Maxine Thompson studied fashion design and worked for Chanel before training as a chef. She found the unisex chef trousers available unattractive and uncomfortable so set out to design something better. After years of frustration with the ugly trousers she and her fellow female cooks had to wear, Maxine Thompson – an Australian-born, London-based chef – began sketching her ideal pair. After trousers losing their shape, losing buttons mid-service or having the fabric colour bleeding onto her chef whites after 14 hours in a hot, demanding kitchen, Maxine knew what was needed. The result was PolkaPants: trousers designed for functionality, comfort and style.
The first pair – and namesake design – covered in big black polka dots, are still available today. Inspired by the simplicity and practicality of the Utility Clothing Scheme of the 40s, the high waist and slim fit is designed to flatter all shapes and sizes, from 0 to 22. The gold zip detail brings glamour to the everyday, and two large belt loops are for tucking in a tea towel. Available in nine colours and prints, each print is created exclusively for PolkaPants by artists from around the world.
1) What is your name and where do you live?
Maxine Thompson and I currently live in London, but bounce between London, New York and Australia.
2) What is your favourite soulventure?
At home in Australia with my parents. Chatting over a nice platter, a glass of wine and an outdoor fire at sunset.
3) What’s something that no-one would guess about you?
I have a freckle on my right eyeball.
4) What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
To be kinder to myself. Sometimes you often forget that by taking a break and stepping back, it makes it easier to step forward.
5) If you could be doing anything, anywhere, right now, what would it be?
Waking up in the back of the truck after sleeping on the beach at Double Island Point; going for a sunrise surf with my dad and my sisters while Mum is fishing!
6) Of what are you most proud?
Building a product that is helping women to feel (and look) better in their chosen profession and also creating a community that supports, inspires and connects women all over the world.
Erin Patinkin & Agatha Kulaga, the founder of Ovenly in New York. They met at a food book club in New York about 9 years ago and now have one of best bakeries in NYC. Not only is their company great, so is their business model – the changes they are helping to make within the industry and their passion for more inclusive employment strategies is really inspiring. They are always both so open to giving advice (Erin now co-hosts a podcast called Start to Sale) and on hand to answer any business, or industry related questions.
8) Best kiss of your life?
On my first date with my boyfriend, we’d drunk about 87 glasses of wine and neither of us really remember it, but it was perfect.
9) What is a new skill you’d like to learn (and why?)
I’d love to speak Italian. I adore Italian food, culture and history, and I’d love to be able to converse properly with them!
10) Woods, mountain, city or sea?
Sea! There’s no better cure for anything in the world than jumping in the ocean.
11) If you could say one thing to lots of people, what would it be?
Don’t be scared to ask questions. A mentor of mine once said that you only know what you only know. There are so many people in the world who have been in your position before, so it’s about finding the right person and asking the right questions; in business, in life and in love.
12) What makes you happy?
Being with my family.. which is hard because we all live in different parts of the world, so it is always time really treasured when we are together.
13) What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Lazing around in bed in the mornings with endless cups of tea and nothing to do that day but spend the afternoon pottering about in the kitchen!