A lot of you are probably wondering what I have been up too and why in the word I am talking about my crowdfunding campaign and some of you are probably wondering who the hell is this girl! Well, I want to fill you in on this.
First of all, those of you who don't know me, I'm Kelly Ekardt. I'm an American that has been living in London for 8 years now. I was awarded a fashion design scholarship to come and study in London my last semester at University, years ago now and when I came over to London I didn't realise I would meet a man that would change my life. I went back to the States after my semester abroad and took a job with a big outdoor company and worked as their location stylist traveling to spectacular destinations styling beautiful people. It was quite awesome! Once I got married I moved back to London, this was in 2008. Moving to London in 2008 was not ideal as the financial crisis had justhappened and no one, I mean no one was hiring! So I hung around until I co-founded a children's online boutique, I Dream Elephants. I started this kids fashion business even before I had any kids of my own because I was so intrigued by kids fashion and I knew it was a booming industry. I co-owned I Dream Elephants until 2012.
On Sunday, 18 March, 2012, when I was 30 weeks pregnant with my daughter, my life changed forever. I woke up on that Sunday looking forward to a nice walk along the canal with my husband, but as soon as I sat up from the bed, my head began to pound. I had had migraines before but this was no ordinary migraine, it literally felt like someone was hitting me over the head with a sledge hammer. I kept telling my husband I felt like I was going crazy, the pain was too intense. After about three hours of intense pain and unable to keep any form of liquid down I had my husband call the Traige Ward over at the Whittington Hospital. They told me to come in immediately. When I arrived they had me sit for a minute, but had a doctor over to see me right away. I thought I was just having a massive migraine and I was hoping the doctor would give me something to calm the pain.
The doctor took one look at me and said he wanted to check my reflexes. He did a routine reflex check and asked if he could send me up for a CT scan. I looked at him like he was nuts. He said normally when you check a reflex like the knee there is a delayed reaction, in my case there was no delay reaction, my knee jumped up like there was no tomorrow. He says this usually means there is something off in the brain and he thinks that I may be having a brain bleed. He said we might not be able to see anything but he wanted to check. So I was taken up for a CT scan. It wasn't long after I had the CT scan that the doctor came to talk to my husband and I. He sat with us and explained that I have had a brain hemorrhage and that they need to get me prepped to be taken over to the National Hospital in Queens Square. I thought to myself all I wanted to do was go for a nice walk.
So I was rushed to A&E put on a bed and had no joke 10 doctors, several nurses and a very scared husband in the background. They pumped my babies lungs with steroids just in case they had to deliver her that day and off I was in an ambulance to the National Hospital.
I was the first case they had like this so the board of neurosurgeons had already had a meeting about what they were to do with me. They put me in a ward and tried to make me as comfortable as possible. I eventually was given some medication because the pain was so intense. One of the many doctors I saw said, if mama is in pain then baby is probably as well. So get her to a comfortable state. I was in the National Hospital for 10 days that time round. Through tests, an angiogram, several MRI's they found out I had a brain condition called AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation). Basically the veins on the left-side of my brain never formed properly, I was missing capillaries on the end of my veins and my veins were so inter-tangled. Because of the pregnancy my blood pressure had risen and as a result the capillaries couldn't circulate the blood from my brain back to my heart, so I had a bleed.
They decided they would wait to deliver Edith (my child) until she was 35 weeks (elective cesarean). Because of the intensity of my situation, I wasn't allowed to go into labour, I had to be monitored closely. They would keep my pain under control and 4 weeks after her birth I would have a brain treatment called Embolization. They would perform an angiogram and pump glue into my brain to seal off the affected veins.
I went through the Embolization, it went well. They kept me in the hospital for 12 days. My husband brought my 4 week old baby up to see me in the court yard everyday as Edith wasn't allowed in the ward because of safety reasons. It was a very tough time. I slowly started to regain my strength over time, it wasn't just my strength I had to regain it was my state of mind. There was a lot of emotional stress to overcome.
I then underwent a treatment called Gammaknife Radiation where they radiated a very specific part of my brain. This went well. They said it would take anywhere from 2-6 years to see any results. But luckily because I am one tough cookie, the AVM had almost disappeared after 2 years. After several routine check-ups and MRI's, I have now been declared healthy!
I say all this because I did almost die. If it weren't for the amazing doctor that was on call that day I wouldn't be here. If I would have gone in to labour, well let's just say it would have not been good news. But I also believe my pregnancy saved my life. If it weren't for my pregnancy I wouldn't have known I had AVM and most AVM patients go through life not knowing they have it until they have an aneurysm, which many people never recover from.
Now that I am healthy, I am ready to truly follow my dreams! I have wanted to design my own collection for years and now I am finally doing it! Through my experience I want to inspire other women to follow their dreams too. It's not about what I went through but how I got to where I am now. Why wait for something dramatic to happen before you realise life is too short. Follow your dreams now!
I designed my first set of samples in October and took the collection to the Dot to Dot Kids Trade Show here in London and had such a positive response! Now I'm ready to get it produced and really make a proper business of it. So I'm running a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds to get my business off the ground.
A few other details about the collection:
Tell me about the first collection.
Beneath the Milk Way Dreams Come True takes your kids on a spectacular journey through their Milky Way of dreams. Inspired by the imagination of my three-year-old daughter’s and her love for stars, this collection combines shooting stars, geometric star prints and Milky Way constellations. Compatibility and layering are the design principles. Every piece can be layered in one way or another offering many outfit opportunities: throw the whole collection on the floor, close your eyes, pick a few pieces, and voila, you’ll have the coolest look. This makes the collection easier for the buyer. Everything goes together!
Using inspiration from Japanese and Korean fashion, you’ll find drop crotch ankle grazer trousers, pleated denim midi skirts, oversized fleece blazers and smart button-up shirts. The collection provides a smart, sophisticated, laidback look, all while allowing your kids to be kids and jump around in comfort!
Where does the name girlstalktoboys come from?
The name girlstalktoboys came from a trip Kelly and her husband took to Vienna. On a sign post in the city centre, there was a piece of paper that said: “FACT: girls that talk to boys from a young age will have better relationships”. Kelly thought this was great as it could relate to boys and girls. She interpreted it as building confidence in your children to always be themselves and never to be scared to talk to those around you.
Where do I manufacture the collection?
I believe in local and sustainable production. I had my samples made right here in London along with my garment prints. And will be working a lovely factory in Wales for production. I like knowing I can rock up and check on things at anytime and I know who is making my clothes as well. I can rest assure they are making a living wage! I believe in supporting the local fashion industry.
girlstalktoboys is about building confidence in your children through what they wear. Kids feel good when they like what they are wearing; it’s a form of self-expression. It’s true, clothes do speak louder than words!
What is crowdfunding and how can I help?
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, today often performed via internet-mediated registries, but the concept can also be executed through mail-order subscriptions, benefit events, and other methods. There are several online platforms that individuals can use to help them raise many for their particular project. I will be using Indiegogo. On Monday, 21 March, I will launch a campaign where I will be offering perks in exchange for your momentary donation.
I am trying to raise £20,000 to:
- put my current AW16 samples into production
- produce my SS17 samples
- and take them to trade shows in Paris and London
- there's lots of smaller costs in there too like photoshoots and PR
So head over to Indiegogo on Monday, 21 March and check out my campaign!