Maternity chic: Kristy Barber of Kuwaii

Greetings BusiChic,

It has come to my attention that I am not the only one who is navigating the joys and challenges of being pregnant at work. There are so many fabulous women who have or are (or will!) treading their own path in their own formidable style. It would simply be remiss of me not to cover their business chic maternity style for the benefit of future BusiChic mamas!

I am kicking off this series with Kristy Barber, designer-owner of much-loved Melbourne fashion label, Kuwaii. This month Kristy is showing her Autumn/Winter 2017 collection as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival and expecting her first child. What a balancing act! Much thanks to Kristy for sharing how she has managed her pregnancy at work, tips and resources she’s enjoyed and most excitingly, her maternity capsule wardrobe that I hope will make it easier for legions of expecting women to plan their own stylish and comfortable work wardrobes!


Kristy Barber, designer-owner of Kuwaii, speaks on the Can Fashion Empower Women panel hosted by Well Made Clothes. Source: Well Made Clothes

Describe a typical day running your fashion label, Kuwaii. 

My typical day is so varied, as a designer-owner of a small fashion business: my role requires many many hats and the ability to switch between all of them at a moment’s notice. So as to a typical day – it could be anything! We have a civilised start time of 9.30 in the studio… although I try to get in to the office a little earlier for a quiet bit of work before the other team gets in.  Usually I spend the morning in meetings, writing emails, chatting to my team about the week/month/seasons’ happenings. I then pop aside the afternoons for my creative time…which could be spent at the pattern-making table, working on cardboard patterns for the next season, cutting, some sewing (because I love it!) and putting together our new ranges, exploring fabric swatches, but it could also be working on PR planning, social media, setting goals or analysing reports.

How did you find working while pregnant? Any tips for getting through the trimesters while running your own business?  

Actually I found it more of a challenge than I thought I would. I have always considered myself an unstoppable force of nature when it comes to my work, and being pregnant really slowed me down. I was so very tired in my first trimester, I really struggled getting through my working days. However, I soon came to embrace my slowness: it allowed my team room to step up and take some of the pressure off me, which I think they really enjoyed and it was quite liberating for me as a business owner to learn to trust and depend on my staff more.  And I finally slowed down a bit too, which was amazing!

Kristy Barber, designer-owner of Kuwaii, speaks on the Can Fashion Empower Women panel hosted by Well Made Clothes. Source: Well Made Clothes

What is your workplace dress code? What were your go-to pieces in your work wardrobe during your pregnancy? 

We don’t have a dress code in our office as such, so I was lucky in that was that I could dress to suit my mood on a daily basis. Our studio is a workroom, so we can dress quite casually during the days, however there’s meetings, runway shows, shop visits, speaking engagements and events to attend as well! I built myself a little capsule wardrobe quite early on so I was really organized with my pieces. The capsule wardrobe was made up of:

  • 1 x pair of black high jeans with maternity band going over belly
  • 1 x pair of black 3/4 A-line pants with maternity band
  • 4 A-line tops to wear with the above – I found non maternity ones to fit as I found actual maternity clothes a bit ho-hum!
  • 1 x denim jacket
  • 2 x empire line dresses
  • 1 x stretch ponti dress – Kuwaii Gloss Dress was AMAZING. I would recommend buying 1-2 sizes up so you can wear through the whole pregnancy but still be able to wear afterwards.
  • 2 x stretch everyday dresses – it was great to be able to swap between more body con styles and more flowy styles.
  • 3-4 great pairs of shoes – this is vital, the shoe is required to set the outfit off even more so than on an everyday basis
  • some great accessories such as statement earrings/necklaces
  • 1 x new lipstick

Kristy’s favourite staple during her pregnancy, the Gloss Dress from her label, Kuwaii, which can be dressed up and down for work and play. The dress is available in three colours: navy, garnet red and rose coral.

What, if anything, have you missed the most during pregnancy?

I think I mostly missed feeling not quite myself, and not feeling tired, rundown or in some kind of pain during the time!

What, if anything, do you think you will miss about being pregnant?

I think I will miss my baby’s cute little kicks, it’s so strange and mesmerising to feel them.

Sites/blogs/books that you found helpful, inspiring or simply entertaining?

Baby Love was a book given to me quite early on and I found it absolutely amazing to read, as a first time mum I thought it was really interesting, fact filled account of life with baby. I also loved Kaz Cooke’s Up The Duff for a bit of comic relief.

Kristy Barber, designer-owner of Kuwaii, on the Can Fashion Empower Women panel hosted by Well Made Clothes. Source: Well Made Clothes

Best advice you’ve been given?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.

Your top tip for other pregnant women?

Treat yourself kindly, you’re growing a baby, it’s an absolute wonder of nature!

Kristy Barber, designer-owner of much-loved Melbourne fashion label, Kuwaii, on the Can Fashion Empower Women panel hosted by Well Made Clothes. Source: Well Made Clothes

Kuwaii is showing at the 2017 Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, Premium Runway 6, presented by RUSSH.

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