Chit Chat is back and with the most inspiring interview yet! I am so inspired by this girl, you have no idea! Allison Tovey, owner and designer of Asolon Clothing has more determination then anyone I know. After suffering a hemorrhagic stroke in 2009, leaving her in a coma for 4 weeks she woke up to realise she had no speech and the whole right side of her body was paralysed. But this didn't stop Allison, three years later she had relearned how to walk, talk and sew only using her left hand. With a passionate heart and a driving force of a bull, she accomplished what she wanted to do, create her own fashion line. Using beautiful soft merino wools and organic cottons, her children's collection is unique and comfortable for babies 0-24 months. Read on to find out more about the most inspiring Allison Tovey!
Buy her collection here: http://www.asolonclothing.com
1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF, WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND?
I’m Allison, a born and breed New Zealander who has sewing in my blood. After graduating with Bachelor of Design in NZ, I took off to explore Europe with the intention of pursuing my career in fashion.
While I was getting to know London I ended up in a marketing position. Still dreaming of starting my own business I began to cultivate ideas in the hope of one day making that leap.
In December 2009 when I was 25, life and my dream stood still momentarily as I suffered a major hemorrhagic stroke. After 4 weeks in a coma, I finally woke to find that life was not to be the same again. I had lost nearly a half of my skull (don’t worry 6 months later they replaced it with shiny titanium), the entire use of the right hand side of my body and my speech had disappeared!
Every part of my physical body was affected by my stroke, the surgeons held out little hope that I would ever be able to walk or hold a conversation again. One element that they didn’t realise was that my creative brain always remained intact. This allowed me to use my hunger for design as part of my rehab. Over the next three years I went through the pain and struggle of re-learning how to walk, talk and communicate. Through many hours of frustration, practice, problem-solving, re-invention, trial and error and a few Rocky montages I was able to teach myself how to sew using only my left hand. My right hand, while not moving yet is still a work in progress. Hence I am the one handed designer, for now at least!
Today I am a self-employed designer, maker, crafter and web design enthusiast – doing all the things I love. My stroke was a turning point and now thanks to a bit of grit, determination and a mind that doesn’t stop working, I have made that leap I had dreamed about.
2. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO DESIGN KIDSWEAR?
Before my stroke I was making women’s Merino Lounge under the name of Asolon Clothing. Obviously that was put on hold but soon after my stroke I was invited to a baby shower. I was still a shell of my former self and finding it hard to communicate. I really wanted to prove to my friends that at the core I was still the same old creative person that I always was.
This led to my very first successful hand-made Gift Set – ‘The Hare and The Tortoise’ and thus Asolon was re-born. So as I re-learnt and developed my skills, my range expanded to what it is today.
3. WHAT DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT ASOLON, WHAT SETS YOU APART FROM OTHER BRANDS?
Our fabrics and our love of Merino Wool is what distinguishes Asolon from other brands. We are determined to bring the benefits of Merino into every little one's wardrobe with trendy, fashion forward items.
The benefits of merino are numerous; it isn't itchy or scratchy, but is odor and stain resistant, machine washable and most importantly... keeps children comfortable no matter whether its summer or winter!
4. AFTER HAVING A STROKE IN 2009 AND HAVING THE CHALLENGE OF RELEARNING HOW TO WALK, TALK AND COMMUNICATE, YOU TAUGHT YOURSELF HOW TO SEW JUST USING YOUR LEFT HAND, WHAT WAS THE DRIVING FORCE THAT KEPT YOU GOING AND HELPED YOU ACCOMPLISH SO MUCH?
Growing up my mother had a saying that she was faithful to – Get over it, you can’t change what has happen but you change how deal with it!
So that’s what I did, through my determination and drive to be a successful designer alongside the support of my amazing boyfriend and family, I got over it. Also anyone who knows me will tell you that I am an independent and determined soul, or stubborn whichever way you would like to put it. So when my doctors didn’t have much faith in my recovery it just added fuel to the fire, I was sure I could prove them wrong.
It reminds me of the scene in Happy Gilmore, when the doctor tells Happy to stay off his feet for a while and Happy tells him ‘to hell with that!’ – ‘Fine! Do whatever you like. What would I know, I'm just a Doctor.’
I think I have done just that!
5. WHERE DO YOU GO FOR DAILY INSPIRATION? DO YOU HAVE A FAVOUITE CAFÉ, STORE, BLOG, ETC YOU GAIN INSPIRATION FROM?
My daily inspiration is from everyday life, the book or magazine I’m reading, the music I’m listening to and shops I go into etc. Put me in to a good material shop and I will be inspirited for hours!
6. IF YOU COULD COLLABORATE WITH ANYONE IN THE WORLD, WHO WOULD THIS BE? WHY?
Hard question! There are so many people I would love to work with but if this person was still alive I would love to collaborate with Miroslav Sasek, he is the illustrator of the book series ‘This is …’. I love his illustrations and the life he creates into his subject matter.
7. DO YOU LISTEN TO MUSIC WHILE YOU ARE DESIGNING? IF SO, WHO ARE YOU LISTENING TO AT THE MOMENT?
Since I was at school I always need to have noise in the background and now when I switch on my computer Spotify comes up and I explore! At the moment I’m listening to a lot of Brandi Carlile, Kodaline, The Lumineers, First Aid Kit etc …
8. WHAT’S THE BEST ADVICE SOMEONE HAS GIVEN YOU?
Slow and steady wins the race!
9. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR US?
I know it’s so cliché but Life is short and never know what is around the corner – if you want to do something don’t wait till tomorrow.
10. THE HOLIDAYS ARE JUST AROUND THE CORNER, DO YOU HAVE ANY HOLIDAY TRADITIONS?
Since moving to the UK I haven’t had my normal summer family Christmas. I recently moved in to my boyfriend’s house and really want to create a tradition that will stay with me no matter what the weather is. I am currently sewing a bunting advent calendar where I can put small present for everyday till Christmas!
11.WHAT’S NEXT FOR ASOLON? ANY EXCITING EVENTS OR NEWS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH US?
What’s next for Asolon?
We love our customers and we think 0 – 24 months is not longer enough to enjoy our beautiful products. That been said we are hoping to extend our range to 0–5 years! Watch this space.
12. WHAT HAVE YOU ASKED SANTA FOR CHRISTMAS?
I would really like Santa to bring me a KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer!