Moms Who Inspire: Designer Laura O’Dell

April 20, 2017

When Laura O’Dell began selling hand-dyed t-shirts in 2001, her DIY label was little more than a side project. Sixteen years later, the designer has come a long way. Along with her husband, Jason, she transformed her one-time hobby into The Odells, a full-scale lifestyle brand and beloved Los Angeles boutique renowned for its quirky-cool West Coast sensibility.

But that’s not all that’s changed over the years. As she built her business, Laura became a mother to Shaun, a 6-year-old “Star Wars” fan and foodie, and Layla, her 4-year-old snowboarding daredevil.

With Mother’s Day around the corner—and baby No. 3 on the way!—we caught up with Laura at her sunny Silverlake home to talk motherhood, entrepreneurship and balancing it all.

You have a lot on your plate these days! Did having children change the way you approach your business?

Having kids definitely changed the way I work. There’s no time now for lollygagging and taking weeks to come up with a design concept. My time is precious, so I make decisions quickly—once I finalize a collection I very rarely change my mind or design direction. The adjustment was hard, but nothing brings me more joy than being able to pick my kids up from school, help with homework and get dinner started at a reasonable hour. I love what I do creatively, but being a mom is by far my biggest life accomplishment.

Do you draw inspiration from your experience as a mother?
Everything I design I wear—I would never include a style that wouldn’t work for my own personal lifestyle. My style has a casual sensibility to it, but I also like to dress up at night, which is why I design with versatility in mind. I can be wearing one of our dresses with sneakers in the afternoon and transition that same dress to evening by adding more jewelry and some killer Rachel Comey shoes.

Do you think your children will follow in their parents’ creative footsteps?
Shaun has become an excellent illustrator and Layla loves working with paint! As of recently, I asked both kids what Jason and I “do” for a living—it was cute to hear them say that I’m a designer. I think it makes them proud to know that their mama is a hard worker, but also creative.

How do the O’Dells celebrate Mother’s Day?
I write a list of my “wants” on a piece of paper and stick it in a visible spot in the kitchen a few days before. It usually includes “a long run,” but this year since I’m pregnant it might not be as long. Also, “dinner cooked by someone other than me” as a hint to Jason, and perhaps a massage.

Shop the collection: see new arrivals from The Odells.

Make Mother’s Day: very special Mother’s Day gifts