Dressing Brittany Anna Rose's darling daughter Madison since babyhood, we have built a special relationship with the family. We were thus deeply honored when Brittany invited us to feature on her fashion journal where she frequently interviews inspiring mothers and entrepreneurs.

Discover all about the brand's history, values, inspirations and learn more about our team.

Charlotte sy Dimby inspiring women entrepreneurs children fashion

1. Please tell me a little bit about your brand. When was the brand created and what inspired you to create beautiful girls dresses?

Our brand Charlotte sy Dimby is a hymn to the beauty of childhood. Through French style handmade traditional smocked and embroidered dresses, our wish is to make little girls feel utterly unique and special.

All our collections, created in highly limited edition, are designed by our founder and stylist. Aged 76 and fondly nicknamed “Queen of Smocks”, Monique Ramahay is behind each and every piece which is then lovingly crafted with the help of our skilled team members who are like family to us!

Monique Ramahay fashion designer

Sybille, known as Charlotte, takes care of the Parisian boutique L’Île aux Fées, the e-shop and handles communication. Some relationships are written in the stars : ours is clearly one of those! We are closely linked and share some much in common, we truly believe it was meant to be : “There are no coincidences, only encounters,” said Paul Éluard.

2. Did you have a career in Fashion before launching Charlotte Sy Dimby?

In spite of her artistic talents from an early age on, Monique’s parents strongly encouraged her to take up scientific studies. She graduated with success as an engineer and began her career as an electronic engineer. Yet the company where she was employed faced difficulties and she was made redundant. Five decades ago women in the sector were so rare that she was considered a complete alien. Struggling to find work in the field, feeling that she had studied for nothing, she became very depressed. To fight against this feeling of uselessness and rejection, she turned towards creativity. Using all the tools and objects she could find, she let her imagination flow freely. As her dad said, she soon became successful with her “rags”. This creative experimentation phase was very gratifying and comforted her choice of an artistic career. It brought her renewed joy and encouraged her to take the big leap into the fashion world.

For the funny story, she worked for the American NASA as an intern! An experience she thoroughly enjoyed!

Charlotte studied economics then fashion at the Parisian school ESMOD. However she soon realized her calling was not to create fashion but to highlight it! She began as an intern at the boutique and never left! It was truly love at first sight with both the dresses and most of all with Monique who taught her everything!

3. Where do you see your business 5 years from now? Would you ever branch into other areas of fashion?

Charlotte sy Dimby child and dolly outfit matching outfits smocked dress

In five years, we hope to bring ever greater joy to families all over the world through our dresses and to continue to pass down the secrets of traditional smocks making.

We have created a partnership with HipHip Hooray in Dallas and one in Japan with San Sakae Petit. Whilst wishing to remain unique and exclusive, we would love to develop more of these fun collaborations in which we create limited editions for other boutiques! We’d love to continue making our dresses travel!

One of our projects would also be to create a mummy, daughter and dolly capsule!

And our all time dream would be to host a tea party with all our Charlotte sy Dimby princesses and their families in Paris! Imagine the fancy twirls, the smiles as the little girls meet one another and play in their pretty gowns...

Charlotte sy Dimby tea party children dress handmade embroidery

 4. Who has inspired you most along the way?

More than a person, 4 quotes constantly guide and inspire us!

“It is truly useful since it is beautiful.” - The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Creating dresses is our way of bringing beauty and joy to the world. Elegance is our door to a dream world of innocence and bliss! Through our designs, we wish to celebrate the magic of childhood, add a sparkle to these precious fast fleeting years and create happy memories.

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” - Poems of Sentiment: IV by John Keats

By creating timeless designs which never go out of style, we imagine our dresses as heirloom pieces to be cherished and passed down from one generation to another. We wish them to be treasured as tokens of love! May they become symbols of happy childhood souvenirs.

“The only wealth is man” - Jean Bodin.

Respecting each and every person entering our universe is our utmost priority. Having our very own atelier, each team member is valued and considered : we are a big family. Our dresses are all handmade and behind each one lies a heart and soul. Caring for each child wearing our dresses and building bonds with families also means a lot to us. Taking part in special moments and making dreams come true, brings us great joy.

“ What is essential is invisible to the eye. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly”- The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

This quote is at the core of our philosophy and guides all our actions. Beyond beautiful dresses, we like to think that we can convey a little more. Keeping traditions alive, passing down the precious know-how of smocks and embroideries in our atelier, supporting families, spreading positivity and optimism are our ways of making the world a better place at our humble level!

Charlotte sy Dimby handmade classic chic traditional smocked dresses for girls and babies

5. What is the story behind the name Charlotte Sy Dimby?

Charlotte sy Dimby is our brand name whilst L’Île aux Fées is our boutique name.

Each word had a meaning.

Charlotte :

Classic French girl’s name, popular in France since the fifteenth century, Charlotte holds a special place in our hearts. Indeed, Monique has had the honour of dressing two princesses named Charlotte.

First Charlotte of Monaco. For several years, Monique collaborated with Bonpoint, one of the most elegant French children’s brands. One of the dresses made for Bonpoint which featured little boats was worn by the princess who was 2y at the time. The picture was published in the magazine Point de Vue and met with huge success! Charlotte is also linked to Princess Charlotte of Cambridge. Whilst collaborating with a Spanish brand based in the UK, we were asked to create a collection of smocked dresses. One of them, a lavender blue classic Peter Pan collar and puffed sleeves dress with coral smocks was gifted by our partner to Princess Charlotte of Wales, member of the British royal family. To our utter amazement and delight, the dress which we had lovingly imagined and made from the very first to last stitch, was worn by the princess during an official trip to Canada as part of a royal tour in. We could not have been more honored.

Last but not least, Charlotte has become the nickname of Sybille, in charge of the Parisian boutique and online store. Frequently being called so by mothers and children alike, it is now her second name! She is fond of it!

Sy :

Sy is a symbol of union as it means "and" in Madagascan, mother tongue of our atelier and birth island of Monique. We like to consider Charlotte sy Dimby as a big family, in which all are united to celebrate childhood! Our wish is to create bonds through our collections : trustworthy relationships between the atelier and families, links between generations with dresses passed down as precious heirlooms, ties with children by taking part in their special moments and many more...

Dimby :

Dimby is part of our designer's full last name "Ramahay Mandimby". It means “she/he who is able to pass down and to come after. It is linked to the notion of heritage, this term perfectly matches our values. Keeping the art of smocking and traditional couture alive is at the heart of our brand philosophy.

Charlotte sy Dimby collection board smocked dresses children fashion designer

6. When did you open the store in Paris and do you foresee opening any other locations?

The boutique has been a children’s one for decades. In 2009, when the previous manager decided to retire, Monique, whose dresses were already available among other brands, decided to keep the magic alive and pursue the adventure. It is thus particularly sweet as we now have grandparents who dressed their children at the store, coming back to shop for their grandchildren!

We love our little quaint and authentic boutique nestled in the heart of Paris. We see it a home for friends and families and are therefore happy to keep our location unique! So no new boutique openings planned!

Charlotte sy Dimby parisian children boutique princess special occasion dresses for little girls

7. What is the best piece of advice you were given? Regarding anything from business to parenting to personal development, etc.?

The four quotes mentioned previously are our best advice! Like a mantra or motto, we have engraved them in our hearts and minds. We strive to live by them!

8. What advice would you give to other women?

Dare to believe in your very own dreams and projects! Strive to be autonomous and independent! The journey may not always be straight forward but after the darkest hour always comes the sunshine. Each day offers a fresh start and new opportunity, we always have a second chance. If you fail, never give up because FAIL means “first attempt in learning” and NO means move on to the “next opportunity”.

9. Is there anything you wish someone had told you along the way?

It is through experience that we learn the most! Don’t wait for someone else to gift you flowers but plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.

10. What does work/life balance look like for you?

We are truly passionate about our “work”. To the point that we don’t consider it as work, the brand is intricately intertwined with our daily life! They say “Find a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” : That's exactly us.

It doesn’t mean it’s all pink and rosy but to quote Mary Poppins this time “In every job that must be done there is an element of fun”.

Charlotte Sy Dimby children's boutique paris handmade traditional heirloom smocked dresses for girls and babies french style

11. What adversity has challenged you the most, yet made you a stronger person?

In the 90s, Madagascar, home country of our designer and team, faced a huge crisis and the entire island went on strike for over 10 months. This put an end to all overseas partnerships. Monique, who had her children’s clothing company employing 1200 people creating smocked dresses for the best European children’s brands such as Bonpoint, Cyrillus and Jacadi at that time, was forced to close.

However she did not wish to give up her dream! During thirteen years, she sold her dresses on the markets of Paris, Versailles and its surroundings. Working outdoors all day long, constantly driving from one place to another whilst raising three children was tough. In spite of the difficulties, she was happy for she had “the treasure of the heart’ : the ability to make others happy. Through her dresses, she brought joy to mums and little girls. Seeing the dresses worn with bright smiles and then being passed down from sister to sister filled her heart!

Her perseverance gradually paid off and she was able to fulfill the dream of her life and open her very own boutique L’Île aux Fées in the heart of Paris. The challenging circumstances definitely made her a stronger woman.

12. I know you meet so many inspiring women every day, how do you feel we can better support the motto of “Women helping Women?”

Our team is almost entirely composed of women. Valuing their talents and skills, allowing them to be finally independent is a way of empowering them! Our atelier being in Madagascar, birth country of our designer, this takes all its importance. It’s much more than just employees, we are like a family and truly feel responsible for each member’s well being! It’s giving each woman the opportunity to obtain a proper status, to raise and educate their children in good conditions who in turn will be able to allow the island to progress. At our very humble scale, we like to think we can make a difference.

Collaborating on creative projects like yours with the Madison dress is also a way to support women! It allows mums to express their creativity and imagination, to awaken the artist lying deep within the hearts of many.

Mother daughter pastel pink coordinated look

13. How would you describe your sense of style? If there was one designer who has inspired you most, who would that be?

Monique’s one would be either soft or colorful! Depending on her mood, she will wear dreamy calming soothing pastel as a way to wrap herself in tenderness. When she needs energy, she will gravitate towards very bright, joyful, happy and sometimes rather unexpected shades!

As for Charlotte, she has the immense privilege of being mainly dressed by the team! She loved her beautifully hand smocked and embroidered outfits which fit right in with the boutique ambiance!

Yves Saint Laurent is a deep source of inspiration for the two of us. We look up to the incredible bond he built with Pierre Bergé, uniting their different talents, they were able to bring to life the most fascinating designs! We admire his creations, his incredible fashion shows, his whole universe!

14. What is your favorite splurge or investment “High Bar” piece in your wardrobe?

For Monique, Hermès scarfs! Nothing quite like elegant silk tied around the neck to elevate a look and give that effortless chic Parisian look.

Charlotte is fond of My Chatelles slippers with interchangeable tassels! The most perfect flats for a chic look.

15. What is your favorite trendy yet affordable “Side Bar” piece in your wardrobe?

For Monique, earrings! She loves to change them often according to the trends of the moment! She collects them as a fun accessory.

For Sybille, it would be hair bows! Undoubtedly influenced by our Charlotte sy Dimby princesses, she is very fond of them lately!

16. What is one thing on your wish list for 2024?

To have well prepared the future of the company and those dear to our hearts and thus find even greater serenity allowing us to create even prettier dresses and spread greater joy!

Charlotte sy Dimby parisian children boutique princess special occasion dresses for little girls

You can find the original article straight on Brittany's website here.

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