Fostering Craftsmanship and Making Girls Dresses Beautiful in Many Ways
Becoming a first time mother of a baby we cannot wait to hold definitely transforms how we feel about so many things. The instant we become mothers, our priorities change. Our interest in making the world a better place for our children increases. The thought that even one mother is unable to meet her children’s basic needs for food and shelter hurts. Isabel Garretón’s entrée into motherhood decades ago unleashed a burning desire to help underprivileged mothers and their children. This is the story of Isabel Garretón, the brand.
Isabel was a promising young scientist invited to study in the U.S. by the World Health Organization. While completing her masters in science, Isabel settled in Los Angeles with her husband and started a family. Committed to raising her girls and being available to them, she left her career to become a stay-at-home mom, a path taken by many women. While feeling fortunate to be able to be with her daughters, the loss of her professional identity left a hole in her life. She decided to fill the void by creating a company that would provide a dignified work opportunity and fair wages for underprivileged women in her native Chile. She reached out to women who had incredible hand-embroidery, hand-smocking and dressmaking skills. With her childhood passion for sketching dresses, Isabel felt certain she could expand the market for their skills beyond Chile and, as a result, improve their lives and the lives of their children.
And, so, the once-aspiring scientist embarked on a new career path into the world of children’s dressmaking. She traveled to her hometown of Santiago, Chile and, with 21 women, mothers like herself, brought her sketches of little girls’ dresses to life. She presented the beautifully hand-made dresses to Maggie Chaffin, owner of the prestigious Dottie Doolittle children's wear boutique in San Francisco. Maggie ordered 54 dresses, and Isabel Garretón, Inc.—a social enterprise—was born.
That was over 25 years ago and Dottie Doolittle remains a client. A pioneer then, today, Isabel Garretón dresses are found in the best stores in the country and many places around the world. Her collections support more than 100 women and their families, many of whom work from home so they can simultaneously care for their children. The success of her social enterprise is a testament to what Isabel has always believed: that a beautiful dress has more meaning when it helps make the world a better place.
“Every mother who has waited with excitement for the bright newness of a baby deserves the time and space to enjoy her child’s smile and laughter. Helping women care for their children while earning a living has been a lifetime endeavor that has made my life and that of my children better,” says Isabel.
Thank you for being a part of Isabel Garretón’s dream. Happy Mother’s Day!
A favorite part of our job is the photo shoots of a new Collection with models. Children are just fun to be around, especially when they start out a bit self-conscious and progress to an all out performance during the shoot of... Special Occasion dresses for girls, Christening Gowns, the seasonal collection of girls dresses for Spring/Summer, or the back to school dresses from our Fall/Winter collections. Every season brings its own inspiration, mood, and atmosphere. For example in the Fall/Winter and Holiday Collection of dresses we add soft and beautiful faux fur and wool coats for girls with matching Bonnets, Hats, and Muffs. All this dress up definitely informs the kids this is all special and they rise to the occasion. We keep it short and playful so everyone has a good time. They are happy to come back the next season; we like to think they have gained images of something they will want to remember when they grow up. Over the years we have seen that be the case as our models have grown up, gone forward with their lives, and even a few have brought their own babies to be models!
It starts with finding the location, for Spring/Summer dresses and bubbles, the beach is hard to beat and since we are based in Los Angeles, California, this is easy. For Fall/Winter dresses, rompers and coats a forest-like setting is an adventure little girls (and not so little girls) love. The big deal is the location for Holiday dresses and Special Occasion dresses. We aim at an environment that is less inspired by nature and more by the atmosphere that would surround an important event.
Once we have the location, we contact our never ending number of fantastic Moms, willing to bring their little ones to the location on the day and time agreed.
Back to School, Fall Winter dresses and Spring Summer dresses have our girls in and out of the many styles in a breeze, they climb the trees, play with the sand, and most of them are somehow disconnected from the camera and the pictures being taken as they play.
A Holiday dress or a Special Occasion dress photo shoot, brings out a completely different behavior from the little girls modeling. Once in the dresses, they acquire a princess like attitude. Without any prompting, they straighten up their back, they walk carefully, they pick up the sides of the dress going up or down steps…They know it…They feel it…They are beautiful. The moms and/or grandmas or dads on the spot are spellbound by the transformation of the same girls that were climbing trees or rocks in the prior photo shoot, the same girl whos mom said, "She doesn't wear dresses, she is a total tomboy."
In the many years we have been doing photo shoots with girls of all races, sizes, and ages; we are all mesmerized by the behavior that comes from wearing a dress that feel special in all girls, even those as young as 2 years old! We wonder about the place of elegance and the multiple social graces that come with it. It seems so intuitive in these girls who, like all of us, live in a world that casual dressing informs most or all of our days and we wonder...Are we missing something?
Discover the elegant possibilities in our Holiday and Special Occasion Dresses for Girls
Here at Isabel Garreton we have many friends sending their little ones off to school in the coming weeks! It's a special moment, no matter how many years and how many kids you have. We thought we'd start the school year off right with a giveaway. Click to Enter your favorite look from our three beautiful cover girls, share on social media, and you could Win it!
Every family has its own back to school activities set, many become annual rituals and traditions, I share here some of ours
1) Clothes Shopping: A sure measure of how every child changes with time. What they love this year they wont the next, when finding a pink dress for your little girl is the most important until it is a purple dress that matters. Finding an animal friend they can take to school, like a kitty or an owl is fun for a while too. Then there are those unexplained fashion moments... like when my daughter insisted in going to school with her life jacket. I always wondered how to interpret that.
2) Choosing a backpack. Can also be mom vs Hollywood. Looking for sturdy, sensible or well made? likely the action figure of the moment or the heroine, (not many in that category), plenty of princesses will tend to win. What fits or doesn’t fit not always to the point the child makes.
3) Visiting the school: A big deal when its the first time going to that school. Reminds me of my youngest daughter, on our way I was mentioning to her the great things she would be doing in school until she replied..."don't forget I need time to do nothing!..."
4) Lunch and snacks: A tricky territory, my children insist the first time they wished they had a different mother was when their lunches were different from the other kids. Keeping it healthy along with a treat takes some dedication.
5) First day of School Picture: My favorite ritual. We did it simply, on our way with our new dress and backpack. Fun memories come from those images as they grow older. We have lived for many years in the same house, so it was always out the same door. Some people get super creative about it.
What I didn't mention is how I felt as I saw every one of my children walk away from me for the first time as they went to school. This image says it perfectly...
Does your family do something special? Or have any back to school activities that you remember? Do you remember how you felt the first time you dropped your child at school?
The weather is still hot and kids are consumed by summer activities but little changes are already happening. The flowers have all bloomed, everyone is trying to fit in that last summer vacation, and each day the first day of school gets closer. We at Isabel Garreton are also getting ready for the change of seasons...
We are also wrapping up the summer and kicking off the fall with complimentary shipping on our Spring Summer and Fall Winter styles in July.
Use code JULYSHIP for complimentary domestic UPS ground shipping.
Whether you are preparing for the neighborhood Labor Day bash and the last fireworks of the summer, or you've already stared getting backpacks and crayons ready (some for the first time), find in our site the perfect sundress for a hot summer day and first day of school outfit as the weather cools. Each milestone in our children's life is a special occasion, a memory to keep and share with friends and family near and far.
Each milestone in our children's life is a special occasion and a picture is a memory to keep and share with friends and family near and far. As the Summer changes to Fall, and Fall to Winter we are happy to provide the fun, beauty and elegance when needed, to keep every girl adorably dressed with the perfect outfit for memories of Picture Day, Halloween Parties, Family Thanksgiving, Fancy Winter Coats, and the portrait perfect Holiday dress!
Because Isabel Garreton has been working as a social enterprise for over 25 years, we have been blessed to see mothers become grandmothers, and daughters become mothers many times over through the pictures and stories they share with us. It is an honor to have the work of our artisans become treasured part of so many families. Every design in the Isabel Garreton collections was created to support the gifts of talented hand craft artisans who are at risk of disappearing, feel good knowing your purchase supports these women and their families. Learn more about our social mission:
Stay in touch to see all the new designs first and we honestly love it when you share your pictures and stories by tagging @isabelgarreton or #isabelgarreton via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 310-833-7768.
For many women, having been a flowergirl is one of their early special memories! Here are a few tips to make it a great memory for the special little girl in your wedding ceremony:
1) Take a few minutes to be with the flower girl while you’re dressed as the Bride in your full gown and makeup. Ask if you can help her prepare the petal basket. Brides look like a beautiful princess to a little girl and it's a magical moment for them and you. It will make her feel like she is a part of something important and you'll get great pictures for your photo album.
2) Have a Plan. Ask your flowergirl's mommy to please come early before people arrive. The flowergirl should practice walking down the aisle and be given very clear simple instructions like, “walk right along this crack”. Give her a lot of positive reinforcement. If you give her a destination, she'll have something to focus on, especially if the eyes of all your wedding guests make her nervous. Some brides have the flowergirl put her basket on a pedestal just to the side of the ceremony or seat her parents in the front row just to the side of the family and seat them there for the rehearsal too. If you are going to have music as she walk down the isle, try to have it play at least once in the practice so as much of the experience can feel familiar when the wedding begins.
3) Be Flexible. While many people will say to you "It's your Day," in a child's mind every day is their day! If they don't want to wear their hair the way you dreamed, or keep taking off the perfect shoes you picked, try to let it go. In the end, she'll be beautiful no matter what and you can crop bare feet out of pictures, but you can't take a scowl off her face.
4) Two by Two. If you have multiple flowergirls, pair them with a girl a few years older to walk together. The older girls can help guide younger girls. Have them hold hands at the beginning in case they get jitters and have them play games or share toys ahead of time so they feel comfortable together.
5) Reward Her. If you provide something fun to distract her, like coloring books and crayons wrapped up like a gift, it'll help keep her amused throughout the reception and give her parents a chance to eat dinner. For this wedding it was a yoyo and some fun plastic hair clips.
6) Let kids be kids. Once her official duties are over, dance with her, let her run around, give her a piece of cake if she is still awake! If it's all too much, the bridal suite is usually empty during the ceremony and reception, so it works great as backup plan with PJs and a blanket for a sleepy little girl.
Your wedding will be filled with wonderful memories with friends and family. With a little planning, your flower girl will also have wonderful memories as she imagines becoming a Bride someday!
It is not possible to remember the many times we have provided customized flower girl dresses to weddings: red for Holiday weddings, black ones, navy ones, open backs, shorter, longer, with and without monograms, orange sashes for the Hawaiian wedding...Send it fast to Norway...to France ...to the UK...to someone very famous in Santa Barbara or Washington DC....Contact relaxed brides, nervous ones, some in disagreement with the mother or mother in law on the shade of the sash......life taking place.
In the end it is all there for that moment that will remain in the memory of all involved. That little girl or little girls will paraded down the aisle feeling they are special and part of something important. These girls will take away memories that involve decorum and elegance, the notion that a wedding is a ceremony marking an important moment in life, that one prepares thoughtfully for it, with care and attention to detail. A ceremony that is bringing to families together and the promise of a new family beginning.
For Valentine’s Day we received a present from Carol Goodfellow, pictures of her special day! In our hearts all of us at IG were there with her, in every flower girl dress with the custom green sash Carol had carefully chosen. The perfect picture of a new beginning.