With four children in tow, nursing school, and a growing business, Charlene Chapple is a busy woman. But no matter how hectic being a mother and student can get, she’s determined to keep making unique outfits for kids.
Chapple is the seamstress behind Haylani Apparel, which makes tuques, headbands, dresses, and rompers for kids. The name she gave her business is a combination of her daughters’ names: Hayden, Leilani and Dani (her fourth child was born this past October).
It all started in March 2015 out of a need to make items for her own children, given Yellowknife’s limited supply.
“I was trying to find clothes in town that I liked for my own daughters, which is hard, and I always ended up having to order online, so I thought maybe I should try and make it,” says Chapple.
With few sewing skills at that point, Chapple went to her aunt, who’s a sewer and beader, for help. Her aunt taught her the basics of sewing and Chapple took it from there.
The mother posted photos of her first romper online, which gained the attention of her friends and soon, many others.
“In the beginning, I was taking orders by writing it down in my notebook,” she says. “Eventually I couldn’t keep up and opened a website and it’s been pretty busy ever since.”
She’s not kidding. Chapple will notify customers when her website is up, but closes it to the public shortly after. That’s because, as a one-person company, she often gets more orders than she can make. Those items vary from bibs with hockey sticks on it, to striped and floral tuques, complete with a fuzzy pompom at the top. Not to mention her favourite item to make–the romper.
“Rompers are a big thing because they’re easy to get on and off of the kids when I change diapers. They can run around and do anything in rompers without being constricted.”
And seeing how her children can run around in them freely is her main point of inspiration. It’s because of her eldest daughter’s love of hockey and her middle child’s love of all things feminine that inspires Chapple to create hockey and floral prints, among other things. Her Metis background also acts as inspiration as she makes rompers with the words “Mini Metis” printed across them.
And while this designer has become an expert at juggling school, motherhood and sewing, making clothing for adults is more than she can take on.
“I had lot of people ask if I would do adult rompers, but I don’t know if I could,” she says. “I like how quickly I can whip up kids’ rompers and beanies.”
She mentions that each hat takes about five minutes to put together.
So, unfortunately, adults won’t be able to find full-grown sizes of Chattle’s cute creations. But if there’s a little one in your life, you’ll definitely want to dress them up in these designs.
Chapple is taking part in a few winter markets this year, including Yellowknife Makers Market, from now until November 23.