Maiike is an eclectic collection ‘soft things’ for tiny people, made by Aly Peel. Each hand made piece a had character of it’s own, from toys, pillows, quilts and scarves, and every one made from recycled and restored vintage knitwear collected by Aly herself. Maiike now has a home at 54 Church st, Hawthorn.

It was fitting that a on such a cold night as last Friday, Maiike opened it’s nice warm doors to celebrate the opening of the labels first retail shop.

A joint venture between Aly Peel and Feride Peel, the store itself is warm, inviting and beautiful to cosy up in.  Cleverly put together from an empty shell (in a whirlwind matter of months) and carrying on the unique theme of the brand. From floorboards that were pulled from a tired old house, to recycled furniture and mismatched ornaments. It’s the type of place where everything has tactile appeal- the toys lined up like soldiers in the window, to the funky little rompers and even adult sized wears- and an abundance of small children adorning the floor space (not a permanent fixture).

So Almendra and Meg grabbed a wine and a mini banana and sat down to chat with Aly about the experience..

Megan Hutchens: Maiike has been around for quite a few years now. How does todays Maiike compare with the Maiike back in 1999?

Aly Peel: Maiike is like an extension of me in a way.  It’s changed as I have.  Had different partnerships and friends and moved on.  We were very young/green when we started.  We (Mick and I) didn’t know anything at all.  We didn’t use fabric wholesalers or know about stock service.  We learnt it all as we went along.  We were also both in full-time jobs so it was all after hours.  Now Maiike is a little more mature, softer and fluffier, just like me..and it knows who it’s best friends and allies are.  There are still a lot of financial risks that get taken and don’t always seem to pay off but you never stop learning.

MH:Tell us about the store. Why here? And why now?

AP: MAIIKEstore came about both suddenly and slowly.  I’ve been cruising the realestate sites for a couple of years with a real focus on the north/north-west, then one day I forgot to type in the location and this little store in Hawthorn came up on the top of the list.  It’s fate I think, and it was all decided over one weekend!  MAIIKEstore is a family affair.  Both of my sister-in-laws are involved.  All our parents and relatives help to renovate the site.  Lots of love and engery has gone into it.  Mick even learnt to use the lazer cutter at RMIT to make our brilliant plywood sign.

MH: We heard some snippets of stories on Friday night about the experiences you and Feride had whilst getting creative with the design of Maiike. Are there any in particular that stand out for you?

AP: HHmm, tough question.  We were at the store most weekends for 3 months renovating and there were some people who came to the opening who thought they’d never met me before….because I wasn’t wearing my flannelette shirt and beanie!
Feride and I don’t agree on everything but it always works out!…can’t imagine what people were saying!
 MH: What is your favorite part of the store?

AP: I love sitting behind the counter actually and looking out all the windows! Also the make-shift clothing hanging rack that looks like it was mean to be!  Feride is a whiz!
 MH: Any future plans for Maiike at the moment?

AP: I’m still coming to terms with how it’s all going to work running a wholesale and a retail business.  I don’t want to go back into clothing…but I can’t help myself.  A few beautiful Belgian linen pieces coming out for summer!  I want my clothing to be slow though.  I want to perfect things rather than rush to the next season.  It’s not an easy thing to do because you don’t want to bore people/buyers but at the same time I want to be know as a brand that offers longevity and can be relied on to stay consistent.

Maiike is a must see for all of us on level 10, so head down to Hawthorn, grab a coffee on your way for Feride if it’s before noon, and check out this amazing space. P.S. Don’t’ be surprised by a possible inner-child awakening when you find yourself walking out with a soft little souvenir of your own.

Words: Meg Hutchens



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