Tribal Life | Emma McClean, Children of the Tribe founder


Image via Dee Shepherd

Like so many creatives based in Byron Bay, designer Emma McClean’s day tends to roll from beach to business and then back again, propelled by her two beautiful girls, a surf-obsessed hubby and their tribe of like-minded families. Here, she brings their free-spirited life into focus…

Children of the Tribe began while you were on maternity leave, what inspired you to start your own children’s label?

I have always had a desire to create. My first business at 10 years of age was selling little handmade message in a bottles, it was a sell-out success and I had to hire Mum and Dad! So while on maternity leave with my daughter Willow, I decided to give it a go and started designing bloomers & rompers.

How long have you been living in Byron Bay and what do you love most about Byron?

I have lived in Byron for the last 19 years. Without a doubt, I love our beautiful beaches. The water is warm enough to swim in almost all year round and we are so lucky to have so many unspoiled beaches right on our doorstep. Last summer Willow fell in love with surfing and both our girls love long summer days on the beach, playing with friends, exploring the rock pools and exploring all that nature has to offer.


First & foremost you’re Mumma to gorgeous Willow & Coco, wife to Steve, and a business owner. With family at the heart of everything you do, what does your approach to a working week look like?

My mornings start early with some exercise, followed by coffee and the school run. I love being able to be present for my girls each day. I then head to the shop to meet with my team, we have a great vibe in the shop and we try to ensure we end the week with a team vino.

Tell us more about Willow & Coco and what makes them unique to one another.

My girls are chalk and cheese. Willow is the most adventurous and sporty, while Coco is nurturing and just adores babies. They are best friends but they have their moments like all siblings I suppose.


Do Willow & Coco like to have an input into designing?

Haha, yes definitely. They aren’t shy about what they like. Willow loves the slouch pants and overalls while Coco just wants to wear a little singlet and skirt.

With production in Bali, is it a family affair when you travel for work?

I do like to try and take the family at least once a year to combine a family holiday with work, but mostly it is so busy that I try to get it done swiftly so I can get home to them and the beach.

What’s your parenting style?

Fair and firm.


Most Mums of today grew up without social media and are now raising children amongst it. Do you ever wonder what your approach will be when the girls are older?

Safety first. Currently I try not to allow unsupervised screen time.

Has parenting changed you and Steve?

Apart from the obvious changes to lifestyle, I don’t think it has changed us.  We are definitely close and united in our parenting.

Have you mastered the art of balancing it all, and any advice you can share to other mums?

Haha! No, but I will keep trying! My advice would be - It’s ok not to do it all.


As a busy mum, what’s your approach to beauty & self-nurture?

I make a lot of appointments and I often cancel them (sorry girls, haha).

Raising two little girls in an ever-changing world, what do hope to teach Willow & Coco about becoming women?

To trust themselves and support one another.

Today, what are you most proud of?

My Girls.


All images via Dee Shepherd

For our own curiosity, and as an on-going source of inspiration, we always like to find out as much as we can about our featured guests. Can you humour us with the first thing that comes to mind for each the below?
Currently I am...
Drinking | Stoneleigh Sav Blanc
Cooking | Beef Ragout
Planning | Children of the Tribe SS19/20
Listening | Tesky Brothers
Dreaming | about Mexico
Wearing | Rowie the Label White Linen Pantsuit
Watching | Gogglebox and The Bachelor
Reading | emails
To hear | silence
To see | all the kiddies in Byron wearing my swim
To hold | baby Ava (our newest friend)
To visit | Katie in Canada


 Shop Children of the Tribe here