We all have a past, though how many of us can attest to going from checkout chick to dancing waitress at a diner to chartered accountant? Meg Terrill, the face behind kids fashion brand Little Scooch, owns up to all of the above. “But for the last 12 years I have worked at Schweppes in the marketing team managing brands like Red Bull, Cottee’s, SOLO and Schweppes,” she says, a post from which she recently resigned to dedicate herself to Little Scooch.
Initially a side project that stemmed from being forced to replace her typically active hobbies with something more sedate after pregnancy number one left Meg with pelvic instability, the screen-printing course she took to fill her time led to the birth of Little Scooch. The designs she fashioned for her son via this newly-discovered creative avenue received much fanfare from people wanting something similar for their own offspring. “I realised the product idea combined well with the value of nurturing differences and individuality in young children,” says Meg, “which is something I feel really passionate about since having kids.”
Not one for cute, the designer’s chosen method of screen-printing using paper cut stencils was the natural fit for her ultimate bold aesthetic. “You can only achieve so much detail when you have to cut it out of paper, so this influences the look a lot,” she says. “My design ideas can take me anywhere from minutes to weeks for me to perfect,” says Meg. For example I have been messing around with my dinosaur for ages and keep just putting him aside until I’m happy.” Her stencil letters are pre-cut ready to be laid upon the customer’s chosen clothing canvas, overlaid with the screen and then flooded with ink. From ideas to inception, Meg explains the printing itself is a relatively quick process but the clear up is of course more lengthy, “as I use water-based inks I then have to get my screens down the side of my house to the sink quick smart to wash them out so they don’t dry in the screen.”
Little Scooch officially opened for business in July 2015. “This new creative outlet came at a time when I was feeling frustratingly stalled in my corporate career through my own decision to work part-time and prioritise being home with my kids” says Meg. “So 6 months into my Little Scooch side project, I decided to quit my corporate career and give it a real shot.”
Repurposing her hockey-playing moniker Scooch into the name of her fashion brand, Meg infused the energy that had once been ploughed into hockey, hiking, running, camping, snowboarding and “bad dancing” into her business. “Scooch is my hockey nickname, which I never loved, and as it goes, the more you hate a nickname the more it sticks,” she says.
Names and nicknames are core to Meg’s designs, adding that unique and personal flourish to every piece of clothing stamped with the Little Scooch insignia. Animated by phrases and sayings inspired by children themselves, Meg explains of her creative process, “I listen a lot to how parents speak to their kids and the language young children use themselves. The nicknames, and teasing, jumbled toddler words, and imaginary fun are the things I try to tap into to.” Those ideas get scribbled into her notebook with crayon or texta and then emerge on tee and onesie to the delight of her loyal clientele.
From superhero to ladybird, every corner of a child’s imagination is translated into bold, bright and colourful designs. “The Go Go design is probably a reflection of me, as I am guilty of always feeling like I need a million things on my plate, and never saying no,” says Meg. “And I love flamingos.” In the spirit of throwing her all into her work, the designer admits an owl would provide equally good creative grounding for a Little Scooch self-portrait “as I am an absolute night owl, mega insomniac, person who will read, work, think all night. An owl pun escapes me right now though…” As for the canvas upon which these quirky cool phrases appear, Meg is committed to keeping her business grounded in the practice of fair trade. “I enjoy colour clash and patterns, but it’s really difficult to source interesting blank apparel for printing that is ethically produced,” she says. “I would love to eventually get to a point where my business can support designing and manufacturing my own blank apparel so I can play around with printing over patterns, and some more interesting shaped tops, and more bespoke designs for little girls.”
As a little girl herself, Meg recalls fashion was not her strong suit. Remembering her three year old style pick as a green terry towelling Adidas Olympics imitation tracksuit, she says “Even better, I insisted on wearing it even when it no longer fit, I was a ‘spirited’ child,” she adds. “There are many incredibly attractive family photos of my child gut peeking out of the gap of my ill-fitting tracky!”
Her personal style has since shifted, though comfort is still a key factor in how she dresses. “I laughed knowingly at a Leigh Sales podcast recently where she owned up to her personal style being ‘can’t-be-arsed’,” says Meg. “I have a lot of that going on myself. I am very casual, my outfits feature jeans, shorts and leopard-print heavily, too many stripes, bright colours and patterns, not enough solid basics, and thankfully since having bad pelvic instability I now have an excuse to never wear heels.” Replacing her heels with newly discovered Rollie shoes, Meg attests the comfy soles are the hero of her wardrobe. “I think Rollies footwear in Melbourne is an AMAZING product born from a genius idea,” she says. “They are so comfy, light and stylish.” A clear front-runner on the designer’s inspiration board, she also includes Iris Apfel for her “fashion bravery and boldness” as well as the Instagram small business community in her round up of creative muses. “I really enjoy watching the ascent of RAGS over in the US, and local brands like mr willo, Full Tilt Nanna, grandy and baa, Paul and Paula, PaperKrane, Talking Red, HOWI, to name a few,” she says.
The subject of muse sparks Meg to confess her desire for a mentor to foster her inspiration into a tangible outcome. “I am self-taught,” she explains of her route into fashion. “I have found this one of my biggest challenges, as coming from a non-fashion, non-design, non-arts background, I don’t really know anyone in the design community and I would love to find a mentor to really challenge me, guide and inspire me.” Observing the value of mentor schemes in the corporate world, Meg is an advocate for collaboration in order for people to lift each other up and draw out potential. “I am still trying to get the confidence to reach out and network hard in a new industry,” she says, “as I don’t want to seem like a creepy despot!”
While fashion and design may not run through her bloodline, Meg’s creativity was nurtured in other ways. Literary escapism saw the designer’s imagination evolve as she ventured into stories to discover Faraway Trees, Wonderlands and Big Friendly Giants that would later pave the way for her interpretation of style. Embracing her own children’s imaginations into her creative process has further cemented the link between Little Scooch and its target audience. Though of course, getting the balance right with navigating family and business remains a work in progress. Acknowledging that “three year olds don’t make great screenprinting assistants” means Little Scooch is relegated to child-free time only, which has in turn meant holding back from growing the business. “Rather than see how huge I could make Little Scooch, so far I have been limiting my orders to capacity and trying to curb my ambition a little,” says Meg. “It’s hard after being quite driven in the corporate world but it is one of the reasons I am doing this.”
Eschewing the corporate world for mumlife and mumpreneurship, Meg’s reasons very simply are down to prioritising what she deems most important. “I recently read a blog post from a mum who was having a shite day at the beach with her kids, when she overheard a elderly gentleman say nostalgically and longingly to his wife, ‘those were the days weren’t they…’. It made her realise that these days, surrounded in the lovely chaos of our kids, could possibly be the best days of your life that you will look back on. It’s SO easy to forget in the thick of it sometimes. So she resolved to keep reminding herself that these are the days. It’s the old cliché of enjoying the journey rather than the destination, but it has really stuck with me and I keep just saying it to myself. I think it would almost be my tattoo if I ever got one. Either that or Carpe Noctem (seize the night).”
As a little fish in a big pond Meg has learned that holding onto her values means giving herself the opportunity to come up for air when she most needs it. It has also reinforced what sets her as a small business apart from her larger competitors, noting her key weapons are personality, passion and agility. “Do the little things that they can’t,” she says.
That is what Little Scooch is all about, passion, personality and understanding that being you is the most powerful tool you can own. An undoubted celebration of individuality, something Meg champions above all, it makes utter sense then that her chosen celebrity for a custom Little Scooch design would be the poster child for individuality, Lady Gaga. “I would do a baby onesie for Lady Gaga (if she ever has a baby),” says Meg, “because I think her music and performances embody the spirit of being a little individual, particularly her song Born This Way, and it would say Goo Goo Ga Ga… because puns are my jam.”
5 Facts About Meg
- Charlotte’s Web started my vegetarian journey, and my parents bore the brunt of an experimental childhood with tofu (tofu birthday cake anyone?)
- My mum made me wear school uniform, even though it was optional at our school, teaching me a life lasting lesson in resilience.
- If I say ‘better get my skates on’ it may not be a figure of speech.
- I think Aristotle nailed it when he said happiness is the meaning and purpose of human life.
- I am always late, but trying to do better.