A phot of Carla Darling, founder of Mauda at her desk in her home-studio. There's a laptop with the Mauda logo over a black background and some stationery over and underneath the desk.

About

Fashion has, for the longest I can remember, been my passion. So, it was no surprise that after growing up hand stitching small alterations to achieve the look that I wanted, that my first savings went towards a sewing machine. Then later towards a Fashion Design course. And latterly, the brand Mauda.

Despite fashion being my big dream, my career (until end of 2020) was across IT and Financial Services. Safe employment for sure, but similar to many people in the industry, I was a faceless employee delivering or supporting services to customers I never saw or interacted with. I often wondered what impact or benefit what I was doing actually had on anyone.

My parents have had their own business for decades. An open door for customers to come in, purchase the goods and give you direct feedback, the good and the bad in the most constructive or destructive way. But you see your customers. You know their names and the joys they get out of doing business with you. Having my own “wee” business was therefore something playing in the back of mind for a while, but it was never the right time. So, when I was made redundant I didn’t look back. The time is now!

The Inspiration

A picture of the cover of Sinead Burke's "Break the mould" book next to a sketch of Mauda's Frances Trousers, a pencil and a white card with the word "Mauda" printed in black.

Inspiration can come in many forms and at different times. It’s amazing how much we take for granted and how that can make us unaware of our surroundings. In the hope of listening to some football (that wasn’t even scheduled…), my husband ended up listening to an interview that was the turning point for what I was about to do next. The interviewee on this day was Sinead Burke and the topic was her newly released book: “Break the mould”.

After watching and reading her account of the challenges she and thousands of people with disabilities face on a daily basis simply due to a lack of inclusive design thinking, has made me determined to use my knowledge and skill towards changing that. At least in fashion.

The Brand

The name Mauda?  There’s no mystique, it’s a simple play on the Portuguese for fashion – Moda – Portuguese being my native language, with a little help from Elsie Maud Inglis.  She was a strong woman who offered her medical services as well as the services of other female doctors in hospitals during the 1st World War but was told to “go home and sit still”. Her response?  Amongst other things she formed the Scottish Women’s Hospitals providing support for British Allies. This attitude is what Mauda is all about. A challenge didn’t stop Inglis from doing what she believed in and it won’t stop us from creating unique accessible fashion for a unique style.

The Journey

First and foremost, Mauda is a fashion brand for women. All women.

I design pieces as if they were for me, but taking into account what Sinead and several other people called out about fashion and disability. So I design clothes with an accessibility hat on. Less fiddly fastenings and embellishments. Simply accessible fashion. Accessible design is not a requirement for a few. It should be the baseline for design from the outset. And women shouldn’t need to shop at different brands depending on their ability because fashion is for everyone. 

Mauda’s design thinking has disability needs at heart. I aim to create stylish items that anyone (with a disability or non-disabled) could wear, preferably more than once. Above all, I want to create a community where women are the common denominator. Not their bodies, or their abilities. Simply a brand for women. All women. Pieces from Our Collection are currently designed/made with care, by me, in my little home studio in Scotland. I produce very small quantities from small batches of fabric or remnants to avoid unnecessary waste. If a size isn’t in stock, or you’d like a different fastening simply reach out and I’ll have that made for you. Check our sizing guide for reference.

The Ethics

Mauda is a small business, that just started its journey in ’21 and I understand how important support from the local community is. That’s why I try to work as far as possible with local UK-based businesses and suppliers to bring unique pieces to you. I’m prioritising natural fibres where possible to minimise Mauda’s footprint. I also use recycled shipping boxes, tissue and bags all supplied by UK businesses.

As a small business owner I’m available to listen to your feedback or clarify your queries. Should you require further information on any of our items or simply discuss any amendments to a design to better suit your needs, I’d be delighted to assist. Just reach out at carla@mauda.co.uk and we can work together to ensure you get your unique piece.

I’m looking forward to meeting you here soon.