Whether on a onesie or a national ad campaign, Swedish designer Cassandra Rhodin deftly pulls from the beautiful, quirky fantasy world she’s envisaged, replete with anthropomorphic animals and vintage references, served up with a modern twist. Wielding her pen she knows how to entice and entertain, possibly a genetic talent passed down from her great grandfather, circus king Brazil Jack. Though her heritage and own childhood inspire, when it comes to designing her children’s wear label Mini Rodini, Rhodin notes, “My biggest inspiration definitely comes from hanging out with my two kids. Their imagination is unbelievable.” Fall ’13 is arguably her strongest collection to date, and, we hear, Rhodin is growing the label from kids’ wear into home goods. We were psyched to sit down with ringleader Rhodin and hear the ballyhoo on the brand.
Babesta: You come from an artistic family – five generations of artists – what kind of art runs through your veins?
Cassandra: My parents and all the grown-ups in my world had creative jobs. [They were] everything from actors, painters and directors to circus-artists, acrobats, ballet dancers and illusionists. I wanted to be an author or an illustrator and I was always drawing and writing as a kid.
B: How did it all begin? What made you think children’s wear?
C: The idea started to take form when I became a mother myself. I realized that there were few clothes on the market that I would want to buy for my own children. I couldn’t even find basic organic cotton. That’s why I started my own label.
B: I understand Mini Rodini was named after your great grandfather who was in the circus. Can you tell me more about him? What did he do in the circus?
C: My great grandfather called himself Rodini when he traveled with gypsies in the romantic 1890’s. At the young age of twelve he ran away with a circus, and he worked with the circus, Tivoli, and varieté his whole life. In 1899 – he was then known as Brazil Jack – he started his first circus which has followed my family up to now. He was such an inspiring and eccentric adventurer!
B: Besides leading and designing the collections at Mini Rodini, you also do illustration for some of the largest companies out there—H&M, Elle, Urban Outfitters. How do your bodies of work relate – the kids to the adult?
C: I’ve been working as a fashion illustrator my whole adult life. I liked it, but I felt very ambivalent towards the whole fashion industry. Becoming a designer for kids’ wear wasn’t a huge step for me. I still draw everything by hand, and I actually think that the aesthetic of children’s clothing suits me really well. It’s much more fun!
B: I understand you are designing some home goods too – can you tell us a bit about that?
C: The home collection will be a set of bedding and wall art that will be released this autumn. It is made in the true spirit of Mini Rodini, organic, non-toxic and Fair-Trade. Textiles are exciting to work with and patterns make a big impact on a room, which I think both kids and their parents will appreciate. Fans will recognize the prints.
B: You use mostly organic cotton in your designs. Tell me about your commitment to sustainability and ethical production. Why is it important to you and what are you doing to uphold those values?
C: Sustainability is the most important thing about Mini Rodini’s design! We are always trying to make the best products we possibly can, aesthetically, quality-wise, ethically, and environmentally. It is challenging, but we don’t want to compromise. Sustainability is our main focus and we have a lot of exciting projects ahead.
B: You collaborated with Bugaboo last year in Europe for some special edition stroller canopies. Are you planning any such collaboration in the U.S. (We, for one, would love that!)
C: We’d love it too if the right one comes along! Who knows? There might be something happening very soon…
B: Who are the five people from history you’d most want to have around your dinner table? (Family excluded)
C: I would only invite interesting women and listen to everything about their life stories. I choose Gala Dali, Karen Blixen, Mary Kingsley, Princess Diana and Edie Bouvier Beale. -JC