The founders of Sonnie talk balancing business & childcare

19 July 2022
By Fashion Quarterly

Meet the women who are creating functionable and fashionable clothing for kids while navigating the twists and turns life brings.

Sonnie founders Eloise Shanahan (left) and Ally Munro (right). Image supplied.

Children’s clothing can be cute, but it’s sometimes hard to find clothes that live up to the durability parents desire and style kids want. Eloise Shanahan and Ally Munro couldn’t find clothes that had the longevity, quality and fun prints their kids wanted, and this struggle was the push they needed to create Sonnie — a line of quality, fashionable clothing for youths.

Sonnie has only been operating for a little over a year, but it is quickly filling the gap in the market for organic clothes that kids can run around in all day and still feel comfortable. And as mothers to three sons each, these savvy women are helping other parents dress their children in Sonnie clothing.

We talk to Shanahan and Munro about why they started their own clothing line, and how they balance being business owners and mums. Read our q&a to discover more. 

Sonnie's AW22 collection. Image supplied.

You founded Sonnie after realising there was a gap in the children’s clothing market for quality basics that are functional yet fashionable —  and designed for rambunctious children! Tell us more.  

Shanahan: Ally and I started Sonnie as a solution to our own problem — as mothers of three boys each, we wanted quality, classic boys basics in cool cuts that can be worn, loved and passed down.

Munro: That’s right — not being able to find the style and quality of clothing I wanted for my children without buying from overseas designers was the driving force behind founding Sonnie. I also know that kids won’t wear clothing that’s uncomfortable! So we try to make sure all our pieces can be worn all day without complaint and are simple for kids to put on and take off themselves.

Sonnie is now available via multiple stockists, including The Iconic and Superette. How have you adapted to this growth? 

Munro: We launched our first collection in April 2021 after working on it for about a year prior to that. Since then, we’ve launched two more collections. We’ve been lucky enough to be picked up by some amazing retailers in New Zealand and Australia, Superette being our first. We don’t have any in-house team members — it’s still just the two of us. But we have found some very talented contractors and freelancers who we call on to help with things we can’t do ourselves. Over time we’ve created systems and split our roles based on our strengths.

Why do your customers love Sonnie, and what do Sonnie wearers (children) think about the clothes?! 

Shanahan: The quality of our garments is what really sets us apart from most kidswear brands and it’s for sure what’s bringing our customers back. We are lucky to have some very loyal customers. The kids love it because the clothes are so soft, luxurious and comfortable, and they always love the fun colours and limited edition prints we release every season.

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Where are Sonnie clothes made?

Shanahan: Our clothes are made in Shanghai, China, at a fantastic factory that produces high end sportswear.

Munro: The people we work with are absolute experts in garment production and have taught us so much. They’ve had to be very patient with us as we learnt along the way!

Tell us about how your collection is Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified organic —  was this easy to procure?

Munro: Using GOTS Certified 100% organic cotton for our core collection is really important to us. It’s better socially and environmentally, and gentle on our children’s skin. We work with a wonderful supplier to source our organic cotton and they helped us navigate the initial certification process, which was costly and time consuming, but so worth it to know the products we’re offering are produced fairly and to the highest quality. 

Sonnie's AW22 collection. Image supplied.

What is your most popular Sonnie style or colourway this season, and what should we know about the Winter season/children’s clothing trends? 

Shanahan: Fleece has made a comeback in a big way! Fleece is so durable, warm, easy to wash, quick to dry and most importantly  it lasts forever! The Monty Fleece has been so popular this season and it’s definitely one of my absolute favourite pieces from the collection.

Munro: Purple is still a big hit, as it was with our summer collection. Our new seasonal colours — moss, dusty blue and oat marle have been really popular too. Our Louis Sweatpants have flown out the door. We’ll be re-stocking these ASAP! As for trends for kids this winter — comfort dressing is key as always! And colour blocking is here to stay.

You have three sons each. How do you juggle working and childcare, and navigate the ups and downs?

Shanahan: I have Marlo (2), Tama (3), and Louis (6)! It’s a juggling act for sure and I would be lying if I said it was easy. The boys are at kindy and school, and Ally and I both have very supportive and hands-on husbands. We both have Wednesdays off with our littlest boys and do school/kindy pickups most days so we have the afternoons with the kids.

Munro: I have Rocky (2), Basil (5), and Milo (7). It’s such a juggle but I feel so lucky to be able to be flexible with my work and home life. My husband and I share the childcare pretty equally, and with school and daycare, we make it work most of the time. There are a lot of times I think “something’s gotta give” though!

Can we have it all in terms of a career and children, and what are your tips for those wanting both?

Shanahan: If you want something enough you’ll always figure out a way to make it work. Starting a business is full-on so making sure you have support from your family/partner/friends is key and then just taking the plunge!

Munro: I like to think we can have it all, but what “having it all” actually means to the individual might change over time. It might be that for one person, they absolutely thrive on doing “it all” at once and for another, they prefer to do it in stages and focus on one thing at a time. I definitely pine for the stay-at-home mum life when I feel stressed at work, but I know that in the big picture, having this facet of my life gives me so much fulfilment.

What’s the most fulfilling thing about being a mother?  

Shanahan: There’s nothing more amazing than watching your children turn into these cool little people with their own funny little personalities. The unconditional love you have for one another is like nothing else in the world!

Munro: Feeling that love and connection with my children. There’s nothing else that comes close.

Your top parenting tip/trick/life hack?

Shanahan: Making sure I move my body daily. It can be extremely chaotic at my house and I find exercise is something that keeps me calm. Even if it’s just a brisk walk with the buggy — it makes all the difference! Same goes for the kids, a bike ride or even just a walk to the top of the street can change my energy levels instantly!

Munro: Go to bed early! There’s nothing more luxurious to me at this stage in my life than going to bed at 8pm.

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