Lessons in Life from Our Favorite Mom-Daughter Fashion Duos

Getty Images Freud had a lot to say about the dynamic between a mother and…

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Freud had a lot to say about the dynamic between a mother and her daughter, notably a theory he liked to called the Electra complex—which I think is a bummer, to say the least. Luckily, there are counter ideas rooted in love rather than competition we can also look to, like that of parenting expert Dr. Shefali. Her take on one of life’s most impactful relationships? “My child isn’t an idea, an expectation, or a fantasy nor my reflection or legacy. … My child is here to fumble, stumble, try, and cry, learn and mess up, fail and try again,” she’s said. “My task is to step aside, stay in infinite possibility, heal my own wounds, fill my own bucket, and let my child fly.” There’s always pop culture’s to-the-point philosophy on empowered daughters: She got it from her mama.

Which is exactly what the following fashion mavens did. These mother-daughter duos have taken their familial relationships to the next level and gone into business together. Here, they talk entrepreneurship, style, and maintaining balance.

Silvia Tcherassi and Sofia Tcherassi of Silvia Tcherassi

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      How would you describe your brand?

      Silvia: Our luxury brand seeks to reflect a notion of effortless elegance, distancing itself from pretentiousness and overt excesses. Regardless of age or nationality, it is conceived for a timeless woman that appreciates fashion, small details, and well-made pieces. Our woman is looking for something unique and special—something she can connect with at an emotional level.

      When did you begin working together? Did you launch together, or did one come on to work on an existing brand?

      Silvia: I founded the brand 30 years ago with my mother, and Sofia officially joined last year as director of ready-to-wear, after graduating from Parsons. That being said, she was practically born into the business. From age six, Sofia has always traveled to Italy with me to develop our fabrics, and her first job was as a sales associate in our Miami boutique. I have great memories of her playing with fabrics as a young child.

      How do you each find working with the other? What are some of the biggest challenges and rewards?

      Silvia: It’s really great, because we are passionate about fashion, and we really enjoy working together, so it really doesn’t feel like a job. This is why our offices feel like a sacred space in which creative ideas are constantly being exchanged—it’s like being in a big apartment where we are permanently creating things.

      As for challenge, I think the biggest challenge Sofia faces is to continue our legacy.

      Sofia: Unlike a lot of family businesses, we really don’t separate the family from the business. Our dynamic is based around the company, and that is the way it has always been. I can’t stress enough how much I love working together. That being said, my big challenge is that my mom is also my boss.

      Do you have similar aesthetics and work styles? How are they similar or different?

      Sofia: While we are different, our styles very much complement one another’s. My mom is a creative soul and highly intuitive, and I am much more analytical and pragmatic. I think that is a good balance.

      Growing up, did you think you would make a good business pair?

      Silvia: We never doubted it, and everyone that knows us well could tell you the same thing. Sofia had an innate interest for fashion and the aesthetic in general. On the other hand, my son, Mauricio, explored various other industries before coming on board.

      What makes working with family so rewarding?

      Sofia: The greatest gratification is spending time together and having the opportunity to keep building something and dreaming together about the future.

      The mother-daughter bond is strong but often fraught. How do you navigate that realm and keep your emotional relationship healthy and positive?

      Silvia: I think the most important thing is to respect one another’s space. I always gave Sofia the liberty to develop her own style and vision—I never pressured her to be a designer. It was always her own choice.

      Sofia: We respect each other, and although I have less time in the company and don’t possess all of her experience and knowledge, she still values my opinions. I truly admire her, and I think that sets the tone for how we work. Our work relationship is just as good as our personal one, because they both go hand in hand—work can never affect our personal relationships.

      Najla and Cynthia Burt of Dur Doux

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      How would you describe your brand?

      Najla: Dur Doux (pronounced “Dur Do”) is a women’s accessible luxury lifestyle brand, which has been totally self-funded from inception to the present. The label is built on the concept of wearability with an avant-garde sensibility. Dur Doux’s signature is unique textured fabrications, unexpected details, and strong but feminine designs. Inspiration from the line comes from art, film, and travels around the world as a design.

      Did you launch together, or did one come on to work on an existing brand?

      Cynthia: In the last year at Parsons Design School, Najla developed the brand Dur Doux in early 2014. After graduation from Parsons, Najla asked me to join in with her to officially establish.

      How do you each find working with the other? What are some of the biggest challenges and rewards?

      Cynthia: I am very analytical, results oriented. As co-designer/CEO, I am methodical and business focused. While Najla is impassioned, she is a person who is very driven by instinct and creative energy in the moment. She is propelled to take action. She has to let her creativity flow out right at that moment, like electricity.

      Do you have similar aesthetics and work styles? How are they similar or different?

      Cynthia: As creative director, Najla’s aesthetic leans more towards fusing street style with contemporary high fashion. While my aesthetic/style is classic, elegant, and grand with a French twist. We both are very organized and share a firm commitment to processes for high-quality development, design, and production.

      Growing up, did you think you would make a good business pair?

      Najla: Growing up, I was not thinking about business. It was then and now all about family. Sharing in the growth of each other’s talents and supporting common life values. We loved to create, to see life as a series of opportunities to create beauty. Forging a deep bond of love and excitement for creativity and fashion between daughter and mother.

      What makes working with family so rewarding?

      Cynthia: The unwavering commitment, trust to each other, and a vision for life with all of your successes and all of your failures. As a family and as a team, we are both functioning out of the same brainwave.

      The mother-daughter bond is strong but often fraught. How do you navigate that realm and keep your emotional relationship healthy and positive?

      Najla: For the first year or so, we dedicated time to cultivating the fine art of relationships. We first gave time to acknowledging that our relationship is truly a precious, mercurial human dynamic. It’s two separate people trying to forge their uniqueness/talents together for a jointly held mission. This has been the foundation of which Dur Doux operates, and it is serving us well.

      Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka of House of Aama

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      How would you describe your brand?

      Rebecca: House if Aama is a storytelling fashion brand exploring nuanced histories in the Black experience through archival research, historical research, and storytelling. House of Aama creates colorful garments with Victorian lace, silk, and vintage references, as well as modern collectibles of hoodies, totes, and T-shirts.

      When did you begin working together? Did you launch together, or did one come on to work on an existing brand?

      Rebecca: We started the business in 2015 when Akua was in high school. Akua began experimenting with upcycling, and I had a sewing machine and helped her construct her garments. Akua’s friends became interested in her designs, and thus House of Aama was born with both of us working side by side, just like we do now.

      How do you each find working with the other? What are some of the biggest challenges and rewards?

      Rebecca: Working with my daughter is incredibly rewarding, as we are striving to create a Heritage Legacy brand that can be passed down through the generations as an inheritable asset. Like any family business, we have our squabbles and disputes, and I have to remind myself that Akua is an adult and not a child, and treat her accordingly.

      Akua: Growing up, I always watched my mother be a crafts woman by night while working a very hectic, masculine job as an attorney during the day. I really find it beautiful watching her explore and cultivate her creativity as we work together. It brings me so much inner joy. I think the most challenging part is understanding how our energy levels flow. I’m more of a task master, and my mother is more motivated by her emotions. It works beautifully for the business, but it’s also something we have to work through.

      Do you have similar aesthetics and work styles? How are they similar or different?

      Rebecca: I am also an attorney and have a geek, nerd, preppy girls aesthetic that transfers over to my design aesthetic. Not Akua. Akua is earthy, sexy, and a little sophisticated. However, we both love vintage design and timeless, modern garments.

      Akua: I’m a Capricorn Moon, and I’m definitely more of a task master. My mother brings a lot of the emotion, and I bring the direction and strategy. However, my mother is much better at meeting quick deadlines than me.

      Growing up, did you think you would make a good business pair?

      Rebecca: I didn’t think about that actually, because when we started the business, we just started. I didn’t think about whether or not I should work with my daughter. I just did, because I am her mother and it is my duty to help her fulfill he dreams and a few of mine as well.

      Akua: Aww, this is so beautiful. I agree. I truly believe we complement each other as business partners.

      What makes working with family so rewarding?

      Rebecca: Knowing that we get a 100 percent return on our blood, sweat, and tears.

      The mother-daughter bond is strong but often fraught. How do you navigate that realm and keep your emotional relationship healthy and positive?

      Akua: It is not easy, and we recognize that. We also have generational traumas that we are addressing in our commitment to working with each other that we know is beneficial to our family dynamic beyond just ourselves, and that keeps us rooted and focused.

      Bernadette and Charlotte De Geyter of Bernadette

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      When did you begin working together? Did you launch together, or did one come on to work on an existing brand?

          Charlotte: We were living in different countries at the time. I was doing an internship in London, and my mum was back in Antwerp. It was the first time we lived in different countries. We were catching up with each other’s lives every day, and at a certain point, we started dreaming about launching our own brand together. The more we talked about it, the more it became a reality.

          Bernadette: We started with a lot of Charlotte’s botanic drawings, an inspiring archive of vintage I collected over the years, and our strong mum-and-daughter relationship.

          How do you each find working with the other? What are some of the biggest challenges and rewards?

              Charlotte: A day at the office with my mom always brings a lot of joy. She’s full of wit and jokes, so she definitely makes a workday so much fun. During dinners or vacations, the biggest challenge is to stop working, to have a mum-and-daughter conversation without wandering off with our thoughts to work.

              Bernadette: The reward is definitely taking a step back once in a while and enjoy what we are creating. The Bernadette world is something we are creating together. It’s very close to who we are, and we’re happy to be sharing that part of our life together.

              Do you have similar aesthetics and work styles? How are they similar or different?

                  Charlotte: I can sometimes get caught up in stress, and therefore get quite serious. I’m so happy my mum can relax me and promise that it will all be okay in the end. At the end of the day, she’s still my mom, so she has the power to soothe me.

                  Growing up, did you think you would make a good business pair?

                      Charlotte: We were never really thinking about this strangely enough. We never really thought about starting something together until we really started. From that moment on, it immediately clicked. It’s like this was what we were supposed to do.

                      What makes working with family so rewarding?

                          Charlotte: Being proud together and the trust and respect that will always be there.

                          Bernadette: You know each other so well, and you can always tell the honest truth if you like or dislike something.

                          The mother-daughter bond is strong but often fraught. How do you navigate that realm and keep your emotional relationship healthy and positive?

                              Charlotte: It can be difficult sometimes, but we have found what works best for us. The good thing for us is that we love what we do, and we have so much fun together. This definitely makes it less difficult if we cannot stop talking about work.