Behind the Seams Series – On the life of the Designer: Dian McManus

Runaway Pony Photoshoot

Hello! I think you know that I am Runaway Pony’s designer. I am Dian McManus, a mom of two little darlings below the ages of 8. When I started Runaway Pony, Fiona, my 4-yo was almost 1 year old. Keira, my biggest is almost 8 now. It was a true-vintage baby sunsuit that Keira’s Grandma Sally gave me when Keira was born that sparked the love for creating vintage-inspired baby and little children’s clothing line Runaway Pony. That sunsuit was worn by Grandma Sally in the 50s. That’s how Sunkissed Sally sunsuits were born when Fiona was still carried in the baby carrier:) Here is a photo of me and my sweet family from our summer vacation in Paris last year.

The McManus Family

I have been meaning to post this series on a regular basis ever since we launched more than 2.5 years ago! Oh dear. How time flies! Having a business of small children and having small children definitely makes time move in the speed of light right before my eyes!

This is an overdue post. I promise I will be better sharing stories here on the blog because it is always fun to share. This journey of idea-creating, garment-making and product-selling is so fascinating to me. Our line has grown and it has been such a blessing. Before LAST YEAR’s holiday season in fall 2015 (it’s been that long since I wanted to share this), we have been blessed to fulfill overflowing (at least to our world!) orders for Spring 2016. (And we are now working on getting things lined up for Spring 2017 orders that have been pouring in as well. THANK YOU!) So my busy days have gotten extremely packed and a week is like an hour. In early Spring this year, between deliveries, we had to restock and reproduce some of the best-selling styles multiple times fulfill more orders! I had never thought that we would be where we are. We are so grateful that now our line is carried at over 40 stores and more than a dozen more will be new retailers next Spring. We count our blessings everyday and are extremely grateful for our wonderful ladies at Lindsay’s Loft and Southern Fried Chicks Showroom*. The stores that carry us are so darling and amazing. We love them and we love our customers!

The collections have definitely grown right before my very eyes. I have learned what styles and designs make my heart putter faster and what make you love our line. Everyday I can just come up with a new look or design in my head. Ideas always burst out. Sometimes, I have to kind of stop myself. Not because I want to, but a lot of times the creative juices flow in when I am driving on the 110 freeway on the way to work! Anyway, we now have the latest collection being shown at markets with Lindsay’s Loft: the Spring 2017! Be sure to check our line at markets if you are a retailer :) Here is a sneak peek! There are SO MANY more cute ones!

 

Runaway Pony SS17 - A Sneak Peek

Runaway Pony SS17 – A Sneak Peek

Runaway Pony SS17

Grabbed from our linesheet. Pardon the numbers on these sweets!

I am trying to share more on the blog for this Behind the Seams, a behind-the-scenes series, that posts about work days, the daily stress and triumph, the failures and achievements throughout the day or the week, the things that I cannot type so much on social media. Those who have followed us for awhile on Instagram and Facebook probably have seen glimpses of our behind-the-scenes. You can tell that I cannot keep captions short most of the time. That seems like a natural thing for me to NOT make things “simple”. Ha ha! I am sure not a minimalist. That shows a lot in the way I am dressed everyday (and how I “dresss” our home and atelier, too). – I am a big fan of the American interior designer icon Dorothy Draper (and interior designer Kelly Wearstler, for the modern take of Hollywood Regency style) – My neighbors and moms at school are used to seeing me “fully decorated” on a daily basis, I think? :) Even when I am not in downtown at the atelier and just working from home.

Without FURTHER DUE, here are some pictures from our atelier and how it looks like when we are busy delivering and producing with little ones in tow!

Some of the first batch deliveries…Runaway Pony Shipping Spring 16

Everyone got busy! Especially on their school break! (A really dear friend Sandra and her kids came to say hello to us and then I got extra help! Thanks, Mommy Sandra, Audrey and Alex!)

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After water-color painting and helping mommy with “decorating” a pattern, she needed some downtime…I don’t give her this luxury often ha ha!

Runaway Pony

Runaway Pony

I wanted to cuddle next to her so much! But work needed my cuddles too.

Runaway Pony

Runaway Pony

I also wanted to share some behind-the-scenes photos I never shared earlier this year! Julie Daniels from Julie Daniels Photography has been our photographer for our lookbooks and I just love working with her and our French stylist friend Karen Ayadi (with her gorgeous jeune fille, Emily).

Julie Daniels

Runaway Pony Photoshoot

They created those super cute clouds!!! (Among many thoughtful props they brought to the set!)

Runaway Pony Photoshoot

For more story of how I juggle this whole thing, an amazing documentary and an award-winning wedding photographer Erwin Darmali wanted to follow me around one day. He wanted to capture my everyday story that he thought could inspire others to bring more positive vibes to the world. I asked him why me. He said because I was the most positive person he had ever known and my life inspired him. I am very honored. So I told him my days were crazy and full of gear switching, suggested him to take a lot of coffee and see if he could catch up with me. He said “Even better.” So I let him follow me from dawn to way over dusk. He arrived at 6am in the morning and I forgot he was there as my shadow as soon as the day started. This 8-min clip on Erwin’s site captures a glimpse of my day at our home and work. Home was in Santa Monica, where Runaway Pony was born before we grew more and moved my atelier to downtown LA. This summer, our family just moved to a new house we just purchased, a California ranch house, in Palos Verdes – which we LOVE. I especially love our backyard, the ocean and city views and space. Phew, we got a lot more space now. The film was taken in our tiny old place but full-of-memories home in Santa Monica. Though we miss our friends there, we love our new house in Palos Verdes. It’s like living on the countryside but it’s only half an hour from downtown LA! (That’s amazing for LA traffic). We keep the atelier in downtown for more efficient and effective work flow. Love that we make our garments right there in downtown. In the atelier’s “backyard”. To see my short documentary he created, click here.

Erwin preparing for my  interview. This guy is so focused no wonder his work is second to none!

Interview

Runaway Pony Movie on www.erwindarmali.com

Runaway Pony Movie on www.erwindarmali.com

 

My life still has been pretty much the same ever since we moved to the new house – still driving back and forth with Fiona almost everyday while Keira is at school – only more exciting with more home-improvement projects and home decor things, another passions I love doing. It’s amazing what space can do and what decorating can do to space. Just like what fashion can do to how we and our little darlings feel. It definitely feels more relaxing now that we have a big wrapped-around backyard for the girls to play more – no electronic gadgets at all everyday!!! They play Barbie endlessly, make arts and crafts, ride their wagon around the yard or run around through the sprinklers.  When I am in our backyard, I feel so peaceful. Sometimes peacocks show up to say hello. I always love country living yet I am still a city girl.  Maybe one day we will have chickens, cows or horses! But for now, I love decorating our farmhouse with French and Southern countryside style mixed with Hollywood and Parisian glam touch. All that. I love many things, but I am still picky. Follow my days on Instagram @dianmcmanus  (I will soon launch my personal blog/site!).

Thank you all for reading! And most of all, thank you all for supporting Runaway Pony and celebrating childhood moments with us! It means the WORLD to me.

Smooches and blessings,

Dian

My Little Darlings

  • Southern Fried Chicks showroom is no longer represents our line. For our sales rep info, please go to here

Nostalgia of Our Summer

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It’s bittersweet for me this year more than ever that summer is over. It happens every year though I love fall and even love winter more. But there is something so playfully amazing about summer, and it’s hard to end it sometimes.

I hope that your summer was fabulous! The bright days sure give us the exuberant joyful spirit and the days are longer for the little ones to play. I cannot believe we are officially in fall season and the holidays are just around the corner. (We have even bought our Nutcracker performance tickets!)

So when a beautiful summer is over, it’s hard for me to let go. I had many fond memories of the sunny days this year more than ever as a mom (and momtrepreneur). The girls are bigger now. Keira and Fiona can now play so much more together, which makes a lot of activities so much more fun. When on the road, they chat, they sing, they giggle and soak up the sisterly love together.  At home, they play Barbie dolls together (though there are times Keira needs to have her own playtime alone, “uninterrupted” from her 2-yo little sister). But the two of them are the sweetest things in my life and they love each other to pieces.

So, here is something that brings up that warm feeling inside…

Summer schedule in our house has not been structured at all. The girls have more “loose” schedules so they can enjoy their childhood and long sunny days even more. Keira finished her Kindergarten this summer  (with flying colors! As colorful as Kindergarten reports can be) and was fully at home with mommy and her baby sister this summer. They made so many messes at home, though we did get out for a couple mini vacations, in Palm Springs then Cannon Beach, Oregon, and had a blast. Keira opted for no camps this summer because she said she wanted to be with mama and her little sister, whom she calls “Little” these days. I have to say I am flattered she likes to spend time with me. I love having them home within arms’ reach. Yes, it was challenging, working as a momtrepreneur while caring for the two little sweethearts. (Painting nails on a daily basis, anyone?)

Aside from our mini trips here and there, we had a couple of amazing times at two of our Trunk Shows. Thank you to Kumquat Baby and Jaxx Boutique for hosting and carrying our lines. We had a blast at both events! It was so fun to meet the customers in person and see what they thought of our clothing designs! Thank you for those who came and all of you who support us!

Regardless what you did with your kids this summer, I really hope you had plenty of soaking up playful, loving time with your little darlings. I want to invite you to take a look at what we have done this summer. May the exuberant feeling of the fun-in-the-sun days last in your heart forever!

Summer makes us think of endless playdates on the warm sand…frolicking with friends and creating more memories. Here are Keira and Fiona’s dear friends playing in the sand early this summer. No matter where life takes them one day, we always remember the abundant love they have for another.

Nostalgiacherished

flower girl dresses

Summer makes us think of mini vacations and have a lot of fun on the trip!

Here are some pictures from our Palm Springs mini trips this summer. Yes, we did it twice this summer! Nothing hotter here in California than the deserts. We always love going to Palm Springs and staying at the Viceroy Palm Springs. There is something about feeling the California desert heat, being in the pool (family pool, that is) all day, and to me, personally, the charming Old Hollywood glamour mixed with bold chic-modern interior decor style that I always adore, that brings back the Hollywood golden days in Palm Springs. Or in anywhere. (I am a big fan of the American home decorator icon Dorothy Draper and today’s icon Kelly Wearstler) Oh! Be dazzling, dahhling! It was about time. It had been a few years since the last time we stayed there (we started this “tradition” when I was pregnant heavily with Keira (our “babymoon”).

Stole a moment on the road

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Always in love with this Citron restaurant in the resort

(photo courtesy of Viceroy Palm Springs)citron1

Fiona doing “bunny jumps”, so happy to have arrived in the villa  discount BRIDESMAID DRESSES 2016 and 2017

I had my usual urge to take a picture of both girls. Don’t you just love this wallpaper? This was taken in our dining room in the villa

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How Fiona lounged by the (family) pool :)
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Pools. We just love pools. Especially this family pool.

(Photo courtesy of the Viceroy Palm Springs)
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Fiona acting as a sleeping baby. This girl can act!

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 With love from our “home” in the desert

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 This picture below: top part of the picture was taken about 6 years ago, the below part of the picture was taken this summer. Some things do change!lookingback

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This below picture was taken by Keira :)

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We also loved our short vacation in Cannon Beach, Portland. We rented a cottage right on the beach so we got to see this view everyday.

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We got to see the annual Cannon Beach Sand Castle Festival during our stay there and I just loved these flags (along with the amazing sand castles, of course)

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One of our new designs also had a mini vacation with us :)


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Another reason to love summer for me is: America’s birthday! (And my birthday :)! So, every year, we celebrate the two events together and I am lucky that the festivities always include a parade and watching fireworks. Look who did not take a nap until really late this Fourth of July, in her all-American romper!

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Here are some pictures from our Trunk Shows this summer!

Kumquat Baby Boutique, Eagle Rock – Los Angeles

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Jaxx Boutique in the Westside Pavilion Mall – West Los Angeles

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Last but never least! We always have to visit to the strawberry field in summer! We went to our favorite Underwood Family Farms, their smaller farm this time, but equally beautiful, in Somis, California. (Their other farm we have visited also is in Moorpark, California). The girls had fun “harvesting” strawberries and blueberries! (Although, the latter was more difficult. Especially when Fiona just kept eating what we picked! Ha ha!)

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And for those who would love the strawberry jam recipe, here it is! We love summer and hope you and your little ones are having a fabulous summer!

Strawberry Jam Recipe

INGREDIENTS:

1 quart = 2 pint = 4 cups of fresh strawberries (about 2 pounds)

3/4 cup sugar (or 1 cup if you like it sweeter)

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (3/4 of one whole lemon approximately)

HOW TO MAKE IT:

Wash and hull the strawberries

Put them in the processor to coarsely chop them

Transfer to a large skillet on medium heat

Pour sugar

Pour lemon juice

Stir frequently while bringing it to boil (about 10 minutes)

Put on low heat, stir again, simmer for 3 more minutes

DONE!

Now pour into jars and refrigerate before serving for an hour

BONUS:

Your kitchen and home will smell deliciously! As well as your face:) I got a kiss from Fiona and she said, “You smell like strawberries, Mama!”

I could go on and on with this post but I had to stop as it has too many photos already and I probably made you yawn;)

I am ready for fall and winter now (though it never gets so cold here in California!)

What is your most favorite summer nostalgia this year?

XOXO,

Dian

Runaway Pony Featured in TFBM Magazine Issue 3

Issue 3 March 2014 TFBM Magazine

We had a festive Friday as we were generously featured in such a gorgeous magazine TFBM Issue 3. We have been following Katie Nguyen, the amazing and talented editor, the very inspiring designer and entrepreneur of TFBM – The Fashion Business Mentor and her own very cute clothing line Kangacoo Designs for her insightful articles and amazing magazines.

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Thank you, TFBM, for featuring us. And for featuring us so generously. This is our very first press after our Press Release last month following our launch. If you are a parent who loves all things fabulous for your children, an independent designer, a photographer, an artist, a stylemaker, or an entrepreneur of any kind, we strongly suggest you follow The Fashion Business Mentor as it will give you the pleasure, the inspiration, and the answers that you probably have been searching for in many areas.

Here we are in TFBM Issue 3 that covers the article of “Choosing Photos for your Line Launch”! Pages 66 thru 71! So fun!

Issue 3 March 2014 TFBM Magazine

Issue 3 March 2014 TFBM Magazine

Issue 3 March 2014 TFBM Magazine

Issue 3 March 2014 TFBM Magazine

We are so blessed to have many talented friends around. These amazing photos and most of our product photos were captured by the sweet and talented Nicole Benitez from Nicole Benitez Photography. Nicole is also featured in this stunning Issue 3 of TFBM and one of her images made the photo cover. You can view the cool magazine online here .  Check it out for “some serious eye candy”, as Nicole put it!

Our little Keira and Fiona are represented by a very nurturing and extraordinary modeling agency Paloma Model and Talent (PMT). We got introduced to with “Miss Nicole”, as how our girls call her, through another sweet mom in PMT. Nicole then shared Katie’s blog with us and we immediately fell in love with Katie’s articles. We started to follow her blog immediately and Katie has been so helpful in mentoring us through our decision making and research. And then when chose Nicole, we did a casting call, we received beautiful submissions from PMT’s little models. We wished we could have had them all to represent us! Thank you, little models for representing Runaway Pony! Huge thanks to all of our friends that have helped us launch the line. We are also so grateful for Paloma Model and Talent for connecting us with such talented friends all around!

We love celebrating children everyday and we are so happy when we can share that passion to the world through the media who loves us also for the story that stands behind our collection.

Thank you fans and friends for being there for us. You always have a special place in our heart.

For those precious moments of celebrated childhood, XOXO,

Dian