She became pregnant at university and people told her she would ruin her life. They were wrong. She graduated, founded her own slow fashion brand Povila and she has a happy family of four. This is the story of Michaela Holíková.
We did a video interview in a lovely meadow which is usually deserted; only this time in the only cottage in the surroundings you could hear drilling. And that was not all. The wind was commenting our every word, birds were singing, a fly was posing in front of the camera and at the end, we were blocked by a truck parked in the only exit way. In the first version of the video I was missing and the quality of the second one is disputable. Oh, the hard beginnings… But I am not giving up. It goes on. Here is our conversation which complements the video interview.
Míša, you became pregnant at 22 which is unusual today. How was it?
It had two levels – an inner personal one, and an external one. My then boyfriend, now husband, and I knew that we want to have children. But when we announced it to people we could often feel that they were thinking that we are ruining our lives. Nobody said it openly but we could feel it. We were just different but eventually, they accepted it and the majority of friends got used to it.
You don’t have one but two children. And you started to run a business. Wow.
At the end of the second pregnancy, I was taking a lot of rest, preparing for the birth and at the same time thinking that I did not only want to stay at home with two children but I also wanted to do something else. I was very humble because I did not know whether it would be more difficult with the second child or not. I read somewhere that in order to find our calling in life, we should have a look into our childhood.
And so you looked at little Míša and bingo!
Kind of yes. Ever since I have had colored pencils in my hand I have always been drawing dresses. I remember that at 18 during boring classes in the grammar school I was drawing, too. So I started thinking this way. Once the postnatal period was over, I found time in the evenings to do some research and conceptualize what I want to do. It arose spontaneously.
You were lucky to find a gap in the market which you filled with your hobby.
You know I was thinking a lot about what I should wear after giving birth. There are no simple, elegant and practical clothes in stores for breastfeeding mothers. That is why I primarily focused on them and then on pregnant mothers, mothers in the postnatal period and non-breastfeeding mothers. I design dresses which mothers can wear with sneakers when going to play with children to the playground as well as wear with high heels and a string of beads when going to theater. Lately, half of the dresses are bought by women who just like them and do not breastfeed anymore. Overall women are interested a lot in the dresses and it makes me very happy.
So what is attractive is style, timelessness, and functionality. Besides, there is also an emphasis on local production.
Exactly. For me it is important that as much as possible be made in Brno. I buy the fabric from one local factory where the clothes are sewn and colored. I design the dress, consult it with a pattern maker and have it sewn by a local dressmaker here. I support the local economy and invest money here and not somewhere in China.
This complies with the principles of slow fashion. Can you shed light on what it is?
It is an alternative to mainstream fashion which forces people to buy loads of clothes which they stop wearing after just one season. The clothes are not of good quality and they are cheap due to inhumane conditions in the factories. Slow fashion is opposite to hastiness and it goes more into depth. Quality is more important than quantity. Minimalism plays role. Less is more.
Besides the essence of your brand I am interested in its original name.
I liked the sounds O, V and L. I was trying to find different combinations which would match and sound well and one day Povila came into my mind. It writes well, it is simple and it sounds well. A few months later, I was speaking with a friend about my business and I had an idea that one day there could be a Povila Baby division. Only then did it click in my head that Povila is related to the old Czech word “povít” (give birth to a child).
Povila Baby, Povila Father. What is your vision in the future?
I want to slowly develop the brand. Povila has become a part of myself and our family and it has been growing with us. I work on it in the morning and in the evening but I devote the rest of the day to my children and husband. Well-being at home is my priority.
It is important to be clear about one’s life values. How does your husband perceive your business?
I did not tell him about it in the beginning and I think it was the best thing I could have done. I was starting the idea up slowly and I only wanted to show it to him once it was real. When I received my first dress from the dressmaker and once he saw the summer collection he immediately loved it and started supporting me.
We all need support but we often get just little sips of it.
I think it is important but it does not come out of nowhere. When you live next to a person who knows you the most in the world, it does not necessarily mean that he will approve all your ideas. My husband needed to see it. I would compare it to birth. When a woman is pregnant, it is an imaginary thing for a man. But once he holds the baby in his arms, he falls in love with it. It was same with Povila. He knew something was happening but I did not go into details. When he saw the dress, he found it gorgeous.
That sounds great. It is amazing your convictions were not shaken by the pressure of the surroundings and you have a family on your side to support you in your entrepreneurship. I wish you that your business runs well. Or rather, walks slowly.