For the launch of her exclusive preloved collection with Ingrid & Emil, we visited Laura Breneman in her home in Küsnacht, Zürich. Over croissants and Earl Grey, she spoke to us about conscious consumption, her passion for design and circular fashion and how to spark creativity with your kids with minimal effort. Happy reading!
Name: Laura Breneman
Does: : Mom, Designer, Painter
Lives in: Küsnacht, ZH
Family: Husband Mark, children Guy (6) & Ivy (4)
My favourite kidswear brands
TinyCottons, Bobo Choses, Bonpoint
This thing that my kids wore I would never part with
I usually end up keeping things that they are wearing in my favorite photos of them. Also items that we collect on travels, things tied to memories. My husband would pretty much keep everything if he could, haha.
My biggest challenge as a parent is
Remembering to do all the “Things! There are so many things to remember! Also in the midst of that, remembering that we are also shaping and guiding future adults and how important that is.
The best advice I received
The Days are long, the Years are short. A friend told me this and it comes to mind often and in a way resets my mind in that moment of struggle.
"The Days are long, the Years are short - this saying resets my mind in that moment of struggle."
Mindful consumption to me means...
Really thinking about each purchase, whether preloved or not: Will it last, will it get used, will it be timeless.
It is always important to make sure that items you are bringing into your wardrobe or even your children’s can be worn with multiple things. I try to stick to a color palette for both of my children. This way, everything goes, and you have less “unwearable“ pieces.
When I was in my 20’s I worked as a sales associate at Ralph Lauren. The top saleswoman in the entire company happened to work in my store and she lived by this rule. When she sold items, she only sold her clients full looks. She knew what they had in their closet and what would work, she would not allow a sale of just a single item. She knew they would get it home and in their closet and not know what to put it with and it would sit there unworn. It happens more often than you realize! You are always waiting for the perfect shoes for those trousers, or the perfect top to wear with that skirt. Even if you love a piece, if it doesn’t fit into your wardrobe with what you have there is no point in having it. It won’t get used!
My favourite way to recharge my batteries is
Creating! I stay up to the wee hours of the night painting, sewing , knitting … really anything creative. My husband knows after all these years … book me a “rug making” class over a massage at the spa any day! This is the way to my heart. Move over facial .. let’s learn to do Kinstugi!
"book me a “rug making” class over a massage at the spa any day! This is the way to my heart. Move over facial .. let’s learn to do Kinstugi!"
Not many know this about me
Since the age of 5, I have wanted to be a fashion designer. I went to fashion school and had a goal in mind to become a designer by age 25. If it didn’t happen I was going to be a floral designer (which I got certified in just in case, haha). On the eve of my 25th birthday I got a job offer in Design at Ralph Lauren. I worked at Ralph Lauren in women’s design for several years and had items walk the runway in NY fashion week, had a coat my team designed on the cover of Vogue, and designed Uniforms for the US Olympic teams!
I love to shop second hand for myself and the kids because
You can find AMAZING THINGS! It’s such a treasure hunt! But you are also helping cutting down all of the clothing production by buying preworn. Clothes will always be made and new clothes will always be there to buy but we can help out in this tiny way to help with overproduction. Maybe if there is a group effort… companies will start producing in new ways that will be less wasteful, less need for rotation of styles, less production, less discounted items getting shipped off to landfills.
"I love to shop second hand for myself and the kids because you can find AMAZING THINGS. It’s such a treasure hunt! But you are also helping cutting down all of the clothing production by buying preworn."
A parenting hack I have to share is
“Magic Toy”! When the kids need to pick up a room full of toys and they are overwhelmed, play Magic Toy! Basically you pick a toy in your mind from the pile on the floor and keep your eye on it and who picks it up. Once all the toys are picked up you do the big reveal of who picked up the Magic Toy. The more toys they pick up the more chances they have so they pick those toys up so fast! Haha works every time!
Some favourite local haunts (to go with kids or without)
I’m not sure if Coop and Migros count because they are 100% haunts for me ha! I’m always there with or without the kids! But really, we love stopping in our local kids toy shop called PipSqueak and hanging with the owner Raquel. She always has great things and great kids books in English too! And of course the special kids cookies at Von Borg (bakery)! When the kids were little we spent so much time down at the Horn watching the ferry boats go by. There is a little beach with chairs, any season really it’s a fun spot with kids.
My tips for tired parents who wants to be more creative but don’t know how or where to start
Set up stations : Even if it’s as simple as putting a toy in their room that they never play with out in the living room instead , all set up cute or a cup of pencils and crayons and paper and glue on the table when they get home from school. To them you planned something and think it’s fun and new! I used to do this when the kids napped, the would wake up to a little line of their Schleich toys leading to a little bowl of water and a towel and it was “ bath day “ for the animals.. stuff like that. It does not take much effort, planning or craft supplies.
The inspiration for/philosophy behind my label Birdie by LB is
Basically it started by trying to solve the problem that I kept coming across that many “ upcycled “ items looked well…. “ upcycled”. The other issue was I wanted to use preloved fabrics because the same as with clothing there is also a ton of fabric waste out there with with bedding and curtains and cut fabric… all just sitting there in stacks never used because they don’t match your aesthetic or go with the project you're making.
So I had the idea to be able to use any fabric, print or colour as long as it was 100 % cotton and dye it all one colour. This would keep the item cohesive and looking like a full intentional piece and not piecemeal .I also wanted to make my coats made to order so there wouldn’t be waste in backstock or waste of materials if a size wouldn’t sell.
What’s next for me…
I am always doing something new, it is hard to tell! Recently my passion has been painting. I just got back from a Portrait painting course in Amsterdam at a Dutch painting school. I had in mind to paint portraits of my children as they grow so I am learning to do that as well as I recently found myself diving into larger scale Abstracts with a few commissions so I have been enjoying where that is taking me. Basically at the end of the day…my main goal is to try to figure out how to take over as much space as possible in our apartment with my craft projects.
You can shop Laura’s preloved page here.
Follow Laura on Instagram: @lbreneman @birdiebylb