A lifetime of love

“Wow, it can’t get better than this,” Marije Braber (39) sometimes thinks out loud. She’s been working on her own children’s clothing line, Lovely Lane for a year now; and hugely enjoys being a mother of two. Does she think she made the right choices by coincidence? ‘I never just start. There’s always a plan’. (Read the interview below)

Photography Liselore Chevalier Words Stephanie Pander Styling Valerie van der Werff

We’re sitting together at her meters-long dining table in a bright corner building in the Amsterdam Plantage neighbourhood, famous for its stately houses and greenery. The room is brimming with vintage treasures, each obviously handpicked by their owner and all of them contributing to a house full stories, neutral colours and soft shapes. Marije: ‘I’m sensitive to my environment. Even my car has cream seats — I couldn’t be sitting on something black.’ Her kitchen and living room flow into one another seamlessly, the latter of which holds a shabby leather sofa. ‘A Canadian design from 1973. When I look at it I can smell the forest and hear Bob Dylan.’

‘I’m sensitive to my environment. Even my car has cream seats — I couldn’t be sitting on something black’

In another corner stand racks filled with colourful children’s clothing. The first collection of Lovely Lane, one inspired by her own youth. ‘At home I remember the sounds of Simon & Garfunkel coming from the green camper van in the yard as my father worked on it over the summer. In my memory, the sun is shining and we’d eat strawberries on bread every day.’ Today the music playing is Frazey Ford. Indian Ocean. A soft mix of country and 70s. Marije: ‘This sound is our house. And this house is my world, every inch of it. I’d be happy here for days without ever having to leave.’

What might at first seem an accidental conglomeration is, in reality, a carefully thought out concept. Everything has been thought out. Each individual item has been carefully selected. This is where the real Marije Braber shines through: ‘I never just start. There’s always a plan. I feel safe playing around within the straight lines. I like that sense of control.’
Even at 23 when Marije started as a TV producer she had a plan. ‘I was ambitious but not in the traditional way. I didn’t want to be the boss or earn a lot of money. I wanted to try all types of programmes until I found the best ones. So if there would be a  programme with the biggest budget and the best chances, that’s what I’d pick!’

‘And then love came tumbling my way and I’ll never forget it’

‘Later, after I moved from television to advertising, I had the same drive. Bring on Heineken the commercials! Before I knew it, I was doing things I never thought I could. Really, if there’s one feature I lack then it’s self-confidence. From the outside I looked as if I was in control but on the inside I was so nervous. I was constantly struggling with my fears thinking, ‘Am I really going to do this?! Oh my god I’m doing it!’ Marije worked hard. Perhaps a little too hard: ‘I overtook myself.’ So she left her work to start her own business at her own pace. ‘I consciously tried to make my world smaller. Instead of looking out, I started focussing on the inside. I walked a lot — I’d walk the whole city. There isn’t a canal in Amsterdam I don’t know, that I haven’t seen. And then love came tumbling my way and I’ll never forget it. It’s something I’ll never take for granted. Love is such an important source of inspiration for everything I do.’
From this new organised emptiness and calm came new ideas. After the birth of her first son Eden (4), Marije took up sewing lessons. ‘It struck me that we dress children as miniature adults. The fabrics are often too thick and stiff, don’t fit comfortably and the designs and colours are just too serious. Hence my idea to recreate the colourful, happy clothes that I wore myself as a child. I had the designs produced at a company in Amsterdam-Noord and started on a small scale. Lovely Lane clothing is all about warmth and love, and I hope can parents feel that when they put the clothes on their children.’

She left her work to start her own business at her own pace. ‘I consciously tried to make my world smaller’

Marije finds inspiration in her own happy childhood, the colours of the ’70s and in music. ‘Especially love songs! I like them soft and gooey.’ But she also looks to people that radiate a sense of peace of mind and wisdom. ‘I recently heard an elderly lady say that she regretted not living in the moment more often. She’s right: now is the only thing that counts! Too bad that these insights so often only come with age. It’s hard to remember it in the now.’
But Marije is getting better at it and is learning to just be. ‘It helps me to know what I need and want at any given time. It helps me answer all kinds of questions, like who do I want to be, what should I do next or even what do I want to eat. And I really feel like I’m in the best place on Earth — and that gives me confidence. Of course I don’t live on a pink cloud all day. I have Riven now (8 months) and before that I hardly slept in five years. I’m sometimes tired, like all young mothers of course. But I always try to remember to enjoy every day of the fairy tale that is my life.’

Photography Liselore Chevalier
Styling Valerie van der Werff
Words Stephanie Pander

See the collection of Marije Braber on www.lovelylane.nl.

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