in conversation with: sara crampton
Sara Crampton (née Donaldsdon), founder of online store The UNDONE and renowned style blog and Instagram Harper & Harley, has long been known for her thoughtful, minimalist approach to fashion, beauty and lifestyle. Speaking to nuage., Sara talks us through her journey as a first-time mother, her recent childbirth experience, as well as her go-to essentials for mother and baby.
You gave birth late last year to your son, William. Tell us what the parenthood journey has been like so far for you and your husband.
“It’s been surreal. As Will is our first baby, we have nothing to compare it to, so I’m actually not too sure how different our life would have been – as I’ve been told that the first year of parenthood can feel quite similar to the lockdown restrictions we’ve all experienced. But our journey thus far has been ever changing. He's now just about ten months old, and each stage is so different from the last. Each has their own challenges, as well as their beautiful and special moments. I’m just trying to appreciate everything and live in the moment.”
You run a successful online store, The UNDONE, which you continued to run throughout your entire pregnancy and post-birth. How have you tried to maintain your work/life balance since becoming a mother?
“This juggle is a big one for me. What I try to keep in mind is that it’s impossible to do both at the same time – I need to be in ‘100 percent mum’ or ‘100 percent work’ mode to do a good job at either of these roles, rather than try to be both at the same time and feel like I’m failing at both. Luckily, I have a fantastic team at The UNDONE who can keep the store running while I’m wearing my other hat. My family is across the border in Queensland and my husband's parents also don’t live in Sydney. As someone who has been so independent and would just do it all myself, I’ve learnt to accept the help whenever it’s offered.”
The UNDONE is a curation of high-quality, minimal pieces designed to wear for years to come. How does this ethos translate to your home?
“As we’re now in our forever home (or for at least the next ten years), I'm making sure that what we purchase for our home is thoughtful and has a ‘do it once, do it well’ mentality. There is a saying that my husband loves to use, ‘it takes a very rich man to buy cheap tools’, and it can be applied to everything. If you buy a quick, cheap and trendy option, it’s very likely that it will break and need replacing sooner, or it will go out of style. If you buy the better-quality, neutral and classic alternative, it's likely you will save money in the long run.”
How has your personal style evolved since becoming a mother?
“I definitely saw my personal style get put on pause. I do have to dress for my son, especially so in the earlier months when we were breastfeeding and my body was a different shape than what I was used to. Now it's slowly coming back together – I can fit into more of my old clothes and I'm feeling a lot more like myself again.”
Which particular pieces or labels have you reached for the most, both post-childbirth and during your pregnancy?
"I absolutely lived in linen sets during the early months. During my pregnancy, I loved wearing stretchy knit dresses that hugged my bump. At The UNDONE, we carry some beautiful ones by Anna Quan and Marle, which you can wear post-baby as well.”
What are your go-to childrens’ brands?
“I’ve got Will in a white, sage green, khaki, navy and grey colour palette…I couldn’t help myself! It makes dressing him so easy, as all his cute little things all work with each other. We love Pure Baby and Nature Baby, especially in the early days with all their onesies. Susukoshi is a big favourite, as well as Millk and Mini Marley.”
Which essentials can you not leave the house without?
“It depends on whether I'm with Will or not. For me, I don't need much at all – a face mask, hand sanitiser, keys, phone and sunglasses will do – oh and my wallet, which I always forget!”
What was the childbirth experience like for you?
“I am so thankful that I actually had a beautiful birth experience. I did so much research and preparation going in, as it's such an unknown experience and I like to feel prepared. I listened to what felt like hundreds of birth story podcasts (positive only), attended the hospital classes, and read a book that I resonated with. But I also knew that I had to go in with an open mind, knowing that my body and my baby were going to determine what happened. I’m not someone that needed to prove to myself that I could do the birth all natural, however I’m so in awe of those women that do. Instead, I put my hand up for an epidural and it was the best decision for me. I could be entirely present and at ease to appreciate the experience of meeting my baby for the first time.”
How has motherhood changed your life and worldview?
“Since becoming a mum, my entire life has changed. I have had to mourn my previous life as it will never be the same, and have had to embrace the new one that we have. Since having Will the world has also changed, so it’s been a big adjustment, and at times an emotional rollercoaster. I’m thankful for my support network and am determined to pass on the support to those around me, as I know how much of an impact just simply checking in on a new mum can be.”
What do you wish people discussed more when it comes to childbirth and/or motherhood?
“For me, it was the breastfeeding and the changes in this area of the body to make breastfeeding work that was shocking for me. I kept hearing that it was ‘hard’, but I wish I knew that there was also a fair bit of pain involved. Thankfully I had some girlfriends to reach out to, and just hearing that every week it will get better and soon it wouldn’t hurt at all gave me hope and determination to push through. If you’re reading this and in the thick of it – it’s only going to get better!”
Are there any perceptions about motherhood that you’d like to change?
“The gender imbalance is quite confronting when you step into motherhood. We’re so independent prior to childbirth, and then as women we have to give up everything; our bodies, minds, careers and personal life to look after our babies. I feel as though the government needs to step up and support women more so we can work if we choose to, or simply take a break, without the financial obstacles that the current childcare system puts in place. We’ll never be able to feel equal and have women occupy 50 percent of corporate structures if this isn’t rectified.”
What wisdom or life advice would you like to pass on to your son?
“I just want him to be happy, and to be a kind and empathetic person.”
Finally, what advice would you give to new or soon-to-be parents?
“Make sure you build your support network. I was so lucky to have a girlfriend who had a little boy seven weeks after me, and it’s been such an important relationship for me to have someone to talk to about mum life. And even though you’re looking after a little baby and it may feel like their needs come first, you need to make sure you’re okay personally. Just like the safety procedures on an aeroplane, you need to make sure you put on your oxygen mask first to give you the ability to look after others.”
by hannah paul