Rujira Lawonvisut is the cool aunt, a jetsetter who splits her time between NYC and Bangkok, and the proud parent of three businesses, including kids’ fashion lines Millions of Colors and the more recent Andrew & Audrey.
Who: Rujira Lawonvisut, 35, “cool aunt” to kiddies ranging in age from 3-14, and a parent to three successful clothing lines, including the recently launched Andrew & Audrey line for children (her others are Millions of Colors and WRKRM). Lawonvisut grew up in Bangkok and spent time as an art student in Columbus, Ohio, when she was 16. She is rarely seen without her dog.
What inspired you to begin designing for kids?
You can actually be more experimental in terms of designing and also creating a fun color [palette] and patterns. I can use my creativity to create something really cute and fun. The challenge is the proportions. For menswear and womenswear, you know what it’s going to look like. When you design for kids, everything is a quarter-size of the whole.
Read 5 Fashion Tips from Rujira Lawonvisut
See our picks from Rujira's children's clothing lines in our April "Stuff We Like"
What are some memories from your childhood that stick out today?
I’m the baby of the family—well, not anymore. But I’m the youngest of four siblings. What I remember most about growing up, whenever we had free time, we took any chances we got to go to the beach. The Hua Hin beach in Thailand—we lived by there, and we’re still not too far from there. My dream is to have a beach house, to work in the house, get inspired by the water, have a little bit of a different lifestyle with my family and dog. We’ll see how that will work out. Hopefully it’ll happen soon!
You mentioned before that your dog is always with you. What is your he like?
His name is Gong—he’s a mixed peek-a-poo (Pekingese and poodle). He has been with me for 17 years. He travels with me everywhere. We move a lot for work. He’s part of my family.
How do your customers react when they find out you yourself are not a parent?
Most of them expect that I would be a mom to be designing kids clothing. But I have a lot of background in womenswear, and I think they trust me. I just have to spend extra time making sure that yes, it’s cute, pretty, whimsical, and fun, but also that it’s comfortable, that the fabric is actually as soft as possible. My nieces and nephews inspire my designs, too. We have models that try on the clothes, but when I do have a chance, I actually use my nieces and nephews to see what they see, what they like.
Would you say you’re a “cool aunt”?
(Laughs) It’s fun to be an aunt. Whenever I travel, I get them a little something…I try to get them something they’re into. Now, they’re into Angry Birds. It gives me a lot of joy when I see their smiling faces.
Starting your own businesses and splitting your time between two cities that are worlds apart (New York City and Bangkok) seem like it’d be quite a hectic lifestyle. How do you steal away for some “me time”?
Right now it’s kind of hard to find “me time.” When [my husband and I] find time, we travel quite a bit. We spend a lot of time in Bangkok and also in New York. We travel to L.A., Atlanta, to Asia. Kind of an East meets West dynamic. We are very lucky to be able to have both worlds.
What are words that you live by?
I think what my parents told me is actually to be happy. Be happy with whatever you do. If you’re not happy, then everything else doesn’t seem so good. But, if you are really happy, you will look at things differently. This is what I’ve taken with me from childhood to today. They also tell me to live in the moment and enjoy life. You can get so wrapped up with everything that’s going on around you. Try to embrace what you do and enjoy life while you can.
5 Fashion Tips from Rujira Lawonvisut
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1. Consider comfort! This is my number-one priority when dressing kids. It is important for me to keep this in mind when I am designing and choosing fabrics at the beginning of every season. I am sure that most moms would agree.
2. Invest in timeless pieces. They can be worn throughout the year. I think a must-have, for both girl and boy, is a lightweight crew or vee-neck cardigan. To make it more personal you can choose a cardigan with details like chest embroidery, border stripes, or engraved buttons. You can use this basic cardigan to dress up or down, depending on the occasion, all year ’round.
3. Have fun. And bond with your kids. Be bold and do not be afraid of trying new things. Let your kids show their millions of personalities: Mix pattern to pattern, mix a flower-print dress with striped leggings, mix a gingham shirt with a Fairisle vest, mix different shades of pink from head to toe for a ballet class, mix contrasting colors to create an interesting look—an orange cable vest with espresso and French blue tipping at the neck!
4. Create your own new look for any occasion by adding your own design element. Make a party-theme pin to wear with a tee shirt, cardigan, or a dress that your kids already own.
5. Accessories are your friend. They can be a big part of creating your kids’ holiday looks, but they don’t have to break the bank. You can recycle an old belt by adding beads, ribbon, ruffle details. Your kids can have a fun new look for all the parties you have to attend during holidays.