“I swear way too much and am highly addicted to coffee.” You know an interview is going to be interesting when it starts with brute honesty and a personality that jumps right off the page. Jazz Wiles, 27, is nothing if not interesting. Creator of fabulous baby footwear brand, Hudson + Moo, which launched in August 2015, Jazz admits her label’s moniker is derived from the names of her son and her dog, “Considering Hudson is generally my inspiration I figured it was fitting. My two biggest loves inspire me daily.”
A self-confessed crazy animal lover, the mum of one tried her hand at veterinary nursing post-education, and then ploughed her grand career aspirations into a highly stressful foray into Commercial Project Management. The arrival of Hudson (16 months old) however changed her course entirely and unintentional though it was, she added designer to her list of achievements. “I needed a focus, something for myself, an income and I love being creative. Perfect fit really,” she says. Like many mum-makers Jazz’s entry into the design life came as a result of disappointment in the retail offerings available for Hudson. “I had made a few pairs that my son wore regularly, people would stop me in the street to ask where I got his shoes, I would respond with ‘I made them’ which was often followed by ‘do you sell them?’, so I thought why the hell not,” she says.
Boasting no formal training in design, Jazz asserts that Hudson + Moo is founded on the theory that practice makes perfect. “Honestly my year 12 textiles teacher can’t believe that I’m actually doing something that involves sewing,” she says, laughing. “Though now that I’m establishing a business in this field I intend to undertake study in both design and business management to stay abreast of the market but also for my own personal interest and growth.”
Honing her business and market knowledge are certainly on Jazz’s agenda, but it is her quirky cool approach to the creative side of things that makes Hudson + Moo so unique. Walking into her fabric supplier with one idea but leaving with a whole host of unrelated patterns lends a supremely organic process to her designs. She describes her design process as a flow rather than a series of steps, saying of the shoes that evolve from it “they just happen.” That intuitive edge is what sets her aesthetic apart, as she allows an innate sense of style to drive the process over anything more systematic, “I guess you could say that for the most part it’s just a feeling, if it feels good then it looks good.” Jazz also admits that while she may be aware of current trends, which sneak into her line now and then, for the most part it’s about what she likes. “I’m selfish, I choose the colours and patterns I like and go from there.”
Trends though are what have influenced her current you + me range, due for release on Friday 18 March 2016, “I want my product to be ‘in style’ and felt that these would hit the mark in both colour and print, whilst also keeping it simple,” says Jazz. The new range is available in gorgeous shades of midnight blue, emerald green, aqua, slate grey and coral with something to entice everyone and as their maker states, “these little beauties will pretty much go with everything.”
Though like most of us mums who delegate life between our own pursuits and the needs of our dependents, Jazz too found her work fighting for space on the family dining table. But in time, as her little business has grown she has carved out a space of her own, re-purposing her partner’s office into a dedicated sewing room. “At this stage it’s a bit of a blank canvas but in time I intend on turning it into my own little design sanctuary where I can explore my creativity,” she says.
So, if her shoes could talk what would they say? “Sleep woman! I’m one of those people that will lie awake all night thinking of how to change processes, improve functionality and ‘what next’. I have so many ideas and not enough time to bring them to life. Most of my work is done working away into the wee hours of the morning,” she says.
Time management is in fact the one thing Jazz cites as the biggest factor she’s had to overcome since launching Hudson + Moo. Something many of us can relate to in that struggle to divide ourselves into multiple pieces to serve the needs of our children, household and personal ventures and one that causes no end of guilt, Jazz came to the conclusion that there was no shame in putting her hand up and asking for help. “For example, right now it’s a Sunday afternoon and I seriously needed some uninterrupted Hudson + Moo time, so I’ve sent my boys off with a swag of snacks and they are having a bro date at the park… Time managed.” In fact, this plays into her chosen mantra for life perfectly, as she says, ‘focus on you first; you need to be the best for yourself before you can be anything for anyone else.’
With precious alone time to focus on her brand a rare commodity, Jazz uses it wisely as she devises plans to move her business forward. “By the end of this year I would like to see Hudson + Moo at a more sustainable level. I would really like to have more wholesalers and try my hand at visiting some markets.” It’s set to be an exciting year, with the new you + me range only the start. Unsurprisingly addicted to DIY, Jazz reveals that she has also been experimenting with hand-dying fabric “which if all goes well will feed into a new hand-dyed range,” she says.
Her vision is infectious as she throws out ideas for a leather and cow hide kix combo for a tougher aesthetic, before turning her thoughts to the possibility of a ‘Mummy and Me’ set in collaboration with two of her favourite online businesses, Mister Zimi and Spell Byron. I am left sartorially salivating over the endless possibilities ruminating in Jazz’s mind and, she declares, “As far as what they would look like …… F@!king Fabulous.”