Growing up in communist Belarus, Olga Jaeckel found respite soaking in vibrant colors at her local museum on Sundays, which were a stark contrast to her restrictive, monotone wardrobe.
“There was no fashion at all,” she says. “We all had to pick one brown dress that we would wear to school every single day.”
Olga’s experiences at the museum opened her eyes to a new world of self-expression, “so when I came to United States, I feel like I had such an appreciation for all of it,” she says.
Now with two sons and a daughter of her own, “all the choices and colors, fabrics and textures” have inspired her to create unique, high-quality clothing that’s able to transition seamlessly between school and special occasions.
Olga didn’t let lack of design experience stop her from launching Little Olin. After taking online classes and talking to friends to get her business off the ground, she subsequently sold out her first collection.
“One thing that I learned growing up is that I never really had much to lose,” she says. “So I’m never afraid to hit the rock bottom because I’ve been there so many times.”
It Takes a Village
Olga’s journey as an entrepreneur and as a mother are intrinsically linked. Her children have also directly influenced her design choices.
“I don’t think we, as adults, appreciate how much our kids know and understand at this age,” she says. “They have their own styles. They understand more, and in a children’s business they’re going to be the biggest judges of success of the line.”
“My daughter who’s six, she loves it,” says Olga, describing how she comes back from Europe with fabric to show her, sparking a mother-daughter design session.
She even takes sketches to the playground at her children’s school in the Washington, D.C. area, so she can get feedback from the kids and the parents.
“There’s so much overlap,” she says. “This is like the best thing that happened to me as a mom because I feel like my friends, and their children, are part of the process of designing and development and they’re just as invested as I am in different level of course, but it’s super fun. It’s fun to do it together and I love the feedback.”
Despite growing up in two different worlds, Olga sees a common thread.
“When I look back at my childhood and I look now at my daughter, I feel like she resembles me so much in what she likes and what she likes to wear,” she says.
“Being a mom is the most amazing thing,” she says. “It’s transformed me as a person and made me so much better.”
“As they grow, I grow with them.”