Ala and Sunny on Family, Memories and the Legacy of AvA
In celebration of Mother’s Day, AvA’s own Ala Isham sat down with daughter Sunny Zweig to share family memories, the dynamics of working together and the legacy they both see for AvA. With legacy in mind, we’re honoring the holiday with our new Mini + Me set, which offers a multi-generational family moment based on a present Ala gifted Sunny’s daughters. Like the style that defines AvA, so do the women of this storied brand.
What’s it like running a business as mother and daughter?
Ala: It’s a lot of fun on one hand and difficult on the other. We know each other so well and we’re often on the same page and totally in sync. But when we’re not in sync, we’re radically not in sync. Also being a mom and a boss is not always easy. You have to remember which role you have to play. That’s the difficulty, but the fun is that we often think the same, only you think younger than I do.
Sunny: I think I’m good at interpreting what’s going on with you to other people, which is helpful. I can act as a conduit because I know you better than everyone else. The hardest thing is understanding the line between personal and business. It’s almost impossible not to take what you have to say personally.
Ala: You also expect more from your own family. The idea is that the brand was started by me but you’ve basically been doing on the job training, and you’re doing great.
Ala, what was Sunny like as a child? What’s it like seeing her as a mother?
Ala: You were a handful. You had a very strong personality, and you’re still a handful with a very strong personality. You were adorable as a child, but I could’ve done without the teen years. The best part is watching your children who are all complete handfuls. It’s rather fun to watch you getting it back a bit.
Sunny: Everyone who becomes a mom thinks, I’m going to be different, but I find myself saying the exact same things you did. I find myself using almost exactly the same terminology. I find myself repeating actions or phrases. I can’t avoid it.
Ala: You’ve definitely mellowed since becoming a mom.
Sunny: I think it’s just exhaustion to be honest with you.
Ala: I also love that as a mom, you now understand why things happened a certain way. I wouldn’t give you your Halloween candy because it made you crazy. Now you get it, but when I was holding it back, it was a cardinal sin.
Sunny: I think you were pretty ‘lax with that actually.
Ala: You have no idea how much you didn’t get.
Sunny: I really loved traveling as a family. I loved learning about different places and being exposed to cultures and societies and art.
Ala: You and I are the same that way. We both studied art history. We tend to like going to museums and we could probably drag the rest of the group with us. I love that you can spend hours in front of a painting.
Ala: One of my favorite memories was when you were six. You were upset with me over something, so you decided to run away. You put on a party dress, you got your favorite blanket, took your canary in a cage and a pocketbook and walked yourself theatrically to the elevator. I had already called the doorman but I was prepared to let you go to teach you a lesson. I remember your finger was poised on the button, but you didn’t do it in the end.
Sunny: I should’ve just pressed the elevator button, but I pictured myself on the street with my bird, and thought, maybe it’s not worth it.
How would you describe your personal styles?
Ala: We tend to like the same things but we won’t both wear the same look. We have the same view as to what’s flattering and what’s not.
Sunny: Your outlook is more classic than mine. I tend to like boho, ‘90’s styles I can work in whenever I can. But we’re eye to eye on important foundations of the brand.
Ala: We’re very alike on the future of AvA. We both obviously want to grow it. I see it as clothing and going into lifestyle. The nice thing about a mother/daughter partnership is that you can continue it with your girls or with Charlie down the road.
Sunny: I’d also love to continue to speak to transitions in women’s lives in a broader way. Right now we’re focusing on the older demographic, but it’s the same situation in your late 30’s. You’re evolving your style and becoming comfortable in your shoes. Your body’s changing too. I’d like to continue to create clothing that focuses on those transitions.