daring to care

feminine and free fashion

Having grown up in the 80’s I honestly don’t think that the stereotypical fashion traits of blue for boys and pink for girls was so prevalent; I mean I lived in a pair of banana yellow dungarees which I would pair with some hideously garish stripy or spotty hand knitted sweater that my Mum had made for one of my sisters years before!! Fashion just wasn’t something to be interested in as a child back then in my opinion – it was all about playing outdoors; having fun and adventures. I’ve never realised how rustically idyllic it was; and I didn’t grow up in a mansion in the countryside with room for a pony. 

old fashioned kids

young entrepreneurship

My childhood was spent in the suburbs where there was a corner shop owned by Ali and the newsagents owned by John sold the most incredible penny sweets. I had a paper round aged 12 and would trudge the local streets at 7am every morning to earn my £7.50 a week. I hated Sundays – those big old broadsheets and weekend supplements literally gave me back ache. I used to do my paper round planning the time I would have later with my friends; going to the park or (if we were feeling very brave) we would “leg it” to the “Golfy” (the local golf course where the Tractor Man would chase us if he caught us). There wasn’t a bit of tech involved in those plans, and I look back on them so fondly now! So thank you Nic for asking me to write this piece, because it has brought back some wonderful memories.

It has also made me think about what we expect from our children nowadays, in a world with technology never more than an arm reach away, and access and exposure to really different spheres of influence. My sphere of influence centred on the small square of roads around my house. Fashion and beauty were restricted to the television which was only ever on in one room with the programme dictated by my parents.

The first I ever became aware of fashion and my appearance was when the first series of Friends aired and I desperately wanted to look like Rachel (of course). I asked the hairdresser down the road to cut my hair in “that” style and I literally would have given the scarecrows a fright at the result she created! I was 13 or 14, and it was probably a natural time to become interested in style.

Fast forward to 2019 and children as young as 2 are being influenced by fashion, style and constant streams of “should, would, could” when it comes to appearance. It would be easy to demonise this; to rip apart the media and the parents of those kids who are allowing their children to be influenced – however I think there is a different way to think about it.

being a mum

I’m a Mum and Auntie to two very different children. Both girls, both fierce in their personalities and interested in very different pursuits. At 12 and 14 they are both now becoming young women but they have always had really different interests in clothes and “fashion”. One is a complete sports orientated tom boy who I struggle to get out of leggings and hoodies; and the other is a fashion fanatic (and a bit too interested in my wardrobe!). As children I let them be who they wanted to be and I certainly didn’t put expectation on them around what they did or didn’t want to wear. The most important thing for me is that they had the freedom to do what they wanted to do, and were comfortable doing it. So if Iris Dares existed back then, I would have been an avid customer. You see, for me, what you wear should not be the definition of you, but the expression of you.

With Iris Dares I love the ethos of the power of the twirl; of the authenticity of being whoever the hell you want to be and look exactly as you want to too. When I see the nature inspired designs of the Bee-Utiful dresses and the fun and funky tractor style prints I smile at how perfect they are and how inspiring they can be for the little women in our lives. Be empowered to climb up a tree, drive a tractor, race to the “golfy” and not need to be stereotyped while doing it. I think that the brand that Nicola is building is not just beautiful; it is powerful, with genuine meaning and a positive passion which is infectious. Dare to care about all of it – the design, the style, the mission. It is so inspiring and so different from the generic brands out there for girls clothing!

When I was approached by Nicola to help her with brand styling for her bold and ambitious girls dresswear line, I instantly connected to her ethos and the desire to build something beyond a set of twirly dresses. From the commitment to sponsor a girl via Action Aid and the donation to conservation causes, through to the partnership with an ethical and independent manufacturer, Iris Dares is encompassing everything that a post modern small business should be – and they are rocking it while doing it! Nicola has created a business that dares to care; and she should be mighty proud of it.

iris dares. girls dresses  with bees and unicorns

iris dares - to care!

There is no sales pitch needed for the Iris Dares dresses – the designs speak for themselves. From the raised hems at the front to allow for knees to do what knees need to do, right through to the pockets deep enough for hiding the most precious treasures, I am in love with the thought and detail put into these outfits, and I only wish my girls were small enough that I would be able to gift them from Santa this Christmas.

We all want to look good while doing something right, right? Iris Dares literally does dare you to care – and I love it.

Pamela Rae-Welsh is a leading branding designer and web stylist, and is the owner of Worsley Creative Services. Pamela has helped over 100 businesses with their branding and online visibility and is passionate about supporting female entrepreneurs with developing their businesses. Pamela is Mum to Felicity and Auntie to Francesca, and spends her time between her home in Oxfordshire and her Manchester base.