‘Elegantly simple. Effortlessly cool. Ethically sourced,’ Maison de Choup create simple, minimalistic and wearable designs. The brand was founded by the young creative, George David Hodgson.
George has turned his story of anxiety into a positive force for good, by bringing together a unique collective of young artists and designers to build MDC, with the goal to help raise awareness of mental health issues and to help others who are going through it.
Anxiety can strike at any point and there is no doubting that we have all experienced a level of it at some time or another. But what happens when the feelings associated with a passing moment of panic become a daily occurrence in your life, a feeling that you can no longer just shake off? A crippling sense of anxiety that gradually takes over your life? George experienced just that and through his recovery Maison de Choup was born. MDC are working with the charity YoungMinds in order to support other young adults dealing with mental health problems.
The Interview (London) talks to George about his personal experience with anxiety, his advice to anyone suffering as he did and how with the right support and treatment you can turn something negative into something wonderful.
Hi George! Please can you introduce yourself and your brand?
Hi there, I am George David Hodgson - An acute anxiety sufferer and Founder of Maison de Choup. MDC originally started as a small T-Shirt label back in 2014 during some of my darkest days. We began by creating simple anxiety designs. However, after a while MDC started to become something more exciting. A light at the end of the tunnel you could say. As I started my road to recovery I thought we could take this brand and make it something beautiful, something people love to wear, look good and feel great talking about.
Can you tell us about the message behind your brand and what this means to you?
Simple, expressive and optimistic. MDC is all about creating unique designs with a great message. MDC supports other anxiety sufferers who have shared their experiences. We also support the charity YoungMinds by donating 25% of the proceeds from the Words Fail Me Tee to their charity.
The brand has evolved from just you, to a unique collective of young artists and designers. Can you tell us about some of your current collections?
The current collection [monochrome] was inspired by the artwork of Chinese opera faces, using the masks they create different and eclectic expressions. We thought this would be perfect for MDC’s first collection, it’s bold, different and recognisable. We have recently launched our Volpe Bag which is one of my favourite pieces from the collection. As well as the Volpe Bag we have the Volpe Collar Shirt which is a unique piece with our distinctive Monocled Fox logo embroidered on the collar of the bright white shirt. We also have a classic denim shirt and a black shirt. I’m excited to say we are adding more shirts to the denim collection this spring.
And any future ones (if you can reveal!) ?
I can’t reveal much, but I can say for sure that there will be more collections coming soon. The one a lot of people are waiting in excited anticipation for is the MDC Volpe Purse which is an accessory to the MDC Volpe Bag. There is also a new designer shirt on it’s way which I am very excited about, when it will be out, I cannot say. Watch our social media channels for updates.
Was it always a dream of yours to have your own business?
I suppose it has. As both my parents work for themselves, I was always going to want to do the same thing, I’ve always wanted to be my own boss. If I hadn’t started MDC I would have gone on to be a photographer and that again, would be working for myself.
You work closely with the charity YoungMinds. Could you tell us how they have helped you in overcoming your anxiety and how important the work that they do is?
YoungMinds is an amazing charity, helping young sufferers through their darkest times and always being there for support. I started receiving help back in 2014, when my parents, who were lucky enough to be in a position to send me privately to see a Psychiatrist. It was his job to find the cause of all my anxieties and work on me getting used to having anxiety, using the technique hypnotherapy. After a year of seeing Dr S [psychiatrist] he referred me to a CBT Therapist who would later teach me about anxiety coping mechanisms and how to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. It was he who brought my attention to charities helping people with anxiety and depression and I thought it would be great to giveback to one that helps other young people suffering that aren't in a position to go privately. YoungMinds is a resource for myself and millions of other sufferers to go when they are in need of help, I have luckily now recovered from my anxiety and can cope, but I want to remain supporting YoungMinds and their great work. To do this, we are donating 25% of the proceeds from the Words Fail Me Tee to YoungMinds, we hope to increase the anxiety collection later in the year and also donate the proceeds from these products to YoungMinds as well.
Can you tell us a bit more about the necessity there is for a greater awareness in mental health issues and how your brand is inspiring this change?
Mental Health is a huge problem in this country and there is still an underlying stigma around it. I think if people were more open about their mental health illness and anxieties, the stigma would start to subside. It is improving slowly with mental health week and more celebrities opening up. My vision is for MDC to become synonymous with this message and help spread more awareness because we all suffer from anxieties. Lets talk about them.
Could you tell us about the values your brand stands for?
One of MDC tagline’ is ‘Elegantly simple. Effortlessly cool. Ethically sourced’ which sums up the brands clothing quality and the other is ‘Born Out of Anxiety’ this sums up what MDC is about. I wanted to create something beautiful, accessible to everyone and not prohibitively expensive. Something everyone can wear and look good in. Knowing the ethics of the brand are all sound and the quality remaining high. Combining this with the message about anxiety we have created a brand that is available to all, fashionistas, bloggers, anxiety and depression suffers, people from all walks of life.
You have some beautiful designs and branding. Could you take us through the creative process in finalising the brand image of Maison de Choup?
Finding the brand image for MDC took a while. Finding something I loved and would be proud of wearing took a lot of designs ending up on the cutting room floor. But having my father as a graphic designer and Co-Founder of the company, together we worked through many ideas for T-Shirt designs. Once we had a firm direction we wanted to move in for T-Shirt designs we decided to research into a designer who had experience within the fashion industry. We found someone who loved my vision and had the same ethos. She also wanted to help the business flourish. So we now have an amazing design consultant. However, I always loved our Monocled Fox logo and wanted it to remain somehow attached to the brand, so my father and I worked for a while to make the Monocled Fox perfect for clothing, this meant making it work embroidered into clothing and looking graphically beautiful at the same time.
Are there any artists or designers that particularly inspire your work?
I have many, the list could go on for days! Although the three that inspire me most are Tim Walker, Maison Martin Margiela and Tom Ford. Tim Walker’s eccentric photography creates wondrous images which are almost majestic, every time I’m taking a photograph I think to myself ‘how would Walker do this’ and Maison Margiela’s and Ford’s clothes are just beautiful! Minimalist, opulent and elegant! I love them. I think if I had the money, my wardrobe would be full of just these two iconic brands!
Do you have a role model?
My parents. They are amazing, they have helped me through some of the darkest periods of my life and are always there for me, they never doubted me once about conquering my anxiety and always believed in me. MDC has grown and we have all grown with it, there have been difficult times through creating the brand but the words ‘give up’ have never been said, it’s always been ‘we will get through this’ and with that bit of motivation every now and then, I grow ever more determined. My father is an exceptional graphic designer, something I could never get close to matching and I am in awe of him. My mother is someone I can trust and talk to about everything, for advice on what to do next and how to deal with certain situations. Without my parents, the recovery and starting MDC would have been a lot more difficult.
Where would you like to see Maison de Choup in five years time?
MDC has become a brand synonymous with both anxiety and simple, wonderful designs. We have a number of new designs and products launching later in the year and I am very excited to see the response they get. In 5 years time I want the brand to become more widely known for it’s message and something people love wearing, not only for the beautiful designs we create but for the message behind the brand. Born out of Anxiety.
What advice could you offer to others who have experienced anxiety to help them overcome it and do something as inspiring as you have done?
Keep moving. Have a project which you can focus on, I believe anxiety is all too much about self absorption. You become so focused on yourself and forget the world in which you are living. If you create a project which you can draw your attention too, you will slowly but surely start forgetting about your anxieties and become involved with your project. My project was MDC, it was a difficult start because I had a panic attack every so often, but I persisted and bounced back from these making me even more focused to create something and overcome my anxiety.