I first heard of Mayhem on Instagram several months ago when her mom tagged me in a photo thanking me for my post about how to make a Blurb Instagram book without losing your damn mind. Her book was called ‘Fashion by Mayhem’ and upon clicking through her Instagram stream I fell in love with this little three-year-old girl with the creativity of a thousand little kids and her dedicated mama who encourages and assists Mayhem in all of her fashionable endeavors.
It would be impossible for me to pick my favorite Mayhem outfit, because every time I think I have one Angie posts, another one appears that outdoes my previous favorite. I asked Angie if she would answer a few questions about the #FashionByMayhem movement to go along with her amazing photos and she graciously obliged, answering them honestly — with humor and hope.
Watch out world, I have a feeling Mayhem is only beginning to realize her limitless creativity, imagination and potential — and it’s a fun thing to watch. Click through to find out why I’m so in love with Mayhem and so in love with her mom, Angie.
The Beginning 1 of 20
Q: Who instigated the first Fashion by Mayhem moment?
Definitely Mayhem. Not unlike many/all children, she was playing dress up a LOT, but she had moved to a phase where she was wanting to wear anything that could be wrapped around her body. I created the hashtag the day she put together an outfit consisting of an Aquadoodle mat, J Crew belt and Mr. Potato Head glasses. A while later, I suggested to her that we might be able to construct something out of paper. She begged until I did it. And she was hooked.
The First Paper Dress 2 of 20
This was the first paper dress Angie and Mayhem constructed over seven months ago, and it was just the beginning.
Conventional 3 of 20
Q: How does Mayhem/do you feel about conventional dress-ups the rest of us rely on?
We're fans. BIG fans. Truthfully, we have a closet full of princess, fairy, and superhero costumes she wears a lot. Full disclosure - her birthday is December 24th, so even with our sincere request for "scaling back on the gifts,"she ends up with a small avalanche of gifts in December and many of them have been dress-ups/costumes. She also happily pulls things from my closet. Which started making me crazy and was another driving factor in showing her that we could make outfits out of other stuff. I still occasionally find something of mine in her toy box or tucked away in her dresser. And every now and then I find her wearing a pair of my spanx as a jumpsuit.
Experience 4 of 20
Q: What is your background in assembling outfits from found objects? Or assembling outfits at all?
Does this include dressing myself each day? The most ironic part of this entire "project" is that I am the least fashionable person you might ever meet. My sister and I had a conversation last month discussing wearing the same outfit every day for the next year because we don't really enjoy figuring out what to wear each day. But I remember specifically one time hearing the words "you can't wear that, those aren't clothes" come out of my mouth and I knew I NEVER wanted to stifle her creativity again. So from that moment on, I've tried to take an approach of "why not?!" or "how can we???" each time she makes a request or shares an idea.
From the Mouth of Mayhem #1 5 of 20
"How 'bout we make a deal"... her negotiating skills are relentless!
Daily Routine 6 of 20
Q: Is there a routine to the daily outfits? Do you have a cap in place for outfits allowed in a day?
Yes and yes. Our day usually starts with Mayhem waking up way too early and we spend a little time on the couch "waking up." I drink coffee and sift through email and read a few favorite blogs while she surfs Netflix, only to inevitably turn on a Disney Buddies movie. Usually, just before I'm ready, she says "how about we go make a dress Mom?" Generally all of this happens pre-7am. So we head to the "design studio" (aka: the room I thought would be my office) and get to work. Most days, we make just one dress. Sometimes though, inspiration strikes again and she requests a second dress. I think the most we've ever done is three in one day and that's just too many. So the cap is two. But thankfully, one is usually enough.
Materials 7 of 20
Q: What are your favorite materials to work in?
Awesome question. I should tell you that we don't go and buy supplies specifically for outfit making. We use whatever we already have around the house and continuously recycle the materials from previous projects. Construction paper is good for more structured pieces, while tissue paper can be great for areas that need more form fitting or for creating volume. And tulle is just plain fun. With the holidays approaching, I pulled out a roll of heavy duty wrapping paper and we LOVE it! Oh, and we like packing tape. Lots and lots of clear packing tape.
Fashion Shark 8 of 20
From the post: "Inspired by her first #NewportAquarium visit yesterday, today's request was a shark dress. #fashionbymayhem"
Pish Posh, Project Runway 9 of 20
Q: What are your feelings on the unconventional challenges on Project Runway?I love them. My husband and I own a photography studio,so creativity and outside-the-box thinking are definitely embraced in our profession. But when the business side of me sometimes interferes with a "who in the world would ever buy/wear that?!" thought, I try to be quick in reminding myself that these are generally creativity exercises. And using our imagination to stretch our minds is a very good thing.
Fashion Faves 10 of 20
Q: Does Mayhem have any favorite designers? Do you?
Sadly, we don't, and it's due to my personal lack of fashion sense. While I have an appreciation for it, I've just never followed the fashion world very closely. I do enjoy watching red carpet events and awards shows and seeing who's wearing who, and I'm familiar with names, but I'd be a fish out of water trying to legitimately discuss anything regarding "real" fashion or designers.
Taylor Swift Image via Judy Eddy/WENN
Stocking Up 11 of 20
Q: What are the contents of your Costco cart?
Mayhem's February 2013 diagnosis of multiple serious food allergies means the contents of our cart are fairly lackluster. But our Costco ventures usually start with a stop at the photo center and end with coffee, wine (Cabernet Sauvignon please), a rotisserie chicken, fruits, veggies, paper, packing tape (if we're low), chai, Motts medley fruit snacks (the ONLY kind Mayhem will eat), and a dress shirt for my husband (he swears the Kirkland shirts are the best ever!). If Smartfood white cheddar popcorn is to be found, you better believe we have a bag of that in the cart too.
From the Mouth of Mayhem #2 12 of 20
"Just trust me!!!!" ...usually yelled as we try to interfere with some ER visit-worthy activity.
Playing Favorites 13 of 20
Q: What has been your most favorite outfit?
Tough choice, but today I'll say the Snow White dress we created. I remember her requesting it and me trying to persuade her to choose something else by saying I didn't know how to make a Snow White dress. And then Mayhem just said "I know you can do it Mom." I tell people frequently that this kid is raising me just as much as I'm raising her. There is a story and a very special (to me) mother-daughter moment behind each and every outfit, so choosing is tough. As cliche as it may sound, none of this is about the outfits for me. It's honestly just the two of us working together and figuring out what we're supposed to be learning from each other. This growing up stuff happens way too fast for my liking, so I'm happy that we were able to tap into something she really enjoys and I plan for us to keep making these outfits as long as she keeps requesting them.
Mayhem’s Choice 14 of 20
Q: What has been Mayhem's most favorite?
I brought up the #FashionByMayhem tagged images and let her scroll through. Without a bit of hesitation, she pointed to the Austin Scarlett Project Runway wedding dress replica and said "That one Mom. That was the best." For the record, it's very near the top of my list too.
Project Runway All Stars Photo Credit: Lifetime Television
From the Mouth of Mayhem #3 15 of 20
"You're a bit of a fixer upper Mom" ...because of 2 movie theater viewings of Frozen.
By Popular Vote 16 of 20
Q: Which has been the most popular?
Thus far, our replica of Austin Scarlett's wedding gown from Project Runway All Stars. But surprisingly, the Hello Kitty dress is the second most popular. And funny enough, this was one of those 2nd-dress-of-the-day projects and literally took no time to make.
Public Mayhem 17 of 20
Q: When Mayhem isn't wearing paper gowns, what would one find her dressed in?
Nothing. She's in the "undies only" phase. (Please tell me this is a phase!) I swear to you we CANNOT keep clothes on this kid at home. If we force her into pajamas at bedtime, she strips them off as soon as we leave her room. Have I mentioned we live in Ohio and it's COLD here right now? Going out in public though, she's a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Most likely from Old Navy and/or Target. And she almost always has gym shoes on because she is a play hard kind of kid. But if you invite us to your house, she'll likely disrobe as soon as she feels comfortable. Which may explain the limited invitations we receive.
Fame and the Future 18 of 20
Q: What would you love to see come of this?
How about if Mayhem does a book, goes on the Ellen Show to promote it, becomes famous, reaps fortune, buys a private jet and we move to a tropical island (or someplace that's warm year round)? I did create a book with Blurb a couple months ago and it was simply meant to be a keepsake for our family. I've had several people ask if they could purchase a copy and while the first wasn't designed with others in mind, I've been strongly encouraged to create another. So we have a second one in the works that we're doing a little differently and would love to share that should there continue to be interest. So we'll see.
As far as the BIG DREAM goes, I'd say opportunities. In our house we're big believers in embracing as many opportunities that come our way as possible. Right now it would be very cool to see a "place" (online or in person) where kids could design and create their own dress-up outfits. Real ones. Something similar to the Build a Bear concept or the virtual build your own roller coaster at Disney. Something experiential and not just 2D. Do I have a business plan? No. Am I working on one? Not at the moment. Probably because deep down I already feel like I'm living the dream by getting to be Mayhem's mama. She's my hero. And I tell her that every night when I tuck her in. Whatever comes next is a gift and we will embrace whatever lesson comes along with it. I know this won't last forever so I would LOVE to see that Mayhem continues to have a strong sense of confidence in her abilities, and for creative problem solving to be her default approach to obstacles. (That might be my goal for myself as well....) We have our struggles, our battles, difficulties, frustrations, and challenges just like every other parent and child out there. (In addition to the naked phase, we're also in the get back out of bed 20 times nightly phase.) But if sharing our adventure is in anyway an encouragement to someone else, then I think we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. For now anyway.
Upcycling 19 of 20
From the original post: "Just figured out what to do with the 8000 watercolors she's painted in the past few weeks. Pretty sure my husband is going to be THRILLED they are no longer wallpapering the living room ;) #fashionbymayhem"
One of MY personal favorites. 20 of 20
She's my favorite, you love her too don't you? Don't forget to follow Angie and Mayhem on Instagram!
- You can find Angie at her blog here.
- You can follow Angie on Twitter here.
- And the very best, you can follow Angie, Mayhem the fashion forward toddler and #FashionByMayhem on Instagram here.
All Mayhem photos courtesy of Angie Keiser and used with permission.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy or her Babble Voices site Shutterlovely. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.