Designer Spotlight: May and Mary
This month in the designer spotlight I spoke with Heidi Brown, the designer behind the sustainable clothing brand May and Mary. Based in Portland, Oregon, Heidi makes all of her clothing using organic and hand dyed materials.
I discovered her brand while on vacation in Portland a couple years ago and instantly feel in love with her sustainable clothes for women on the move. Versatile comfortable and effortlessly stylish clothes are key to me that's why I was initially drawn to May and Mary apparel and have remained a fan ever since.
Heidi has also included an exclusive discount code at the end of the interview to shop her collection.
Pocket Pullover in Desert
How and why did you start designing?
I started designing when I was a just a kid, as soon as I was allowed to learn to sew. My grandma taught me to use her machine at 7 years old and I’ve been at it ever since! I really started designing in middle school, sketching t-shirts and JNCO- inspired jeans. Mall clothes just don’t fit my body (short and curvy but athletic up top. Read: big butt, wide shoulders, small boobs), so I was always shopping at Church rummage sales for special pieces I could alter slightly and make my own. This was long before upcycling was a thing, but that’s how it started. Soon I was
taking patterns from Joann’s and mixing them together to fit my imagination. One year I made winter-weekend dance dresses for myself and three friends. Somehow my family talked me into going to college for “a real job” but after 4 years of doing my roommates homework (she went to Parsons for fashion design) I decided that I couldn’t be anything than what I clearly was- a designer. Over the years my style has evolved A LOT but I still have a special place in my head for ballgown and fancy dresses.
Who is the May and Mary customer?
May and Mary is made for women who want to be comfortable in their clothing while keeping the style factor on point. And they want pockets, because who doesn’t really? The women who buy my clothes know that a beach body is a body that shows up at the beach, and not a size. They need their clothes to work in their life and in their wardrobe. They need clothes that will dress up or down, that are comfortable enough to sleep in but look like real clothes. They need clothes that take them to the office and to the playground with their kids and then to brunch with a friend. They need clothes that they never want to take off, because life is so hectic that they probably don’t have time to change anyway.
Top Crops Crop Top
How has your brand evolved?
May and Mary is a lot the same as when we started (just shy of 3 years ago!) but a narrowed down and distilled version. Before there was May and Mary, I had a hobby business with the name Heidalas where I made clothing from my own patterns using recycled materials. My style has evolved a lot since then, just always working to simplify and edit a love for color, pattern, and complicated design pieces.
What helps you get in the zone when you’re designing?
These days I do a lot of production sewing which calls for coffee and CBD for concentration. I don’t usually get to plan the designing part. It just sort of shows up and comes out, sometimes when I’m supposed to be in the middle of production mode, or sometimes early in the morning before I’ve done my yoga or had my tea. I try to let it ebb and flow like that, too much restriction and I start to forget why I’m doing this work. But if I’m ever on a design deadline, the best thing I can do is put on Beyoncé pandora radio station and dance it out in the studio for a few songs.
What is your favorite part about being a designer?
That’s a tough one. I really oscillate between loving the solitude of a day in front on my machine, stacking a pile of things I’ve made and getting to meet my people. But I think my absolute favorite is meeting a customer that whose body and personality are just the perfect fit for my clothes. I think it’s what people on Instagram are talking about when they say “find your tribe”. There’s nothing like dressing someone to feel comfortable and fully represented by their clothing.
Hand Dyed Bamboo Traveler's Dress
Shop now at: www.mayandmary.com
Use code 'MARRIEDATSEA' for 20% OFF sitewide (valid now thru 10/31 at 11:59pm PST)