Ann Arbor-area mom Caroline Hovord wants to keep things simple in life and in business, all the while trying to do a little good in the world.
As the parent of four, she can attest to the sheer busyness of caring for young children: Lara, 8, Meghan, 6, Theo, 3, and Phoebe, 7 months. Add to the mix a home-based, online, kids clothing business and the level of activity increases.
A business with purpose
Launched this summer from her Burns Park area home, Hovord’s business venture, Elephant Moon, offers what she describes as “purposeful clothing for kids” that also respects the planet.
“I didn’t want it to be just another clothing company,” said Hovord, who moved to the U.S. from the United Kingdom four years ago with her husband David, an anesthesiologist at the University of Michigan.
Formerly a high school science teacher in the UK, Hovord has a degree in bioscience. As a stay-at-home-mom, when she moved to the U.S. she saw an opportunity to create a business in the children’s clothing arena. Her business principle is simple: to offer well-made, durable clothes while using business and manufacturing practices that are ethical, sustainable and give back to a cause she is passionate about.
For the elephants from Ann Arbor
“I’ve always been a lover of elephants,” Hovord said, and in wanting to make her business a success, she realized an opportunity to go a step further and do something more. Hence the name Elephant Moon, which is not only the logo of her clothing line, but also a symbol for one of the wildlife animals she is trying to protect through her support of Amara Conservation. Every purchase channels five percent to Amara, a charity organization founded by Ann Arbor resident Lori Bergemann in 2001. The goal of the US and UK-registered organization is to protect endangered African wildlife from ivory poaching and the destruction of their habitat. Bergemann, who currently lives in Kenya, said much of the organization’s efforts are in the form of educational programs provided to residents in remote rural areas in Africa.
In researching projects she could support, Hovord said she came across Amara, realizing the organization’s founder Lori Bergemann, also lived in Ann Arbor and had UK roots. The two communicated via Skype and a link between Elephant Moon and Amara was created.
“I love what Elephant Moon is doing,” Bergemann commented. “We have the A2 connection and my family lives in the UK where she (Hovord) is from, so it all just makes sense.”
Hovord said her clothing is also designed with the environment in mind. She found a manufacturer in India that was certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and also Fair Trade certified, which assures certain standards in the manufacturing process. She said her company also uses minimal packaging, with no plastic.
A little help from some friends
Even though she launched the business just this summer, Hovord said, it has been a few years in the making. In taking care of her own children, she noticed there was something missing in children’s clothing lines and she started jotting down ideas and designs on paper. With no extended family in the U.S., she said, she was grateful to have the help of many area friends. A stay-at-home mom friend, Emily Wingfield, helped put her designs on fabric. Jen Geer of Jen Geer Photography in Ann Arbortook photographs for her website.
Her clothing line is designed to “grow with children,” she said, with fold over feet and sleeve cuffs, double rows of snaps on onesies, and easy on and off zippered body suits. The fabric is an organic cotton and elastane made to wear well through the many washes she knows children’s clothing endures.
Balancing motherhood and her business is not easy, Hovord said, describing it as having “a lot of spinning plates in the air all at once.”
“Sometimes it’s really difficult and I feel like I am taking three steps forward and five steps back. It is almost like I’m running on a treadmill all day long.”
Hovord said her belief in her business and its goals keeps her going and she is working on self-care, trying to be more mindful of her own health and getting a few moments in the day to herself, which isn’t easy, especially with a new baby. She said seeing her oldest daughter’s interest in her business is a good feeling, as she knows her children are seeing another dimension to their mom.
Find Elephant Moon at My Urban Toddler
3010 Washtenaw Ave #107
or online at elephantmoon.com
Get to Know Caroline Hovord
What is your favorite restaurant to go to with or without the kids?
I like Bigalora in Ann Arbor because it is a really big restaurant with a nice level of noise. We also enjoy Knight’s Steakhouse.
Where do you like to do your holiday shopping?
I am trying to buy smaller, more unique gifts this year for the holidays. I really love the Rocket Candy and Gifts in Ypsilanti and Rock Paper Scissors in Ann Arbor.
Favorite holiday traditions?
We usually try to do an evening at a Kerrytown Christmas event. On Christmas Eve, each of the children receives a pair of pjs and a book. They go to bed wearing the pajamas and we read the books.