The De Geyters attribute their quick success to this kind of instinctual approach to design. They work side by side, with only one other employee, in their new, white-washed studio space (everything is white in the new atelier so that the clothes “really pop,” Bernadette says). “We’ve always been super close as a mom and daughter, and as friends,” Charlotte says. “But now we are business partners, and over the last 12 months, I think we’ve really learned how to work well with one another in this setting. We know what each of our strengths are.”
When starting a collection, Charlotte and Bernadette do their own research and create mood boards separately. They sketch out a few ideas and then come together to mix and match and meld their concepts together as one. “My mom had never sketched before,” Charlotte said with a laugh. “I taught her how to draw!” While Charlotte’s designs tend to focus on a younger clientele with slinkier silhouettes and fabrics, Bernadette appeals to a woman her own age, someone who’d rather wear a striking kimono dress than a slip.
For a brand that launched itself off of a single concept—the floral-print silk dress—Bernadette certainly has the potential to continue to expand, even beyond bags and new silhouettes. That’s hard to do in this market, when the competition for niche fashion labels is immense and more and more brands are popping up online and on social media every day. But another thing that sets Bernadette apart is their mother-daughter dynamic and their unwavering support and encouragement of one another. They’ll have to grow a team soon, in order to keep up with production demands and their sellout rate on sites like Moda Operandi and Net-a-Porter. But for now, the De Geyters are content working as a two-woman team. “We’re not very scared of having a lot of work,” Charlotte says. “We like being hands-on and we like to do it all ourselves. But we know we do need a bit of help because everything is moving so quickly. We have a huge space now in Antwerp, so we’re very excited to build a family here.”