I first came across Redfish Kids while traveling in Singapore, on Maddi’s first trip at 5 months. I remember thinking, “They don’t make stuff like this back home,” only to find out a year later that they were made in Vancouver! I love their clothes; the fun fabric prints, the stylish designs, the quality and the comfort of the pieces – so style does not have to interfere with play! I especially love their tagline “Clothing for the Courageous;” I find so much inspiration from that! It was when I made my first Redfish purchase for Maddi that I made the resolve to never “save the good clothes for special occasions,” but to be present and enjoy every day as a special day. It’s a lesson for me too.
The very first time I stepped into the Redfish store, I met Linnie… who now has become a good friend. Through her, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of the other Redfish staff and have enjoyed building a relationship with Redfish Kids. A couple of months ago, I met Lorraine Kitsos, a co-founder of and the designer for Redfish Kids. Shortly after that, I invited her to a Date With Inspiration and have enjoyed getting to know her since!
For this date with inspiration, we decided that we would do something other than just sitting down for an “interview.” We decided that hanging out for an afternoon with both our daughters in tow and having a photo shoot with them in some of the Redfish Fall Collection would be more interesting! Below is the store on 851 Hornby Street in Vancouver, on launch day of the Fall Collection. Throughout the interview questions and answers, I’ve included a few of my favourite images from our photo shoot!
Red Alchemy: How did Redfish Kids come to be? I love the tag line “Clothing for the Courageous.” How have chldren’s courage inspired you & your creations?
Lorraine: Redfish Kids was born right before my daughter Beatrice was born (11 years next April). I created redfish for my kids and drummed up every bit of courage to keep going. They were my inspiration. I built the tagline to keep me determined in my own vision and to speak to the creativity of children. I love watching children and how they approach new things… how they create new worlds with a sense of play, with no fear of failure.
That is how I aspire to be. I am reading Eric Fischl’s “Bad Boy” right now who writes about his admiration for Steve Martin because he approaches everything out of a sense of fun and play and everyone around gets swept up into that contagious energy.
Red Alchemy: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in pursuing this venture/career? How did you overcome them?
Lorraine: Rejection. You cannot take it too seriously or too personally. Just keep swimming… just keep swimming. And Growth. Growing has meant partnering and working with a team and learning to let go of the reigns. When to let go and when to hold on has been a very challenging thing to navigate. It means learning that you can’t control everything and at times – you need help to move forward.
Red Alchemy: In a time of fast fashion and cheap clothes, what inspired you to go the slow route and produce good quality clothes and classic designs? How do you find the people that want what you’re offering when it seems everyone is just out to find the best deals?
Lorraine: Great question! And well… I believe in quality. I know in an instant if something is made well – from a house to a dress. I truly believe being rigorous about quality is fundamental to the beauty and richness of life. Quality gives back. For me, cheap and disposable robs me of something.
There is no choice but to swim upstream against today’s current. I see others joining in and get inspired by their work…..it may be catching on.
Red Alchemy: Where do you draw inspiration from? What inspires you? What is your creative process?
Lorraine: Art, History, Nature, Literature and of course – Fashion. I follow what is interesting to me and make connections between aesthetics and culture. It is a pretty abstract process. I try to keep shifting themes so something new can come up and the pressure of deadlines can trigger inspiration.
Red Alchemy: I remember being in university and worrying about going for a creative career because creativity seemed like an unpredictable thing for me. And if I couldn’t guarantee that I’d be creative all the time, I didn’t want to take a job that relied on my creativity because I can’t promise to be able to deliver. It seems like a silly fear because so many people work in creative jobs and do just fine… but the struggle was very real to me. Could you relate to that fear at all? If you could, how do you manage it? If not, what is your experience like?
Lorraine: Ha – can I relate. In university, I studied business because in my mind at that time, that was the only way to “make it.” My grades were fine but my spirit was dying. In a state of despair, I wandered into a vintage clothing store in Seattle, WA and found a bit of a refuge. I stayed there 7 years learning under the tutelage of Laura Dalesandro. It was the early 90’s… grunge was born and it felt like the world was discovering Seattle and our growing ‘Isadoras’ Antique Clothing all at once. It was exciting to travel and buy and grow the collections of so many talented and famous people that would fly in to shop with us. This experience shifted my perspective of “making it,” and finding my place in the world. It was invaluable… and fun! Then I met my husband who has made his living in the arts from day one. He forced me to stay committed to my own creativity. I am forever grateful. For 25 years of my life, I would never have labeled myself as creative. It was a late discovery and perhaps because of that latency and the power of labels I am ever more committed to accepting that fabulous force of creative energy and riding the wave. My best advice is to believe in the power of that force and hang in there!
Red Alchemy: You have a partner. From interactions on social media that I’ve seen, it seems you have a really great relationship. Partnerships don’t always work. Sometimes, they can go really wrong… even between good friends. How did you know that your partnership would work?
Lorraine: Did I know my partnership would work? It was a leap of faith. We felt familiar to each other. There was a pretty deep understanding of one another based on the similarities of our childhoods and some experiences growing up. We have worked hard on our relationship. This is something that I am very proud of. We have stuck it through and grown as individuals and partners. I value her presence and feel blessed by her commitment to the success of Redfish Kids. Success is a team effort and I feel blessed and grateful for an incredible Redfish team.
Red Alchemy: What would be your best advice to someone starting out in a creative career/business who has fears on not being able to keep the inspiration, ideas and creativity flowing when their work depends on it?
Watch the video below for Lorraine’s answer!