After years of experience in the fashion industry, Cynthia Völkers only needed her two children before she was ready to start her own company. The Mama Set is based on her own needs and experiences during pregnancy. Quality and sustainability was something she was missing while searching for maternity wear herself, so added with a social responsible approach to the production, these are the things you will know The Mama Set for.
I met Cynthia in her home to ask her a few questions about how she managed to launch The Mama Set in May 2019 – during a global pandemic and while still being a stay-at-home mum. Cynthias’s maternal character is not only obvious when you meet her, but it is also ubiquitous in her brand: She strives to have as many mothers involved as possible in the process of creating The Mama Set, and she puts so much love and care into every order that only a mother can do.
What is the idea behind The Mama Set and how did it start?
It’s actually a funny story. I’ve had the idea since I was a teenager. I came across a 4 piece maternity set in a catalogue when I was about 16 years old. I thought it was a really great concept to have a foundation of basics during pregnancy and kept the idea in my head since then. When I got pregnant with my first child, I realised that it was very difficult to find maternity clothing that I could identify myself with, that covered all the bases of simplicity, quality, style and sustainability. I wanted to remain true to my personal style without compromising on comfort and quality. During my first pregnancy I was working for Closed which led me to our relationship with our jersey specialist suppliers in Portugal. So I already knew I could trust them, and that they could live up to a high quality standard with sustainable processes.
I gained a lot of knowledge regarding fabrics during my career in fashion particularly during my time working at Hugo Boss and Closed. I combined that knowledge and the particular requirements from personal experience of pregnancy to design The Mama Set collection.
I defined all of my favourite pieces I wore during my pregnancies in terms of comfort, practicality and versatility. Combining their features to thoughtfully design timeless styles with all the details you need in pregnancy. I also researched favourite styles through other mums’ experiences. I would ask them about their preferences, because obviously all pregnant bodies are different and we all have different body shapes to start with. With my second pregnancy comfort and simplicity was even more important than before, because I had less time to get dressed and choose an outfit with another child in my arms. So the concept of less is more and the right key versatile basic items in your wardrobe is what you need to combine with your existing wardrobe. The concept of The Mama Set forms the foundation of a pregnancy capsule wardrobe for busy mums and expectant mums.
Even though I had the idea for The Mama Set since I was very young, I knew I needed to personally experience pregnancy myself to create the collection. A big part of The Mama Set is based on my own experiences during both of my pregnancies and therefore it is emotional for me to impart the knowledge that I gathered to other mums-to-be. I love being a part of supporting other women’s journey to motherhood knowing the incredible experience that it is.
What brought you to Hamburg?
Love brought me to Hamburg, via Barcelona. I met my now husband in Barcelona whilst I was working for Hugo Boss travelling to Germany for work. After a long distance relationship whilst I still lived in Australia, then several years living in Barcelona we moved to Hamburg where both our daughters were born. I am born in Australia to Italian parents, and my husband is from Hamburg so we are a very international family.
How do you balance family and work life? And how were you able to start a business while still having your kids at home?
My family is the number one priority for me. It is the most important. I have always looked forward to having a family of my own. My mum was a stay-at-home mum and I appreciated having the time with her so much and I always knew I wanted to do the same with my own children. However, like many other mums I also wanted to pursue other achievements. And why not choose one that is inspired by my greatest achievements. Not in spite of being a mum but because I am a mum. I am very entrepreneurial and driven so as soon as my youngest started sleeping through the night (it was a long journey!) I started working on my company every evening. It helped a lot that I already had contacts in the fashion industry and I felt very comfortable working in the industry with my experiences at Hugo Boss and Closed amongst other Australian companies. And importantly I have a lot of support and understanding from my husband and family. It’s important to allow quality time with your kids and not feeling bad or guilty for doing either work or being present.
What is your advise to other moms who wants to start a business on their own?
Just do it! …and do what you know well and have an endless passion for. Something that brings you happiness. If you’re a perfectionist like I am, choose your battles, focus on what is really important to move forward. “Work smarter, not harder” Prioritise what needs to be done, be efficient and gain support to gain balance. I’m constantly chasing the right balance. It’s not easy, but it only makes the milestones even more rewarding.
Text and photos by Kajsa Englesson