Superfussy founders Khairi Mdnor and Nathalie Coppens find inspiration around the world, but their primary muse is their daughter Milla, a four-year-old with more passport stamps than most adults. Launched two years ago featuring kurtas and harem pants, the line has expanded into a well-curated collection of boho-chic apparel and accessories made for traveling. Some are sourced from artisans, others one-off vintage finds and more created by Khairi and Nathalie. New Yorkers can find superfussy at Fort Greene’s Brooklyn Flea on Saturdays, while far-flung shoppers can purchase their looks online. Everyone should visit the website for their gorgeous, inspirational photography. Here, Khairi and Nathalie share their favorite travel memories as well as their tips and tricks to managing seriously exotic travel with a toddler.
Q: Where and when did you take your first trip as a family?
Our very first trip together as a family was to Belgium back in 2010 when Milla was barely 4 months old. We had such a wonderful experience traveling together that a month later, we stepped it up a notch and set off to Singapore and Bali, where we took our first trip as a couple. When Nathalie and I first met, we promised each other we would never let starting a family stop us from seeing the world, and so we continued on our adventures and traveled around Myanmar when she was 16 months old. Just before Milla turned 2, we decided to take advantage of not having to pay for an additional seat and took a beach vacation to Tulum. That trip was very special, as prior to Milla being born, we had promised each other we’d return with her someday. There’s this picture I took on our first trip of a very pregnant Nathalie floating in the ocean with her belly pointing to the sky that pretty much sums up why we came back. It was amazing to see she loves the place as much as we do.
Q: What is your favorite travel memory from childhood and what do you hope your kids remember about their travels?
Nathalie’s mom is a photographer and her dad is a tribal art dealer. While her friends went to the south of France during the summer, her family traveled to Bali, Sulawesi and Yogyakarta. Traveling and cool hunting has always been in their blood. From walking the beaches of Bali to trekking mystical Borobudur, being at a ceremonial funeral in a small village in Sulawesi and visiting a dance school in Jakarta, there are just so many fond memories. She remembers vividly during a trip when all these older ladies kept pinching her two sisters and her albeit endearingly, the three of them wondered if they were some kind of attraction, three little white Belgian girls in Asia.
I grew up in Singapore and my childhood was less about travel than being active outdoors as a child obsessing about soccer, field hockey and racket sports in 90-degree weather. Perhaps it’s the combination of both our childhood experiences that culminated in a balanced approach of exploration and relaxation. Taking a break from daily routines and spending quality time as a family is probably the best thing about traveling together; experiencing different cultures is the best education any child could have. Our hope for Milla is for her to have a happy childhood filled with adventures and beautiful memories. It’s incredible to see her flip through the photographs we took on our trips and remembering details we never imagined she would.
Q: Have any of your family trips been a complete fail?
We never travel to a destination without doing research ahead of time and planning our itinerary. This ensures we get the best experience possible, especially since most of our travels thus far include off-the-beaten places in countries like Myanmar, Philippines and Northern Thailand. We also love working with local guides to get an insider’s perspective coupled with our own research. We never leave anything to chance, especially since we’re traveling thousands of miles in a foreign country with a child in tow.
Q: Name a place where you’ll always return and why.
That destination would have to be Myanmar, hands down our favorite country we’ve visited thus far. We were fortunate to have visited the country before the US started lifting sanctions against the military junta, which resulted in the recent explosion of its tourism industry. You could feel the isolation from Western influences, probably like Thailand way before it became a popular destination. There were no ATMS in sight when we visited and almost everywhere we went, including the national banks, crumpled notes were not accepted! We mostly explored Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan and the floating villages and gardens of Inle Lake. There are amazing temples and pagodas pretty much every way you look, and sunsets were simply stunning. The people were warm and hospitable and the country has such a rich culture and heritage, not to mention Buddhist monks far outnumber the military.
Q: What’s your dream destination for travel a deux, and what’s on your bucket list for a trip with the family?
Probably metropolitan cities like Hong Kong, Barcelona, Rio and Buenos Aires for travel a deux. Milla just turned 4, and while some parents prefer to travel with their toddlers with the comfort and amenities that a lot of big cities provide, Nathalie and I prefer being closer to the ocean and out in nature or going to a city’s outskirts to check out life and culture beyond the hustle and bustle when we travel with a toddler.
First on our bucket list, we’d have to say India, even though what’s being covered in the media these days tend to set off a red flag especially for women. We have a trip planned to Cambodia later on this year, but we both agree we’d love to take a trip to India next and experience its mystical offerings and world-renowned fabric industry. We haven’t been to South America, would be incredible to take a few months and explore that part of the world as well. We’ve also spoken quite a bit about the Middle East; hopefully we’ll be able to conquer as many continents as possible in the years to come.
Q: Where would you send first-time visitors for a family day and kid-free night in your hometown?
The great thing about living in New York City is that it’s such a kid friendly city with tons of activities for families. Governors Island is a wonderful place for families offering bike rides around the island, fun mini golf for all ages with creative obstacles, big lawns to just run wild on, exhibitions in old colonial houses and many other wonderful programming. It’s a great retreat and the fact that you have to board a quick 5-minute ferry makes you feel like you’re getting out of the city. As far as a kid free night goes, we’d recommend starting your evening at the underground Tokyo-style cocktail den BFlat in Tribeca, the head to the border of Chinatown and Lower East Side for a scrumptious meal at Fat Radish and catching a performance of Sleep No More for a fun theatrical experience like no other to top off the night.
Q: What’s your traveling uniform? Do your kids have one as well?
Milla’s been wearing superfussy harem pants and kurtas on all of our trips. We love how light and airy they are while providing coverage from the sun (and mosquitoes at night). It’s the perfect travel wear, fit for any occasion. She’s the inspiration behind our brand and continues to be our muse for our love of travel and photography. We tend to pack very light on our trips together, “dressing up comfy” as we like to call it. The peshtemals we carry (aka Turkish hammam bath towels) are so amazingly versatile they’ve been used as a scarf, blanket and towel by the pool. When we’re on a beach vacation, the Moroccan kaftans are the uniform day in and day out. As we continue to expand our product line, we hope to become a one-stop shop for wanderlusty families.
Q: Fill in the blank: Flying with kids is...
Unpredictable. Now that Milla is a bit older it’s relatively easy. But we must say she’s has been an amazing traveler from the start; the stamps in her passport says it all.
Never board a plane without...
A packed bag of essentials that are easily reachable. We used to always travel with stickers; they would keep Milla busy for hours (obsessively!). Now that she’s older, things are a whole lot easier, and movies keep her well occupied between naps.
Q: If parents could design a hotel, all rooms would have…
Padded rooms and soundproofing! The one thing that could be fun is to have an adjoining kids room that is an exact replica of an adult room but mini-sized with everything from a mini key card for entry to a mini king size bed to a mini bar with little bottles of apple juice to a mini toilet, etc so that they can fully experience what we experience, but scaled to their size and imagination.