Madeleine Chard, Avalon NSW
Images by Sam Riles
Madeleine Chard has just launched her business, Female Form, a minimalist organic maternity, underwear and essentials brand made here in Australia. She lives in a beautiful, bright home in Avalon with her fiancé Jake Bulgin, who is a Brand manager for a mens clothing label, her 4 year old daughter Olive, “our CEO” Madeleine adds, and their rescue dog Daphne “who has recently had a bad haircut”.
“Our home is an original 1950s brick beach house 2 minutes walk to Avalon Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. My parents own the house and it sits on a large north facing block with a separate granny flat up the back where my parents live. We are lucky enough to live in the “front house” where we get to enjoy the beautiful lush gardens my mum lovingly planted herself (I did not inherit her green thumb) from either in the yard itself or looking out from the oversized windows in the main bedroom, the large sun drenched deck where Olive spends hours painting her masterpieces underneath the big old frangipani trees and my personal favourite – the pink bathtub. Can’t complain about the inbuilt babysitters either! “
“The house has a quaint, homely feel with white painted floors and walls working as a blank canvas for our eclectic furniture and bright pops of colour. Almost everything in our home is second hand as I love (have an addiction to) collecting unique furniture and objects. The airy sunroom at the front of the house is a bit of favourite working as a home office and studio for all my creative projects as well as a bit of a play / chill out room. My style is always evolving so things don’t stay the same for too long around here – change is as good as a holiday right?”
“Avalon is a small mostly quiet town with a great sense of community. It’s the kind of place where a quick trip to the local supermarket is practically impossible as you are bound to bump into someone you know and leave an hour later after a “quick” chat, and if you’re like me, without what you actually went there for in the first place.
We love Hungry Ghost café. It’s a hole in the wall down a little lane way and they do the best turmeric chai and authentic jaffles – the Reuben is my go to! We usually follow this with some wave watching up at South Avalon Headland, maybe a browse at the local op shop or our favourite boutique Knap Store in Newport. I am a major home body so we spend a lot of time pottering around at home. For dinner options we love Cranzgots Pizza in Careel Bay, takeaway fish tacos from the local fish shop (eating them watching the sunset at Clareville Beach should be compulsory), Mexican and Marguerites from Alma, Sunset Diner for classic burgers and hotdogs, or the French if you’re feeling fancy and want the steak of your life. Can you tell I love food?”
“The concept of Female Form is more than just comfy undies. I started this project during my challenging stint as a young single mum, which in hindsight has only made me stronger and more resilient. However I did experience a bit of an identity crisis during this time and I feel a lot of this was due to brands and well society in general depicting an unrealistic, unrelatable and outdated image of motherhood. My main goal is to empower and inspire women to stay true to who they are, to stand out and feel confident in their own skin. The brand gives me an outlet to do just that, and although it began with motherhood in mind, it’s about celebrating the strength and fragility of womanhood and all its forms.”
“At the moment I am really focused on my new business so I am absorbed in all things to do with that. One area in particular I am learning more about is the design/ production side of things. The whole process has definitely been a steep learning curve, in particular manufacturing locally and sustainably - but hey, so worth it! I definitely have an inbuilt passion for design that I have been slowly unlocking and educating myself on. I think it’s important to be challenged and to surround yourself with like-minded, knowledgeable people and mentors who inspire you. I have learnt so much already!”
“One thing we have been working on is living with less - not over spending, buying wisely and consciously. Although we buy primarily second hand, I (actually Jake) found we were over consuming and have been working really hard to decrease this and only invest in things we truly need and that “spark joy!”. I am a former hoarder in remission! Having lots of ‘stuff’ makes your life cluttered both physically and mentally and have found since cutting back and decluttering that I’m feeling a lot lighter! The key is to Invest in good quality products you truly love that will last.”
I am a former hoarder in remission! Having lots of ‘stuff’ makes your life cluttered both physically and mentally and have found since cutting back and decluttering that I’m feeling a lot lighter!
“Living sustainably is much more than just a physical way of being for me. I am a hard core perfectionist at heart so the pressure and unrealistic standards I put on myself are not sustainable and leave me feeling anxious and deflated. “Progress over perfection” is my new moto courtesy of Jake, and I have found this is a much healthier way of approaching things, whether that be in work or every day life. Work life balance is also an ongoing struggle for me. I need a creative outlet and work is that for me – I love it! So much so that I find it hard to switch off. Being “on” all the time is exhausting and not sustainable. Setting personal boundaries is super important for me so I can try to be present in every moment. These simple things enable a much more consistent and sustainable way to live in mind, body and soul.”
Progress over perfection
“One area in particular I am learning more about is the design/ production side of things. I haven’t studied in this area (well besides that one time I dropped out of Interior Design College as I felt I wasn’t learning and refused to feel ‘uninspired’ a minute longer.) This whole process however, has definitely been a steep learning curve, in particular manufacturing locally and sustainably - but hey, so worth it! I definitely have an inbuilt passion for design that I have been slowly unlocking and educating myself on. I think it’s important to be challenged and to surround yourself with like-minded, knowledgeable people and mentors who inspire you.”
“I have also been refreshing my memory on all things motherhood as I am due with my second child in just a couple of weeks! Motherhood is definitely an area where I am constantly learning and growing. The minute I think to myself “I’ve got this” it all changes. I have just ordered “The First Forty Days” book which is all about nourishing the new mother which I am really excited to read.”
“I am really looking forward to this Summer and spending it at home with my little family – especially with our new addition! Life has been quite hectic getting the business going while pregnant so just slowing down and enjoying the little things like brekky in bed (nothing beats Jake’s avo and eggs on toast – I’m a lucky woman!), looking for crabs with Olive at the rock pools and lazy afternoon movie sessions at home.”
“I feel like we have been preparing for the queen, the nesting has been real. Also just trying to be as organized as possible with the business side of things in an effort to make my life a little easier once I have a newborn demanding to be fed every 5 minutes and party all night. But most importantly just laughing through the chaos and enjoying every moment on this journey with the people I love. Can’t wait to see what’s in store…the best is yet to come!”