Creative Genius: Olivia MacDonald of MTNkids
Get to know MTNKids footwear maker and designer Olivia MacDonald.
Olivia MacDonald is a friend of mine. But secretly, she’s kind of my hero. We met years ago, back before marriage and babies, back when we had time to hang out at a climbing gym, scaling walls and amazing all of our guy friends with our strength and flexibility. Olivia somehow manages to balance a full plate: she has a lovely family, a job as an editor at a publishing house, and she’s also the founder of MTNkids, where she makes the most adorable baby moccasins.
Her story? No less remarkable than I’d expect from Olivia. She saw a need, found a solution, and then refined her product into a most gorgeous and covetable item. MTNkids Mocs are now available at some of the hippest children’s boutiques in New England, and on the MTNkids Etsy site, where her mocs have been included in countless treasury lists. I convinced Olivia to take a few precious moments away to chat a little about how she went from idea to execution with a rapidly growing and very enthusiastic following.
As the crafty Creative Genius of MTNkids, how would you describe your mocs? How did you get started?
MTNkids Mocs were created out of a need, yet have evolved into a creative diversion that combines beautiful fabrics and functional designs into wearable necessities that will be welcomed as hand-me-downs by everyone you know. I created MTNkids Mocs in 2012 when my second baby was born, and I couldn’t find shoes or socks that would stay on her little feet. Since MTNkids’ creation, I have been evolving the design and experimenting with various fabrics for the shoes, arriving [at] where they are now: a place where the entire look and feel is simple, comfy and adorable!
Have you been sewing your whole life, or did you have to learn in order to make the mocs and clothing featured in your line?
I have been sewing and creating since I was young. My mom gave me multiple sewing lessons, but I have always refused to use patterns; instead I attempt things that I could design and create. These creations have ranged from pants, to shirts, and now, to shoes.
How long did it take to go from idea to finished working product?
It took a few weeks to design this shoe. I used my maternity leave with my daughter to experiment with size and fit, and have spent the time since finding great fabric.
You have a full time job as an editor, two kids and a husband. When do you find time to create new items, fill orders, buy fabric, etc.?
I find time in the quiet spaces of my life. Whether one kid is napping, or the other is out on an adventure with dad, I create in pieces. If I have 30 minutes, I might cut out a few patterns. If I have more time, I put the pieces together and sew up a storm.
What’s your favorite source for fabric?
I don’t have one favorite source. I use many sources: Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Craft Store, LemonTree Fabrics is a fave on Etsy, and Loom N’ Shuttle, a local shop that I support.
Do you have a favorite pattern or color.
I just got an alphabet-type graphic that I adore and will use in my 2T and 3T collection, and I adore all things farm: sheep, tractors, cows. I am using more flannel for the fall and winter, which is so snugly combined with the sherpa underfoot.
Is there an item of clothing you’re going to tackle next? Such amazing mocs, but now can you figure out how to make a winter hat my daughter will actually wear?
I started my Etsy shop (and sales to friends/family) with many different items. Dresses, skirts, shirts, capes, etc. were all featured at one point. But, I love the design and creation of the MTNkids Mocs, so I decided to solely focus on those. That said, I’m always open to creating custom orders—I’m currently working on a nursery set for a local customer.
Olivia may be working on a nursery set right now, but needless to say, as soon as she’s done, I’m going to put in an order for some mocs and those adorable snugly fleece pants for Elsa. If I’m being perfectly honest, I’m bumming pretty hard right now that she doesn’t sell those fleece pants in my size.