In the first installment of our ‘Working From Home With…’ series, Maggie Marilyn Hewitt shares her quarantine routine. From the Bay of Islands in New Zealand, Instagram’s favourite designer talks to Francine Heath about breathwork, fresh air, and having time to fall in love with creating clothes all over again.
The last month has seen many of us take on the trials and tribulations of working from home for the first time. While often thought of as a little isolating or perhaps even lonley, there is something about the way that friends and familes are facing this challenge in unison that has brought a sense of togetherness in the face of adversity.
Last month, artist David Hockney managed to release a new iPad drawing of daffodils from lockdown in Normandy, titled with a message of hope: “Do remember they can’t cancel spring.” Thinking about the iconic 82-year-old creating the piece in isolation serves as a reminder that we’re all facing this crisis together, and highlights the importance of continuing to connect with people (somehow) from wherever you are in the world. It inspired the idea behind our new ‘Working From Home With…’ series, which asks designers and founders in Eco-Age’s Brandmark community to share their WFH routines and how they’re coping with these longer spells indoors.
The first to pen her entry is Maggie Marilyn Hewitt, who recently opened up to her followers about the crippling waves of anxiety from which she, like so many of us, often suffers. The designer is widely respected for her dedication to challenging the status quo when it comes to transparency in the fashion industry, and now by opening herself up personally she hopes to bring some comfort to those in the same boat who may be feeling alone. From her family home in New Zealand, Maggie reveals how she’s found alleviation in strolls with her dachshund, practicing yoga and collections of Rupi Kaur’s gorgeous poetry.
How does your typical day start now that you’re working from home?
I have always been an early riser and mornings for me are definitely the most productive part of my day. I start by making a coffee and sitting down to watch or read the news for around half an hour, then I take my dog for a walk as the sun starts to rise. I’ll shower and be sitting at my desk by 7.30am with another coffee in hand!
What do you choose to wear?
I have been living in our Somewhere range. I am also wear-testing our second release of this line which comes out later this year. To be honest, I really haven’t felt like getting dressed up; instead, I have found comfort in wearing our merino layers and organic cotton fleece.
How do you structure your day?
I’m working from my parents’ house in the Bay of Islands in New Zealand — it’s so calm and serene here. I try to organise my calls for the mornings so that by the afternoon I can focus on designing. I am developing our next collection but working remotely with our pattern cutter and design team is proving to be quite challenging… it’s just not the same as being in a room together. We are trying to make the best out of the situation that we are in and I’m excited to see what creative ideas eventuate out of our time in lockdown. It’s definitely going to be a collection I’ll never forget. I have actually been reading and researching the lives of women during The Great Depression – the ‘30s are one of my favorite eras in fashion because I feel inspired by how they were able to create and innovate with such scarcity of fabrics and resources. I’m thinking of ways to take on some of that design methodology.
What helps you to stay positive and motivated?
I haven’t found the perfect balance to be honest. I have moments where I feel hugely optimistic and filled with strength, then days where anxiety takes hold and I feel a lot less productive. Getting fresh air, taking ten minutes to make tea and sit in the sun and just focus on my breathing really helps to calm my nerves.
How are you remaining connected with your team?
We are so lucky to live in the era of Zoom — it’s been amazing for keeping us connected and united as a team. We have a full team meeting every Monday and then separate group meetings throughout the week to help one another stay focused and connected. Then we have been having team drinks on a Friday evening, which has been really fun and something to look forward to at the end of the week.
What’s been challenging so far?
I think not having that face-to-face contact with my team, our manufacturers and our suppliers. I love the people engagement part of my job so having to communicate digitally is a challenge for me. However, it has been a good time to reflect, as since founding Maggie Marilyn four years ago it has been non-stop. So, it is nice to have time to fall in love with designing again, and remember why it is that I love fashion.
Any recommendations of things to do when work stops and downtime begins?
I think doing something where you can take ten minutes to clear your mind, whether that is sitting by a window in the sun and breathing in some fresh air. Our wonderful PR manager and in-house Yoga Teacher Alisha has taught me a lot about mindfulness and breathwork, which really helps when I’m feeling overwhelmed. You can find her Breathwork video on our IGTV.
And lastly, poetry. In the last three months poetry has been such a solace for me and I have started collecting poetry books. I love how they are something you can pick up for five minutes and put back down again. My favourites at the moment are Rupi Kaur, Puvana Reddy and Lang Leav.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourites:
This is the recipe of life
said my mother
As she held me in her arms as i wept
Think of those flowers you plant
In the garden each year
They will teach you
That people too
In order to bloom.