Interview with Lorena Mark, founder of Lo-Mark Knitwear: being a mom boss and breaking fashion stereotypes.
Blisshood: Lorena, what brought you to Paris and how long been living here?
Lorena: I’ve been living in Paris for the past ten years. What brought me to Paris? My husband’s job. We used to live in Barcelona. Then, my husband got an MBA and a job offer in France so, here we are.
As a mother, what has been the hardest thing about living in Paris?
Lorena: When I moved to Paris, we didn’t have any kids. We used to live close to Les Marais and we had lots of fun…with a child it is much more difficult to go out.
The hardest thing about living in Paris as an expat mom is being alone, being away from family, and not having much help, especially during the first few months when kids are very little. Then, when they start going to school, everything changes. But, at the beginning, you are very lonely and unfortunately, there is not much to do or many places to go to in Paris with small children.
So, how did you overcome those difficulties? How did you start forming your own social circle?
Lorena: I found a great community called MumAround and joined my neighborhood group. Back then, I used to join the group once a week. It allowed me to meet other mothers, to talk and to see what activities we could do together. Afterwards, I found a place called La Maison Verte that was created by Françoise Dolto, a very famous psychologist in the seventies. She created a house in the 15th arrondissement for children from zero up to four years old. It is a space where you can share time together. A place for meeting other children and parents. Going to La Maison Verte was wonderful because my son was with other babies and I was also able to spend time with other mothers.
Do you think that being a foreign mother in this city has made you more resilient?
Lorena: Yes, it has. Before having my son I didn't miss my country at all! I was I was happy to live abroad and to be able to learn another language. After my son was born, I began to miss Argentina and to think “this is hard”. I left my career in Argentina but managed to find a place to work here in Paris. When my son was born, I stopped working again. You know, you want to do things, but you have to wait until the kids are a little bigger. And now that my kid is a little bit older, I can finally start to develop a project that I like.
Blisshood: So, tell me about the Lo-Mark project…why do you decide to go start a knitwear brand?
Lorena: Well, in Argentina, I was a clothing designer, specifically, artisanal knitwear. I always liked fashion design and knitting. I love wool plus my grandmother taught me how to knit. All that knitting universe attracts me very much.
When I came to Europe, I did a masters in shoe design. Then, I abandoned knitwear design and devoted myself to footwear. But, when my son was born, I wanted to go back to my first love: knitting. And here I am, doing something artisanal again. It occurred to me to make products that are related to Latin America but that are not stereotypical. I wanted it to have a European design but with the materials and craftsmanship of Latin America. One day, I started to draw and beautiful ideas started to come to mind. So, I contacted a Peruvian girl who helped me find artisans who could work on this project and she also helped me to get the alpaca wool. Once I got the first samples, they were so nice that I got excited and decided to formally launch the brand.
What advice do you give to a mom who is considering the possibility of starting her own business?
Lorena: I actually think it is easier to have your own project than to work at a traditional job. When I used to work for a shoe brand, I couldn't work and take care of my son the way I wanted to. And, since I really want to take care of him, I decided to work from home. I think it is one of the best things you can do: trying to do something that you love and being able to reconcile it with being a mom. For me that is great.
Since you are in the fashion industry, what is your advice to moms who want to look good, especially in Paris?
Lorena: Wow! In Paris, it is difficult not to be fashionable because there are so many elegant people around to draw inspiration from. Although, it is true that when my son was born I stopped taking care of myself the way I used to— it is not the same to get dressed to go to an office than to get dressed to go to the park. You can't be dressed up because your clothes might get ruined. But at the same time, one can be pretty. When you don't go to the park, you can wear more elegant pieces, that’s what I do. Now, I try to put on makeup every day, I fix my hair and since I enjoy fashion I try to buy things that I love and I take good care of them. I usually wear these pieces when I go out with my husband.
Who is your muse? When you design for Lo-Mark, who are you inspired by?
Lorena: I think a lot about moms, actually, the moms I see outside of school every day are my muses because a poncho is a garment that is easy to wear when you're in a hurry. In fact, I wear ponchos a lot! It takes a few seconds to put them on and I’m out the door. It seems to me that the poncho is practical and, at the same time, it is warm and cute and different. Plus, I hope to have the ponchos for children available for sale in our website around November.
Overall, moms inspire me because they are the group I spend the most time with on a daily basis but also because I am a mom.
Blisshood: What do you hope to achieve with this brand?
I am not a person who has grandiose dreams. I would like to have a concept store in Paris that carries my brand but also other brands in order to make people discover the beauty of Latin American crafts, without the stereotypes that they tend to associate with Latin fashion—such as being very colorful. It would be a concept store similar to Merci, for example, with clothes and maybe a small restaurant.
Blisshood: What does bliss mean to you? How do you follow it in your daily life?
I am a very positive person, in general. I don't think too much about the future or about the past. I prefer to enjoy each day as it comes. And, above anything else, I enjoy spending time with my son who brings me lots of happiness. Although, sometimes it is exhausting. For me, traveling, meeting other people, and spending time with family is bliss.
Originally from Argentina, Lorena is the name of the creator of Lo Mark.
It is in her country that she discovered the work of the mesh. This ancestral know-how has been passed on to her through the many local workshops she has worked with for years as a stylist.
Lorena has always had the taste of travel, the desire to explore the world. She put down her suitcases in Spain then in Paris and settled here.
Lo Mark is a brand of knitwear inspired by the best of both worlds dear to Lorena. From Latin America, she adopts the beautiful materials, the requirement and the patience of the craftsmen to make products of exceptional quality. From Paris she retains the grace and elegance of an easy to wear style with personality.