Selene Xie on Mum-focused Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums
Hong Kong/ Venture/ Careers

Elevator Pitch: Selene Xie, Founder of Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums

Selene Xie on Mum focused Fashion Brand The Rebel Mums Header

Over the last 50 years, the role of women in nuclear families has progressively evolved, with mothers taking on more economic responsibilities to contribute to the family income. Nowadays, modern mums are faced with unique challenges of simultaneously juggling domestic responsibilities such as childcare, schooling, and employment.

Working mothers are a resilient, yet often overlooked, group in the modern day workforce. According to a report made by Pew Research, many women remain conflicted about the roles they play at work and at home. Findings revealed that women in particular feel the tug of family responsibilities more acutely than working dads.

With Selene Xie’s unique positioning as a mother and woman in fashion, she made the much-needed observation that society’s expectations of mums do not allow them to care for themselves and speak on work-family balance.

Selene combined her passion for fashion with her personal ambition of creating a safe-space for mothers, which stands at the core of her purpose-driven luxury fashion brand ‘The Rebel Mums’. Her brand aims to celebrate motherhood in all its forms, by allowing women to feel confident, powerful, and sexy. We spoke to Selene about her venture, how she was inspired to start the brand, and what lessons she’s learned along the way.

Selene Xie on Mum-focused Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums  1

What’s your ‘backstory’? What led you to start The Rebel Mums?

I experienced two pregnancies during the pandemic, and am now a mother of a girl and a boy. From a young age, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer and pursued this passion by studying fashion in San Francisco and New York. However, my post-graduation journey in the fashion industry was not smooth, and I faced a lot of discouragement.

Someone important to me once told me, “There are so many talented designers out there - what makes you special?” This led me to quit fashion and move to Shanghai.

During my first pregnancy, I found the inspiration to create a community for mums to support each other, having experienced unrealistic societal expectations of motherhood. [Negative] comments about my appearance, expectations on how mothers should dress, and the unrealistic 'bounce back postpartum body' are especially present in Hong Kong, which inspired me to design clothes for mums. I wanted to celebrate motherhood and challenge traditional beliefs of how mothers should dress. I want mums to feel sexy, confident, and powerful in my clothing.

My fashion brand, 'The Rebel Mums', is more than a fashion brand. It's a platform for mums to share their stories without judgment and start a new conversation around motherhood.

Selene Xie on Mum-focused Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums  2

What pain point is The Rebel Mums out to solve for mothers?

For centuries, women have been programmed to believe that we have to live up to being the “perfect mother”. Women feel guilty if they are not living up to this unrealistic standard, and it often leads to serious mental and physical health issues, like depression and feelings of inadequacy.

I wanted to use fashion not only to promote stylish looks that any mum can feel like a badass in, but also as a medium to start a conversation that empowers women to break free from societal expectations and live their lives authentically, unapologetically, and with confidence.

The shopping experience I wanted to create at The Rebel Mums is a place free of judgement with clothing that mums will feel beautiful and comfortable in. I want to start a new blank canvas about what motherhood looks like, and let mums define what motherhood means to them. I want the mothers who come to TRM feel like they're part of a community, where they can share their stories freely and not feel alone in their journeys of motherhood.

Selene Xie on Mum-focused Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums  3

Can you share a story about a challenge you made starting The Rebel Mums? What lessons did you take away from this?

The biggest challenge I faced starting The Rebel Mums was to keep building my brand throughout my second pregnancy with a newborn at home. There were a lot of people discouraging me throughout my journey of building The Rebel Mums. Some people made it hard for me to work with them, and even tried to take advantage of how passionate I am with this brand.

One thing I am so proud of, is that I never gave up no matter what situation I was in. I didn’t let any of those discouragements get to me.

I kept pushing through, even up to a few hours before I delivered my second baby, and I am so glad that I did what I did. I want to say that everything is possible if you believe it, and the only person who can ever stop you from success is yourself. So, don’t let yourself get in your way. When you have a goal, be focused, and don’t look any other way!

Selene Xie on Mum-focused Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums  4

Who have been some of your biggest inspirations or mentors? Can you share a time when they made an impact or helped you with the direction of the brand?

The biggest inspiration for me has been my mother.

She is a successful business woman who built her own empire, but had to sacrifice a lot of her time with me during my childhood [to do so]. Society influenced my feelings of abandonment, and I blamed her for not “not doing enough for me”.

Everything finally made sense to me the moment that I became a mother myself. I finally understood how tough it must has been for my mum to sacrifice all that time away from me. I understood how difficult it is to be a mother, and that society's expectation of the “perfect mother” had made it so tough on women.

I have grown so much as a person, as a daughter, and as a mother, through building The Rebel Mums. I’ve gained a whole new perspective about motherhood, and this journey has helped me build a stronger relationship with my mother than ever.

Selene Xie on Mum-focused Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums  5

Can you share three best pieces of advice that you’ve collected throughout your career and why they matter to you.

My first advice is [to] never give up on your dreams. It wasn't easy for me to get it together to graduate and still be able to pursue fashion design during college. Even though my career path after college wasn't so smooth, I still never gave up on my dream of becoming a fashion designer and starting my own brand. 

My second advice is always be humble. It is important to be humble no matter how successful you are. The meaning of happiness can be so simple if you stay humble.

My third advice is keep good energy and good people around you. You would be surprised at how your environment can shape your thoughts and ultimately shape you. I always get so inspired by people and I love hearing peoples’ stories.

Selene Xie on Mum-focused Fashion Brand, The Rebel Mums  6

How are you planning to shake things up next?

I’m planning to invite mums to share their stories online and in person. I want to start building this supportive community for mums in Hong Kong, there are many taboo topics that should be talked about. I will continue to celebrate motherhood with designing more fun and sexy clothes for mums to feel confident, powerful, and beautiful in. I’m looking forward to starting a new conversation about what the meaning of motherhood means with [other] mums.

Shop The Rebel Mums with an exclusive The Beat x The Rebel Mums discount here, and keep up with the brand on their Instagram

Enjoyed this article? Check out our previous Elevator Pitch profiles here.

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