entrepreneurial Inspiration Makers Q+A

Maker Spotlight: Frannie + Lilo

“We are inspired by all the brave women and mamas out there who struggle every day to take care of themselves and their beautiful families.”

We are so thrilled to welcome our newest maker, Frannie + Lilo to BRIKA’s creative community. When I first came across this female and mama-led brand I was immediately touched by the story of how it came to be and impressed by the care that went into creating the product line.

Read on to get to know Lysanne and Francesa, founders of Frannie + Lilo:

How did you start your company?

We are two new mamas who have struggled with child loss, depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. We met in a prenatal class and became fast friends when our sons Bodie and Finn were born 10 days apart. We know first hand how difficult motherhood can be and we want to support women wherever they are in their motherhood journey. We want to raise awareness about child loss, miscarriage, and postpartum mood disorders and fight the taboo of discussing these traumatic experiences. One in four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Up to 25% of mother face postpartum depression and even more face postpartum anxiety. We want to help mamas get support, so we donate a portion of every shirt sold to five child loss and postpartum charities.

What is your design background?

Lysanne is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker, journalist, and mama-turned-entrepreneur. She has always been passionate about the visual arts, from directing to photography to graphic design. She studied photography at Ryerson University and participated in the prestigious Missouri Photo Workshop. She worked as a director and producer at CBC for 12 years before becoming a mother.

Tell us about your ideal Saturday.

Our ideal Saturday would start with an early morning run along the beach. Then we would pick up breakfast sandwiches and coffee and take Bodie and Finn to the park to play. The boys would have a nice long afternoon nap while we worked for a couple of hours. In the evening, we would make dinner with our husbands, put the boys to bed, and watch Netflix.

Tell us about a challenge you’ve had to overcome and how it has affected your business.

After witnessing the horrific aftermath of the Rana Plaza apparel factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 that killed 1100 people, Lysanne decided she wanted to start her own clothing line. It was a long journey from that realization to launching FRANNIE + LILO.  Lysanne was plagued with nightmares, panic attacks, and deep depression for years after meeting the victims of the Rana Plaza tragedy.  When her son Finnley was born, her depression and anxiety returned. Only when she began working on FRANNIE + LILO did she imagine a way to move forward and turn her experiences into something positive for other mamas.

After her first miscarriage, Francesca’s son Phoenix was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder at 24 weeks in utero, a condition that is often “incompatible with life.”  After 15 hours of labour — and against all odds — Phoenix was born alive.  Even though his skin was paper thin and his arms and legs were broken in many places, he lived for over 5 hours cradled in his mother’s loving arms.  That day marked the beginning of a journey through grief that may never be over for Francesca. Phoenix’s younger brother, Bodie, was born almost exactly one year after his due date.  Bodie’s birth was a gift that has helped Francesca find her voice and passion again.  Through FRANNIE + LILO, she hopes to fight the taboo of discussing miscarriage and child loss, and raise money to support other mamas faced with this kind of tragedy.

Who do you look up to?

Our mothers and grandmothers for teaching us unconditional love and patience.

Lysanne Louter is an Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker and mama. She was inspired to start her own Made-in-Canada clothing line after witnessing the aftermath of the Rana Plaza factory collapse that killed 1100 people in Bangladesh. Francesca Brunsden is a transplanted Brit, a queen-crafter and hairstylist, and one brave mama. After losing her son Phoenix at 24 weeks in utero, she hopes to fight the taboo of discussing miscarriage and child loss, and raise money to support other mamas faced with this kind of tragedy. Together they are Frannie + Lilo.

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