From Harper
By Athena Raypold

A Born Stylist

At 10-years-old, Zoe McRorie, the designer behind From Harper, dreamed of being a fashion designer –literally. “I would have dreams and then I’d be like, ‘I want to make this.’ [My mom would take me] to the store, I’d find a pattern that was close to what I wanted, I’d spend the time picking out the fabric, and I’d get so excited,” she says. But 10 year-old Zoe would arrive home to make her dress, only to discover that it was more work than she was willing to take on. Fast forward six years and Zoe asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. She didn’t actually touch that machine until years later, but it’s the very same machine she uses today to sew her children’s fashions.

In high school, Zoe always dressed differently from her peers. She wasn’t interested in following trends; she wanted to make trends. “I thought I looked great,” she says. “These were conscious fashion choices that I was making. I once wore a pendant hooked to a hoop earring like a pirate; I thought it was cool and different. I marched to the beat of my own drum.” Because of Zoe’s natural inclination towards trend-setting and originality, she worked as an intern, and then a fashion stylist for Mode Models for four years before finding her way to building From Harper.

As a stylist, Zoe would interpret a photographer’s vibe or theme and then dress the models. To build her portfolio, Zoe would thrift because high-end stores weren’t familiar with her work. Once she was known, she would pull clothes from stores like gravitypope. “It was a lot of work and responsibility having tens of thousands of dollars of clothing in my trunk,” she says.

If your child is skinny, but tall, I’m willing to work with you to fit your child. You can’t get that from a big box store. - Zoe McRorie, fashion designer and owner
From Harper owner Zoe McRorie has been sewing clothes and handmaking things since she was a young girl
Photo by Zoe McRorie
From Harper came to life once the owner's daughter was born, and became her muse for her children's clothing designs
Photo by Zoe McRorie

Discovering her Muse

When Zoe became pregnant with her daughter, Harper, she discovered her passion for designing and sewing clothes for children. “I’ve always wanted to be a mom,” she says. “I want to make things for Harper. I remember my mom making things and I want to emulate those happy memories in how I choose to parent.” In addition to sewing clothes for Zoe and her sister, Zoe’s mother was always creative with her kids. “My friends would come over and we’d make purses out of jean pockets,” says Zoe. “It hasn’t always been sewing, necessarily, but craft projects were good therapy for me.”

Between the meditative and restorative aspects of throwing herself into her craft and the sense of achievement and pride she gets from dressing her daughter, From Harper feeds Zoe’s soul. It’s a creative endeavour that gives her an identity outside of wife and mother. Ultimately, it’s what makes Zoe, Zoe.

From Harper creates unique clothing for children, both boys and girls, plus unisex or gender neutral children's clothing
Photo by Zoe McRorie
From Harper creates and sews children's clothing from her home, from her own designs
Photo by Zoe McRorie

Local, Fashionable Designs that Grow with Your Child

Being a mom is central to Zoe’s life – Harper is her muse, after all – but, first and foremost, Zoe is a fashion designer. For From Harper’s clothing line, Zoe “draws inspiration from vintage bohemian. Sometimes that means vintage fabrics, sometimes that means vintage pattern, other times, the [items I am] making are neither vintage nor bohemian,” she says.

Zoe has always had an eye for fashion, she looks at Vogue and runway shows, but she’s never catered her style, or her designs, to what is trending. As for children’s apparel, Zoe stays away from cutesy or cartoony prints, preferring gender-neutral patterns and designs. Part of that stems from her theory that children are evolving little people. “I am still learning who Harper is,” she says. “So to always dress her up in frou frou frilly stuff, when that’s not who she is as a person, what’s the point of that? Why not try something that she would be more comfortable in?”

From Harper designs are created for longevity. Zoe intentionally designs clothing that can grow with your child so that the price per wear is low; the value being that you don’t have to buy 10 pairs of pants when two quality pairs will last a child six months of wear. She also makes conscious decisions to purchase fabrics from local vendors, supporting other moms and creative entrepreneurs. “I try to keep the dollar here,” she says. “I am a local, small business that supports other local small businesses.” Zoe will also work with parents to custom make From Harper designs that fit your unique child. “If your child is skinny, but tall, I’m willing to work with you to fit your child. You can’t get that from a big box store.”

From Harper is a line of children's clothing inspired by the designer's daughter, Harper
Photo by Zoe McRorie
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