We started Aka+Pip out of a burning desire to bring the best maternity fashion to more women, and help reduce the fast fashion waste heap.
When I was pregnant with my third baby, I was utterly devastated at the state of my wardrobe. I had nothing to wear – previous pregnancy clothes were the wrong season, the wrong size, and totally worn out. Doing a swap with my girlfriends didn’t yield much at all, and I seriously couldn’t afford to spend on a new wardrobe this time round. I knew there had to be a better way.
The idea got parked while I dealt with the complexities of life with three small people, but roared into life again after chatting with a group of friends on my MBA course, about fashion, sustainability and how part of the problem could be solved through renting. I realised this applies even more to Maternity fashion!
Pregnancy is a temporary state, and most of us have so many more important things to spend our money on, that a temporary wardrobe comes pretty low on the spend priority. “Making Do” with cheap fast fashion that just increases the environmental impact of clothing is not a winning solution. So we set out to bring together a stunning collection of the top maternity and sustainable brands and make them available for rent, all across Europe.
My son James has an expression “always keep a pineapple in your pocket”, which is his way of saying be prepared for the unexpected by always having something nice with you. Pregnancy and the first few months of parenthood is a period of huge change - physically, emotionally, mentally - with plenty of unexpected situations. On top of that you are often grappling with a loss of your personal style, nothing to wear that fits well, or makes you feel confident and great about yourself. Being able to borrow from a wardrobe of Europe’s most stylish and sustainable clothing, could be just the boost you need.
Aka+Pip provides a sartorial ‘Pineapple in Pocket’ and a rapid boost to your wardrobe, helping you to feel good and in control of how you look, even while your body is temporarily not entirely your own.
Not many ideas can be brought to fruition without a team working together, challenging each other and sharing a few laughs. Aka+Pip is being nurtured by a global group of women contributing in a unique way. Together we all share the ambition to work in a way that treads lightly on our planet and fulfils our purpose: to help women look amazing and feel confident through the many changes they endure through pregnancy and beyond.
Lara, a Kiwi, is the main driver of the team. She grew up in the fashion industry, spending her teenage summers and first couple of years out of high school working for an Australian maternity wear designer, before switching into the corporate world of strategy and business analysis for a few years. With the changes in life that accompanied a move to France, and the births of three children, Lara took the opportunity to retrain as a designer, launching and leading a strategy-focused commercial interior design business. While doing her MBA with Warwick Business School, Lara finally realised how to solve her maternity wardrobe crisis and bring together her passions for design, fashion, sustainability and women’s empowerment. Lara is currently based in Italy, indulging her love of skiing, good food, design and culture along with her family and French Bulldog, Coco.
Naty, from Brazil, is our chief operations officer. Naty is a self-confessed fashionista focused on the practical details of how to get things done, and done well. Living in the UK, she and Lara met on their MBA and immediately ‘clicked’, with shared values and a drive to do things a bit differently. Naty loves nature and the outdoors (especially the beach!) and has worked for the past ten years in HSE, sustainability and project management roles.
Rikki is based in New Zealand and is our head of sustainability. By day she works on developing and delivering low-carbon solutions, and all other hours are dedicated to surfing and snowboarding with her twin daughters.
Bettina, our Accessories coordinator, is a multi-cultural, multi-national, tree-hugging artistic geek who lives in France with her family and their beloved Labradoodle, Teddy. A full-time mum, an artist, and a conservationist, Bettina epitomised the ‘third culture kid’ growing up in 6 different countries and 4 different languages. Aka+Pip’s mix of elegance, style and sustainability resonates deeply to her principles and artistic appreciation.