Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style

Jesse Arifien On Business, Fashion, And Her New Style Muse

Founder of Australian maternity brand iamibu, Jesse Arifien, lives in Byron Bay with husband, photographer Trevor King, and their two children: Leo (6) and Freja (4). We sat down with Jesse to talk business, motherhood, and the joy of taking style inspiration from your three-year-old daughter.

Jesse Arifien was living and working in Los Angeles when she received the unexpected news that she was pregnant with her first child, Leo. “My husband and I found out when we were having our medical checks done for our green card at the GP. It was a complete surprise,” Jesse tells The Inarra. “I always knew that I wanted to be a mother, but it’s not as though I woke up one day and felt ready. However, once I felt life inside of me, I was forever changed.”

It was her experience of pregnancy that inspired the mother-of-two to launch her own Australian maternity brand, iamibu. “When I was pregnant with Leo, I had to find a dress for my brother's wedding in London and struggled to find anything,” Jesse reflects. “I thought to myself: If I am finding it difficult to dress in something that I feel myself in, imagine how other pregnant women are struggling.” 

After countless hours of scrolling, she eventually found a beautiful wrap dress for her brother’s celebrations, but the shopping experience left its impression and in turn, led to Jesse’s most exciting venture yet.

“There weren't any brands that were speaking to me, and why? Pregnancy is the most magical time for a woman, so why aren't we celebrating it?” Jesse says. “I've always expressed myself through style, and to not have any brands catering to pregnancy when you are already feeling very out of your body can be isolating.” 

She recalls speaking to her sister Jane, the senior design manager for Zimmerman at the time, about her difficulty with maternity wear and found that she also had a similar experience during pregnancy.

“We agreed there was something missing from the industry and I felt inspired to create a brand for us, our friends, and other women,” she continues. “Which led to iamibu, which translates to ‘I am mother’ in Indonesian as a nod to our heritage.” 

“I now believe the strongest form of love is allowing others to feel heard and with my children, that means creating space for their big emotions. I am so grateful to go on this journey with my kids, helping them to figure out who they are and allowing them to express whoever it is they wish to become freely.” 

Jesse wears the Mawar Ruched Midi Dress

Jesse wears the Citra Ruched Bust Slip

Jesse wears the Citra Ruched Bust Slip

Jesse wears the Mawar Ruched Midi Dress

Founded in 2022, iamibu has paved the way for contemporary maternity wear that aligns purpose with personal style. Designed to carry you through the most transformative stages of motherhood, Jesse tapped into their fashion experience to create everyday essentials that will be loved long after maternity leave ends. 

“We always start with pieces we would love to wear right now and then consider what functions we should add to make that particular piece pregnancy or feeding-friendly,” Jesse explains. “Then, we consider the fabrication. Does it move seamlessly with a bump? How will it return to wear post-pregnancy? What life will this piece have? There’s a mindset that maternity wear has a short lifespan. We want customers to envision our pieces sitting in their existing wardrobes for seasons to come, not just nine months.” 

This is something Jesse strives for in her own closet, investing less in trends and more in classic pieces that can be loved and lived in by someone new in the future. In her basket right now? The Mawar Ruched Shirt and Citra Slip. Jesse’s wardrobe is classic, minimal, and made to last. But one unexpected style icon has influenced her dress sense as of late: her three-year-old daughter.

"Freja already knows exactly what she likes when it comes to dressing herself and will always choose a bright, fun colour. I'm not even allowed to suggest outfits, but I love it!"

After becoming a mother in Los Angeles, Jesse and her family moved to Byron Bay where she currently runs iamibu. Although they didn’t have any family in the area at the time, Jesse soon found her village.

Jesse wears the Mawar Ruched Midi Dress

Jesse wears the Citra Ruched Bust Slip

“Community has been vital for me as a parent and creative. We are so lucky to live in Byron, where people prioritise community and connection and really understand the true value of it,” she says. “Our friends have become our family and us theirs, picking up our kids from care when we are working late and dropping around medicine at the late hours of the night when they are unwell. I couldn't do it without them.” 

But parenthood can still be tough to navigate, especially when you’re running your own business. The last few months at iamibu have been particularly exciting for the sisters, as the second capsule collection recently launched just in time for summer. But Jesse still makes sure to spend quality time with her family, no matter how busy life gets. 

“Since becoming a mother, I have stepped into a whole different sense of purpose,” Jesse says. 

“I now believe the strongest form of love is allowing others to feel heard and with my children, that means creating space for their big emotions. I am so grateful to go on this journey with my kids, helping them to figure out who they are and allowing them to express whoever it is they wish to become freely.”  

Visit iamibu online now.

 

Words by Danielle Fowler | Photography by Trevor King

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Supporting the journey of motherhood, in style

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