Creator Ariane Clark makes classically beautiful clothing from vintage materials

Ariane Clark, creator of Little Love Birds, a sustainable children’s goods line, has always loved fashion. From her high school days spent sewing to touring with Shania Twain as wardrobe manager to running a vintage shop on eBay, Clark’s creative passion has never waned. When she and her husband moved to Hamilton in 2016, they were about to have twin girls – sisters for their two-year-old daughter. “The amount of clothing kids go through is astonishing,” she says. “I’ve always worked with vintage fashion and it seemed like a logical step to make clothes for our kids. Sustainability and reducing waste is important to me, but it was difficult to find clothes that were affordable, long-wearing and eco-friendly.” So, she decided to seek out materials with little to no carbon footprint, and the idea for Little Love Birds was born.

Clark exclusively uses vintage fabric and deadstock – pieces from manufacturers and designers that they would otherwise discard – and sews everything by hand at her home in Hamilton. Sustainability is the concept that drives her business; reducing the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills and creating heirloom clothing that can be passed down is the goal. But Little Love Birds may not have happened if Clark hadn’t moved to Hamilton. “The city is so supportive of entrepreneurs,” she says. “I applied for the Starter Company, plus a business grant through the Small Business Enterprise Centre and was given the opportunity to learn so much. They teach you how to write a business plan, do market research and understand the financials of running a small business.”

Currently, Little Love Birds consists of ready-made dresses, reversible rompers, pants and bloomers in sizes 0-3 months to 5T, plus crib sheets and change pad covers. Made-to-order custom pieces are always an option – a welcome convenience for hard-to-fit kids. Check the shop to see what’s available, as items are always changing depending on what types of fabric Clark has sourced. Her favourite places to hunt vintage fabrics? “Value Village,” she says, “because everything is clean and organized.” Bed linens are a great find, especially lovely washed out florals, a recurring theme in the line.

Working out of her home can have its challenges, especially with three kids under five. But Clark finds time during naps and after bedtime to plan, design and sew. She recently began renting space in Steel City Studios, a creative co-working facility downtown, to have more room for her industrial sewing machines and to be surrounded by other makers.

What’s next for Little Love Birds? Clark takes a moment to consider the next five years. “I’d love to run a sustainable factory, where goods can be manufactured in an ecologically responsible way.” And hopefully, she’ll still be making beautiful children’s clothes that can be saved and worn by future generations.