For those of you who don’t have children, chances are you might know someone who does. In which case, the MAIIKE store on Church Street in Hawthorn will come in handy. Feride and Aly Peel are sisters-in-law and also co-owners of this very neat, sunlit retail space selling clothing, home wares, luxurious blocks of French soap and handmade toys.
Aly Peel is the founder and craftswoman behind the MAIIKE (pronounced ‘my-ka’) label. She started it more than 10 years ago and over time has directed the focus towards soft toys and handmade quilts for children. The endearing combination of colour-ways and fabric offcuts from recycled garments are the recognisable elements MAIIKE is known for. “I started the work with jumpers when I was tired of them always having long bodies and short sleeves. I chopped the hem off and added it to the cuffs. It strangely evolved from that.”
The label produces a small range of clothing but Aly’s passion for her handcrafted products is only emphasised by the challenges of selling children’s wear. “Parents are always at odds with the fact that their kid is going to grow out of it or destroy it in a matter of months or even days,” she explains. Unlike clothing, quilts and soft toys are something lasting as well as being a pleasure to give, receive and use for many years.
Feride Peel is the business side of the partnership, but also the adept interior designer who has created the uncluttered and fresh atmosphere of the store. The shelving system, displayed in the large window facing Lawes Street, was designed by Feride and custom made by Aly’s father. Mick Peel is the brother, husband and link between the two women. He, along with his father, sourced the floorboards from an old house in Broadmeadows and relayed them to become the humble foundations of the store.
It is evident that not just the products are focused around the idea of ‘family’. Feride is apprehensive to define the shop as a lifestyle store, explaining, “I don’t know how nice that term is; we [prefer] calling it a family store.” Since the opening in August last year, the store has seen many changes and is likely to continue evolving. “We are always looking for new things, especially those things that are hard to get,” explains Feride.
The careful curation of products has been sourced from a selection of different makers, mostly family friends of the Peels. Alistair Whyte is a Yarra Valley-based potter, making ceramics that are as beautiful as they are functional. Enough to make anyone clucky is the nursery furniture by Ubabub, and the bonnets and booties by eco-friendly knitwear label, Uimi. Equally as covetable are the artworks by Simon Browne, the long sleeved tops by Saint James and the tabletop of folded organic cotton towels.