of those precious moments that are worthy of your memory books.

We are working on growing Petit Peony globally. Boutiques in Japan have signed on to carry our designs in the spring of 2017.  Additionally, Melissa and I will be headed to a tradeshow in Paris in January, to further promote the designs throughout Europe.  

We are truly on our way.  It is serendipitous that this all started because of my passion and inspiration for my children and my love of creating wholesome childhood moments to cherish forever. I think of those early times, pregnant with my son, sewing dresses and leggings in my attic because I couldn’t find sweet, simple, timeless clothing that captured the magic and innocence of childhood. 

Childhood is a fleeting time in our lives and I want to cherish every moment with my children. It is important to me that my kids, and yours, are comfortable playing while looking adorable. #comfortablyadorable

As always, thank you so much for joining us on this incredible journey! We hope to hear from you soon!

 

Petit Peony Logo

Petit Leaf Garland (DIY)

Looking for a fun, easy, yet adorable "Thanksgiving Craft" ?! The Petit Peony Sisters have moved on from "Halloween Crafts" and we are in full fledge Thanksgiving mode. This glitter Leaf Garland was so fun and easy. If you live in a seasonal climate like New England you should take advantage of the mild weather this weekend and do this craft outside!
Supplies:
1. Mod Podge
2. Freshly Fallen Leaves (can't be dry)
3. Glittler
4. One pesky little brother
We decided to make silver and gold leaves to hang from our mantel. Kendal, Scarlett & Jack loved running around looking for the perfect leaves. Jack is the epitome of a pesky little brother. They find the perfect leaf? He eats the perfect leaf. They are ready to paint the mod podge on their leaves, he steals all the paint brushes and knocks over the glitter during his exit strategy.
The assembly is simple. You use a generous amount of mod podge all over your leaf, sprinkle with glitter and allow to dry!!
This craft is so simple it will keep even your littlest ones entertained for at least 30 minutes!
Enjoy!
Xx
Kate
leaves: Petit Peony Farm; Little Wooden Picnic Table: Amazon; Irish Knit Hats: Gap Kids

Petit Spook Out

Halloween is such an exciting time for kids. The change of seasons, decorations, costume designing, the candy consumption- it all sends them over the moon with excitement! I feel so blessed to have two little home makers who are as passionate as I am about ambiance and celebrating the seasons. Crafting has taken on a whole new meaning this Fall in our house. Art Projects are part of our girls daily routine. On the weekends we get a chance to spend A LOT of time crafting. We brain storm ideas and then spend most of the day gathering materials, assembling the project and then displaying! These pictures are from our home. We had a blast making these decorations together and the girls are SO VERY PROUD of their masterpieces.
This Spooky Tree I must say was their favorite and it was so easy! We went hunting for the perfect dry, "Spook Branch", we sat outside and used watercolor to paint it black. We then we exploring to find the seasonal fresh jack-o-lanterns, filled our mason jar with dirt, mom attached thread to the jack-o-lanterns, the girls hung the orange ornaments on the branches, and just like that we have the spookiest tree on the block. I love this picture of them admiring their work. 
Supplies:
1. Tree branch
2. Black watercolor paint
3. mason jar
4. decorative ornament (we used jack-o-lanterns)
This DIY Halloween Village is also a blast to make and you probably already have everything you need at home! This Spooky Village is the perfect accompany to your Spook Tree. The kids have so much fun talking about who's houses these are and where the witch lives. It is hysterical. Endless use of their imagination.
Supplies:
1. Milk and/or Cream Cartons
2. News Paper
3. Construction Paper
4. Scissors
5. Tape
This display makes me smile. We lived in Massachusetts for 10 years before moving to VT. It is where the Petit Peony Sisters were born, so this Halloween quote gives me a sense of nostalgia. I love New England! I used construction paper to cut out these really easy DIY bats and witch. The girls then tapped them to the wall. We love our paper bats. I made extra for the girls and they glued colorful feathers and glitter poms poms on them and then sent them out to their grand-parents in the mail.
Supplies:
1. Black Construction Paper
2. Tape
3. Scissors
These meaningful craft projects take a lot of time, thoughtfulness, and evoke priceless conversation. I hope you and your little try one of these easy DIY crafts this Halloween Season!
pumpkin garland- (Homegoods); Faux Wood Haunted House (Homegoods); Custom Chalkboard (The Red Envelope); Lumberjack Jammies (Shelburne Country Store)

Petit Confetti Pumpkins!

As a working Mom, I'm constantly looking for ways to spend QUALITY time with my petit crew. I spend a lot of time laying in bed at night after everyone is asleep looking for ways to build memories with my munchkins. Crafting is one of our favorite activities. I am also on a mission to create meaningful crafts that are "keepsakes" and can be put on display for all to admire.
One of my favorite bloggers, The Crafted Life- gave me this idea. It is so so simple, colorful and perfectly festive for one of our favorite seasons. You only need THREE supplies:
1. Mod Podge (which I think may be the best crafting supply EVER!) 
2. Confetti 
3. A white faux Pumpkin
Mod Podge is amazing in a lot of ways but most importantly when working with our petits ~ everything must be non-toxic. Our Petit Peony Sisters sat and crafted for an hour doing their confetti pumpkins. Then they spent a lot of time discussing where they would display their masterpiece. They are so proud of their results.
These bright little pieces make great fall decor and most importantly we had a marvelous time talking about the different colors, making patterns, and using our imaginations together.
pumpkin~ Michael's crafts $9.99; Mod Podge~ Michael's Crafts $4; Confetti~ The Flair Exchange $5
Quality time~ priceless :)

Petit Lemons Make Lemonade

The Petit Peony Sister's love everything about the idea of a Lemonade Stand. Lemonade Stands are a universal symbol of Summer for the young and old. It is also the epitome of independence at ages 2 & 4.
1. Make your product
2. Set up your shop
3. Service your customers
4. Bring home the fruits of your labor to your very own Petit Piggy Bank!
First, they love to make their own lemonade from squeezing lemons and adding (and tasting) sugar in the comfort of their own kitchen.
Next they gather all the necessities for a successful stand: Cups, Straws, Napkins, Two Mason Jars, and their trusty red wagon to transport. Oh, and their Mom to carry the actual stand.
The outfit selection is also important. They discussed the colors they should wear and their was a unanimous agreement that yellow was the clear choice since it would coordinate nicely with their product. I do feel strongly that a Lemonade Stand inspired dress is on the horizon for Petit Peony! The Honey Bee Tunic dress was the obvious choice. Nothing makes me more proud as a Mom to see these two loves working together as a team.
Setting up the stand was the job for the eldest Petit Peony Sister. She is the serious planner who is a bit of a perfectionist (I wonder where she gets it from?!). The littlest Sister was worried about testing the product. 
Even though this stand was set up on a remote dirt road in farm country in VT, these two sisters sold out in 45 minutes! Thanks to all of our bikers that couldn't resist supporting the hard work of these two sisters. And of course the testing of the product helped, and Dad was also a patron. The Petit Peony Sisters were quite pleased with their stand and look forward to their next venture!
Here is the recipe we use . It is simple and delicious and we love everything about Ina Garten and her Barefoot Contessa Recipes.
We look forward to many more stands at the edge of The Petit Peony Farm!
XO
Kate
 Red Wagon, Radio Flyer; Lemonade Stand, Land of Nod; Honey Bee Tunic Dresses, Petit Peony
Vintage Red & White Polka Dot Paper Straws, Michael's Crafts

Bon Apetit! (peony)

This Petit Peony Sister is all about helping out in the Kitchen these days. She also loves staring, poking, and playing in her garden. This simple yet delicious appetizer is perfect for both the children and their parents! It is just THREE ingredients. What is even more appealing, your 4 year old can assemble it!

 

This little chef, picked, washed and gathered all her ingredients

1. Organic Cherry Tomatoes

2. Fresh Goat Cheese

3. Ripe Avocado

I cut the tops off the tomatoes ( we had a quick outfit change ~ a sneak peak at next season's designs) and our chef got to work. She put about a teaspoon of goat cheese in each cherry tomato and then topped it off with a thin slice of avocado! AND.... Bon Apetit (peony!)

 

I must admit, she would have had a greater yield if there wasn't so much sampling.

multi color chicken dress - Petit Peony, Little Pig Dress - Petit Peony, Goat Cheese - Vermont Creamery, Avocado - Shelburne Village Market, Cherry Tomatoes - Petit Peony Farm, Blue Trim French Porcelain Plate - Williams Sonoma, Helping Tower - Amazon

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