When I first meet Peta Stinson, co-founder and creative director of Australian organic children’s clothing label Sapling Child, it’s a mild early spring evening at her favourite Toronto restaurant, Libretto. “I’m a regular,” she tells me. It’s the first of a few shared connections I quickly discover along the way. Located in the heart of Toronto’s downtown east, Libretto is a neapolitan pizzeria that’s simmering in nostalgia.
It’s the spin-off of owner Max Rimaldi’s original Ossington outpost and is every bit as wonderful as his first venture. Here, Stinson is addressed on a first name basis, and it’s charming to witness the banter she has with the wait and bar staff.
Arriving before me, I see she’s already started on glass of vino and bread drizzled in olive oil with a splash of tart-y vinaigrette. Not to be outdone, I order a glass of red and a Libretto Margherita, which comes dressed with buffalo mozzerella, crushed tomato and grana pandano. We’re perched at the window and lean in towards Danforth Avenue, dig our forks and knives into authentic oven baked pizzas and sip wine with abandon as we talk.
Stinson, a Gold Coast transplant, is wearing a tried and true white shirt and black cotton skirt. We chat about how merciless the winter has been – but take note she is no stranger to a Canadian winter. She studied at Kingston, Ontario’s Queen University, the same school I went to, only at different points in time. And today we’re practically neighbours. Small world.
Then we talk shop. Sapling Child is in Canada to set up a U.S. distribution arm, which opened in the summer of 2015. After deliberating with her husband, Charles, Toronto proved to be a good base. Today she divides her time between Toronto, New York and L.A. (collaborations with The Honest Company and actress Jaime King) Charles, a former economics professor, acts as the business manager, and periodically travels back to their native Australia.
The transition has been relatively smooth. Stinson’s father is down the street, so it affords her three sons plenty of opportunity to bond with their grandpa. Plus, by virtue of living in Canada, her boys are learning French.
Flash-forward a few months, I ask her what her plans are for the holiday season, “To keep warm!” she says with gusto. “Actually, because the snow and cold is so new for the kids, we’ll be taking full advantage of all the winter activities! Skiing, skating, snowman building -- it’s going to be a blast.”
Usually, in the Great White North, Christmas is ushered in with an abundance of snow. I ask her how Christmas here for her family is different now that they have relocated to Toronto. “As a family, Christmas isn’t really something we celebrate too wildly. But being here, makes Christmas feel a lot more Christmas-y! Maybe it’s the snow!” She describes how Canadians seem to take being festive more seriously than Australians do. “People in Canada too, are a lot more into it, decorations are up all over the house, and out, Christmas parties galore…it just feels a lot more celebratory here,” says Stinson.
When it comes to her favourite holiday looks from Sapling Child’s current range, you will never be led astray with the Essentials Collection. “Our little love heart pants and matching long sleeve outfits are always my fav,” she says. Turning the topic to Stinson very own closet she gushes about her love of big, baggy oversized knits. “Big knitted cardigans, big knitted turtle necks, she reveals. Since our convo is food-centred, I ask her what her favourite holiday meal is. “Yum cha,” she answers without hesitation.
Traditionally, the holidays are about giving back, so I inquire about how Sapling Child gives back. “We have an orphanage in India that we support,” says Stinson. “It’s very small, but the age range is from 0 – 16. We make sure that we provide all the school aged children with everything they need for school, as well as on going support for things like new generators, maintenance, clothing, bedding etc," she adds.
In less than five years Stinson has reinvented herself from university professor to stay-at-home mom to securing her place among the children's fashion elite. Her rapid trajectory is mind-boggling. So, what’s the secret to balancing being a wife, mother, and running a brand? “You don’t!” Given her success, I’m convinced of doing the same.
SALE ALERT: Enjoy 25% off our entire Sapling Child collection and save even more on Sapling sale items. Use code FASHIONKIDZ at checkout. Offer ends January 2, 2017.