Designer • 3 Children • Munich, Germany
Meet our muse in Munich: Isabelle is a mother of 3 and just launched her own kidswear label, Merci Marie. Her family lives in a cozy old farmhouse - which perfectly reflects their classic yet relaxed style.
Hi Isabelle, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
Isabelle: I’m from Bavaria and my husband Martin is Swiss. We met in Berlin, lived together in Düsseldorf and then found our home in Munich. Our son Laurenz is 6, Felipa is 2 and just this February, Theodor was born. We’re generally a relaxed and happy family - with the usual daily challenges!
Theo just turned 6 months old. How was the change from 2 to 3 children for you?
Isabelle: Surprisingly easy. Theo is the most relaxed baby of all and Laurenz and Pipa love him very much. Going from one child to two was the harder transition.
You recently started your own kidswear label Merci Marie Day and Nightwear. What were the reasons behind your decision?
Isabelle: I worked as a designer for 12 years for different companies. Designing for my own label was my dream since I started working. I think as a mother you have to be open-minded and able to adjust. That’s how I got my inspiration and the incentive to start my own business.
What inspires you?
Isabelle: Most of my ideas are derived from short trips away—just me and my sketchbook. I find these mini-breaks create space for new thoughts and I love to observe different things and situations. Afterwards, I feel restored and inspired.
How do you organize your daily life – how do you find time to work and time for yourself?
Isabelle: I usually work before midday. We have an au-pair and she takes care of Theo at that time. The afternoon belongs to the kids—that´s essential for me. Time for myself is super-rare because I’m juggling the baby’s daily routine and activities with my eldest. I think it’s a real privilege to reconcile work and motherhood— I wouldn’t want it any other way.
How would you describe your home?
Isabelle: We live in a former farmhouse built in 1872. For my husband and me, it was love at first sight. It tells it´s own story with the old wooden floor and beams. I love the idea that many families lived in this house ahead of us—it radiates a special, peaceful aura.
What do you love about Munich?
Isabelle: We love the vicinity—from the Alps to the abundance of nature. As we say in Bavaria: “Munich is the biggest village in Germany”. Munich has a special charisma and a feeling of coziness.
For a family visiting Munich and its area for a few days, what would you recommend them to see and do?
Isabelle: Start with a morning coffee in the Café Schneewittchen in the Glockenbach district, while your kids are enjoying the playground across the street.
The English Garden is the perfect place to have a relaxed afternoon with kids. They can feed the ducks, or watch the surfers on the currents of the river “Eisbach”.
It’s also worth paying a visit to Munich’s zoo, "Tierpark Hellabrunn". It is a fun outing for the whole family. The park is more a nature preserve than a traditional zoo.
For rainy days, Deutsches Museum is the perfect place to explore the world’s largest science and technology museum. There’s enough stuff here to keep kids busy for days.
What are your favorite local spots for some time without the children?
Isabelle: If we have the time we love to go out for dinner in Munich, especially the Vietnamese Cuisine—“Charlies” or “Koriander too” are two favorites. I also like the mediteranian restaurant “Buffet Kull” and the Italian food from “La Stanza”.
You have also lived several years in Berlin where you studied fashion-design. Do you think that Munich is very different from Berlin?
Isabelle: Berlin is totally different to Munich. Berlin is constantly changing, always new and therefore very inspiring. It’s like a little island in Germany, particularly for creative people. “Poor, but sexy”, Berliners say about themselves…In comparison, Munich is much more achievement-oriented. It´s very expensive to live here, so money plays an important role. The people in Munich are more established.
Do you think Munich has a specific kids-style?
Isabelle: A lot of people in Munich love brands and high fashion. Kids are often very well dressed. But there are also parents who dress their children casually and comfortably. Some manage both – simple, comfortable and well dressed, like the style here on Over the Ocean. ;-)
What is important for you when choosing clothes for your children? Do you have some favorite brands?
Isabelle: I like timeless clothes for children, not too loud or “funny” or “glittery”. They also definitely need to be comfortable. For us it's important to get them on and off easily - sounds simple but it is important! I really like the Spanish brand Búho. Their clothes are so soft—the fabrics are amazing and the colors and cuts too. I also love Marie Morenz, a small Munich based label. Her styles are classical, timeless pieces in great quality. You can hand them down for years. Theo wears a lot of Petit Bateau, I think for babies it is the best – and I still had some pieces from Pipa and even Laurenz. But our favorite piece for Theo were the silk-cashmere strappants from Minimalisma which we received as a newborn gift, so soft and comfortabel, the quality is just amazing!
Your husband is from Switzerland. Are there any cultural differences in parenting styles that you have experienced?
Isabelle: It’s not exactly cultural, but Martin also grew up in a family of 5, with one brother and one sister, at a farm near Bern. I guess that’s why he´s sometimes a little bit more relaxed in certain situations with the kids because he knows these situations from his own childhood. Also, since he’s from Switzerland, he loves cheese and so do the kids. I am excited that Theo will follow this Swiss tendency ;-)
Is there any other place in the world you could imagine living?
Isabelle: I can imagine living anywhere for a certain time. We lived in several cities before we became a family and I always enjoyed discovering new areas and their people. But in the end my heart will always lead me back to Bavaria. I have my roots here, my friends and my family.
Thank you Isabelle!
Isabelle’s curation for Over The Ocean: Búho, Marie Morenz, Minimalisma, Wooden Story, Petit Bateau, Atelier Fischer!
Pipa, Laurenz and Theo wear outfits from Over The Ocean.
Isabelle wears the women blouse from LPC
Photos by Birgit Sfat