Lucy Wildman, founder of Little Flock of Horrors. Image supplied.
There’s no brand quite like Little Flock of Horrors. They’ve flipped the script on what you might expect from childrenswear steeped in practicality: bringing seriously bold, fun and stylish designs to the table instead.
You won’t find neutral tones or garishly-gendered clothing in their Merino-centred range. Oh no, Little Flock of Horrors is all about designs that bridge fun and style. The result? Styles that kids and parents alike can love. “LFOH is not about pink cupcakes with sprinkles or choo-choo trains driven by fat conductors. Kids can be monsters, and we embrace it.”
The range came about after Lucy Wildman started making merino garments to support her son’s health condition. What started as a personal project has now evolved into a family-run venture with their own retail space, stockists galore, and of course, a loyal fanbase of parents and tots alike.
Parent to a flock of little horrors or not, it’s safe to say that their range and story is nothing short of heartwarming and compelling. Always intrigued by the stories between starting up and scaling — and the inspirations and creations within — we caught up with Lucy to talk more about Little Flock of Horrors’ humble beginnings and shaking up the childrenswear space as the brand’s Winter 2022 collection hits stores.
Can you tell us about what inspired you to start Little Flock of Horrors?
My son Iggy suffered from febrile convulsions, which is when the body temperature spikes. Because Merino is such a fantastic thermo-regulating fabric, I started making some clothes for him from offcuts from the Otara markets. My husband and I realised that there was a real market for edgy merino childrenswear in New Zealand, and that’s how we started!
How did you realise that Merino has such great properties for keeping your child well?
Both my husband Fran and I are really into snow sports, and we’ve both spent a lot of time skiing – in fact, that’s how we met – when we were working at a ski resort in Vermont. So we know the benefits of merino from a technical perspective, and when I was researching febrile convulsions and how to mitigate these, merino kept coming up as a great solution for helping children to regulate their body temperature.
Had you always had an interest in fashion/craftsmanship?
I’ve always loved fashion and have worked in a couple of different brands in the industry, but never in childrenswear. Little Flock of Horrors is the first time I’ve had total creative control, which has been such a wonderful, exciting, stressful and wild journey, but it’s been fantastic and I love getting to do all the ‘fun’ parts of the business, like picking the colours and hand drawing the patterns.
Childrenswear from Little Flock of Horrors’ Winter ’22 collection.
What inspired the name, Little Flock of Horrors?
When we were discussing starting the business, I was up late one night with my daughter Frankie who was just a baby and was being a bit grumbly. We were throwing around ideas for the name and I suggested Little Flock, and Fran quipped: “you mean Little Flock of Horrors”. It stuck, and the name reflects the style aesthetic, photoshoot mood and tone. The DNA of the brand was undoubtedly formed in the early hours of that morning.
What have been some of the biggest challenges and/or learnings growing your label?
The impacts of Covid on shipping have been a real challenge this year, working around delays and timelines. We’ve also had a number of challenges with production over the years but each challenge has been a learning!
Can you shed some insight into your design process?
It’s a long process, that’s for sure! I start with drilling down the colour palette to start (each of our colours is dyed to our spec, we don’t use any stock fabric colours), then decide on print elements for each of the colours. This can take a lot of time because each print is designed to the fabric colour and style. Once the prints are finalised, I then pop them on style silhouettes to see how each of them work with the rest of the range. Then I have a play around with the boards to see how it’s all looking from a bigger perspective, then we move on to tech packing each style and colourway for the factory.
As a business with so many moving parts, how do you balance working on your business vs working in your business?
Is there realistically any balance?! It’s hard to not get caught up in the everyday minutiae of daily operations (packing orders, customer service, retail store etc.) but I’ve recently started a course that is helping me to address the bigger business picture through practical steps. It’s definitely a matter of retraining my brain!
What has inspired this latest collection?
Our Winter ’22 collection is inspired by the rich Autumnal hues of the Coromandel, my fave place in the world! A couple of the prints in the range are natural in their composition: flowing strokes, stippling and speckles. If you look hard enough you can definitely see the influence.
Frankie, Fran, Lucy and Iggy from Little Flock of Horrors.
It’s great to see such functional pieces be treated to great design. Was this important to you as you set out to design your range?
Absolutely. We felt there wasn’t much in the merino space that was bright and fun – there were a lot of pastels and neutrals. We wanted to offer something fresh and exciting for both kids and their parents. We put a lot of thought into the designs – for our new ’22 range that just launched, for example, the vibrant jewel tones have been hand-picked and custom dyed, meaning you won’t find them anywhere else. The print pallet of alphabet, mini hearts, stipple and graffiti stroke have been hand-drawn, making them unique but with a distinctive Little Flock of Horrors vibe.
Now onto your relationship with style. How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style has a vintage feel that blends comfort with eye-catching pieces. I’m a lover of layers so you won’t ever see me in just one colour, fabric or pattern.
Follow up: Do you think this seeps into your design?
Definitely! Little Flock of Horrors is known for its bold colours and fun prints, and our range is designed with the idea that you can mix and match pieces not only from each season, but across the years too – particularly handy if you’re mixing the big sibling’s hand-me-downs with fresh new pieces!
What are you most proud of with Little Flock of Horrors?
I’m really proud of the journey we have been on, and continue to travel, with Little Flock. From humble beginnings in the spare room of our home, to a retail space with stockists nationwide, we’ve come a long way. Our kids Iggy and Frankie were the reason we started the brand, and even though they’re too big to wear our children’s range, they continue to inspire so many elements of the brand. Frankie put the Flock in Little Flock of Horrors, and now all these years later she still helps with everything from packing orders to cleaning the kitchen (something she did today!). I love that we’ve created a brand from scratch that our kids can talk to about their kids.