“We are in this together,” was Ayah Tabari’s rallying cry in early February when she took to Instagram to share an incredibly intimate glimpse into her struggle with fertility, which included several failed rounds of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). For years, the designer’s sole focus had been growing and expanding her fashion brand, Mochi, but motherhood kept beckoning. “I had a dream of being pregnant,” she shared in an exclusive interview with Savoir Flair on the eve of her happy Hawaii-themed Spring/Summer 2019 collection’s release.
“See, I had a dream of being this successful female entrepreneur, and I was able to achieve it. I always felt that if I put my mind to something, I can do it, and now I am pregnant – I dreamt it and I did it. It didn’t happen immediately, but it eventually did.” After no luck getting pregnant naturally, Tabari – like many determined women – turned to IVF, except the results were not in her favor. At least not at first.
My purpose in sharing was to be there for other women who were going through the same thing.
“IVF was very much a struggle, and I always had to put a face on,” she confessed. “This is why I chose to share my journey with the world, to tell other women that they’re not alone. When I went through it, I was alone. My friends had all gotten pregnant so easily.” The outpouring she received when she posted about her IVF experience on Instagram was overwhelming, and proved to Tabari that allowing people to see her pain was as valuable as letting them see her success.
“I wanted to show my vulnerable side because most people tell me, ‘You’re so inspirational and positive.’ But I’m not. I do have my bad days and I do get down, and going through IVF was a big part of that. I thought my story was the worst-case scenario, but in going public with my IVF, I have heard from women who’ve gone through it 20 times and still haven’t gotten pregnant and women who desperately want to do it, but can’t afford it. Really, my purpose in sharing was to be there for other women who were going through the same thing, to make them feel heard and seen.”
Ironically, you never would have guessed that Tabari was in a dark place when she designed her sunny, prismatic Spring/Summer 2019 collection for Mochi. In fact, inspiration struck during the least likely time: between rounds of IVF, when Tabari and her husband literally and figuratively escaped to Hawaii after another failed round of injections, taking a 24-hour journey from the malaise that enveloped her life back home. Landing in Honolulu, she got right to work, heading straight for markets where she met with local artisans, explored their crafts, and got to know their families.
What’s so special about Mochi is its mission, its tremendous and thoughtful effort to preserve pockets of unique craftsmanship around the world – from Jaipur to Mexico City – and elevate the native artisans who are experts in their respective crafts. “When you work with artisans, you have to know what you’re doing,” she shared. “You have to work through an NGO for it to really be fair – you absolutely can’t take advantage of [the artisans] and not pay them a living wage!” Mochi not only exists as a fun, optimistic fashion brand that delights bohemians and jet-setters alike, but it also serves a real, tangible purpose.
Everything has come full circle.
Far away in Hawaii, Tabari immersed herself in the local art scene and discovered the wonders of Polynesian culture, which has given the world everything from flower crowns and tie-dye to “tribal” tattoos. Except, in Polynesia, each one of these elements has a distinct meaning and deep symbolism that has been lost through commercialization. Tabari was careful to represent true Polynesian culture in her work, from the “tattoo” embroidery that is woven into the bodice of her dresses to the placement of symbols on her tie-dyed looks.
Upon returning from Hawaii and starting on the collection, Tabari learned that a new round of IVF had taken hold, that she was finally pregnant. As she awaits the birth of her first child, she reflects on the struggle she went through to get there. “Everything has come full circle,” she glows. Joy becomes her, it radiates off her, palpable to everyone who sees her. It’s also evident in the collection that she created while going through her worst days. Discover some of our favorite looks from the heartfelt Mochi Spring/Summer 2019 collection in the gallery, below.