By making clothes for his daughter, a man from Philadelphia is strengthening their relationship.
The 36-year-old father who founded the fashion content blog Daddy Dressed Me and whose 9-year-old daughter Ava models his creations.
When Ava was just three years old, Gardner started designing clothes for her out of secondhand women’s clothing.
After watching his sister sew, he decided to take up the pastime in an effort to improve his bond with his daughter.
Gardner made his first article of clothing, a pair of pants he had made from a woman’s skirt, after watching hours of YouTube lessons
As soon as he saw the look on Ava’s face and the confidence with which she posed, he knew he was on to something.
To date, Gardner has created more than 200 outfits for his daughter, often coordinating them with his clothing so the two can match when they go out.
He said his sole focus initially was to help Ava build self-esteem and confidence, but now it’s so much bigger than that.
We are a team. We collaborate on everything. I want Ava to feel empowered by this experience.
She shares her ideas and inspiration, picks fabrics, helps with styling and photoshoot locations.
We encourage and motivate each other along the way. Our bond is built on positivity and love,” Gardner told Because Of Them We Can.
The debonair duo posts their fashions regularly on Instagram and have since taken their talents to TikTok.
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Gardner hopes that he can inspire other fathers to find creative ways to bond with their children, regardless of their gender.
Be present, be consistent and emotionally available. I wanted a son first, but it makes total sense that I have a daughter.
Having a daughter opened my mind and heart in ways I couldn’t have imagined.
It’s so important to be a great example of what a man is along with teaching her how she should be treated.
The quality time I spend with Ava means everything to her,” Gardner said.
He hopes to continue bonding with Ava through creative outlets. He is learning how to do her braids and taking the time to paint her nails.
The aspiring fashionista has already started doing her own sewing. A few years ago, she made her first dress for the Pre-K graduation.
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Gardner maintains that it is totally up to Ava, but he hopes to have the privilege of sewing for many more of her special occasions in the future, such as prom.
The chance to develop and incorporate my fatherhood experience into my work is the biggest blessing in my life, Gardner told BOTWC.
He’s pleased for the time being to merely use sewing to make his life and the life of his daughter happier. The excitement of seeing a concept I had come to life is my favorite part.
I enjoy having Ava along for this experience because she brings the outfits to life.