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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // Jen Fuller | @EttaLoves

Say hello to Jen Fuller, founder of  ETTA LOVES –  an incredibly stylish collection of sensory baby muslins designed with love and science to support your baby’s development.  We love to champion a family-run business and Etta Loves was founded from the sofa by Jen! When you buy from a small business, you’re supporting a family. And that always feel’s nice. Even better when the products are this clever and functional!

CB: Firstly, please introduce yourself and your concept.
JF: Hello, I’m Jen Fuller and I am the founder of Etta Loves, we produce stylish and sensory baby textiles that are designed with science to support babies’ eye development.

CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your brand name?
JF: Funnily enough I love my daughter Etta’s name (it was my choice; my husband would have called her Aida) so when I devised the idea of sensory baby textiles it seemed to slot into place. It was discussed at length with my NCT friends, who are a bunch of smart, creative and inspirational women, and everyone agreed it was unusual and catchy, with a sense of authenticity given that Etta is chief product tester!

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your Brand/Social account(s)/Business/Service/ Movement or Concept?
JF: I was sat on my sofa during one of the fairly boring early days feeding 4 week old Etta and watching Ru Paul’s Drag Race, when I realised that Etta’s gaze was locked onto my black and white patterned jumper. It was the first thing I’d notice her actively try to concentrate on, that wasn’t a face, and something just clicked. Muslins are so omnipresent for the first year of life, and beyond, so when you add in how multi-functional they are and the close proximity they come to a baby’s face it made sense to start there and make them do something far more valuable than just mop up baby yuck!

CB: What is your brand ethos?
JF: To make products which start with the science, but never forget the style or the function. Products that both you and your baby will love. Products which complement your little one’s visual development whilst retaining a real sense of style for you.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
JF: I’m inspired by all sorts of random things, but am also lucky enough to live in Walthamstow which has the most amazing community of entrepreneurs and wonderful small businesses. I really feed off the people I have met during my journey so far, and when I team that with two of my NCT friends who are actively involved in the business it’s just a joy and hard not to keep being full of ideas.


CB:
Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
JF: We are about to expand the Etta Loves Animals range into washcloths and dribble bibs, and the second “Etta Loves …” collection is in the design phase, with samples due soon. The new collection will have the same stylised unisex appeal but is a very different inspiration from “Animals”.

SENSORY WASH CLOTHS // COMING SOON

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
JF: The best advice for me was that everything is just a phase, which is so commonly banded around but so so true. When you’re stuck in the deepest despair about them not feeding, napping, pooing etc it can feel like you’re totally helpless and that it will never change, but it always does. That and to ask for help, lots and lots of it.

CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia?
JF: Funnily enough muslins, especially given that Etta is the snottiest baby I’ve ever come across! Second only to Calpol and Cedric the zebra!

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
JF: Dark chocolate and eye cream. They were essentials before and whilst my world has shifted they are just as important, if not more so!

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
JF: Going to work (not Etta Loves) 4 days a week. Being on my phone when Etta is in the room. Doing anything at the weekend which doesn’t involve her. The usual really. I don’t get round it I think I just justify all types of work as being essential to our future, and have to tell myself that I do need to prioritise myself every now and again as ultimately it will make me a better, well rounded mum.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
JF: I really enjoy Yoga but have been a bit crap sticking to it. Reading a book is a rare but enjoyable treat, and actually gardening in these spring / summer months.

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
JF: I am a big fan of Zara for Etta and I, and I also love Born at Dawn, a new curated online shop for stylish and classic piece for adults. For kids clothes I adore The Mini Edit as they have the best collection of cool clothes I’ve come across and within it I’m addicted to Mini Rodini for Etta. I also discovered this week that Cos does baby clothes… which is dangerous information! I’m a huge fan of interiors so will lose myself in House of Hackney or the John Lewis haberdashery department.

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
JF: It’s between my Hush boyfriend jeans and a new Stella Nova jumpsuit from Born at Dawn.

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
JF: Paris, workshop, wine.

CB: Tell us something that might surprise people about you.
JF: Perhaps that I am working full time in my role at a media agency and running Etta Loves in the spaces in-between. Or that I lived in Spain for a year, and it turned out that my old boss is now being hunted by Interpol…

CB: What’s the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
JF: I generally find that people are kind more often than not, however my husband Chris often surprises me with little acts of kindness. I knew he was a good’un when after a few weeks of going out I caught a nasty cold. My doorbell rang and when I opened it no one was there but a box full of everything that I both needed to tackle a cold plus a few of my favourite treats was sat on the doorstep. It was such a thoughtful thing for someone to do, it really stuck with me.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
JF: I’ve just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and wow was that a beautiful yet harrowing read. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
JF: It’s dark and we live on a fairly busy road so I can’t see much through the obscured window film! New people have just moved in across the road so my view is normally them mooching about their daily life.

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
JF: In the countryside breathing clean air and with a 24-hour beauty therapist on hand. I need some serious buffing and revitalising at the moment!

Loved chatting with you Jen – you’ve created a wonderfully functional and SCIENTIFIC baby product; that is super stylish too. Eli is almost 5and we have muslin’s still in use – proof that this is product that you’ll be using for a long time after those new-born day’s are over! Looking forward to watching how Etta Loves evolves!

Be sure to follow Jen & Etta Loves on Insta: @EttaLoves and shop the latest collection: Shop Now.

C

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ETTA LOVES // THE STORY

Sat on my sofa with a heap of mucky muslins by my side, I realised that 4-week old little Etta was staring at my top. It was the first thing I’d noticed her actively trying to focus on and unsurprisingly it was a simple black and white pattern.

After a month of trying to rotate black and white clothing (which got both difficult and boring) this got me thinking; why isn’t one of the most seen items by babies designed to stimulate them and capture their attention? And why wouldn’t you use medical knowledge of babies’ visual development to make them the best that they could be at doing this? And while you’re at it they should be stylish… 

Functional, developmental and stylish muslins are what I wanted to create.

Now don’t get me wrong, I own other lovely muslins and some are black and white. But whilst these provide some stimulation for my little one through the very fact that they are high contrast, they haven’t been developed with this as their primary objective.

Etta Loves muslins are not only practical, super-soft, absorbent 100% cotton, but they have been designed with input from an early years visual expert, to ensure that they stimulate babies’ visual and cognitive development. As such the range is split between 0-4 months and 5+ months.

As an added bonus they look fabulously stylish, so whoever uses them will look great, regardless of which bodily fluid they might be trying to catch…

ETTA LOVES // THE SCIENCE

 

At birth, an infant’s vision is very limited as their visual system is not fully developed. Over the first few days and weeks of life vision improves steadily and infants will be able to see high contrast patterns in black and white.

Very young infants do not see in colour because the cells in the retina which detect colour have not yet fully developed. Their main focus will be on objects 8-10 inches from their face – which is happily the approximate distance from their face to your face when you are interacting with them.

By around 6-8 weeks of age babies can focus on your face more easily, and that is when you might notice that gorgeous first smile being returned right back to you.

During the first few months the brain is working out how to work the eyes together as a pair and vision starts to improve quickly. At this stage babies will start to learn how to track objects and will start to reach out for things that they find interesting.

It is generally thought that by the age of 5-6 months children have much better colour vision, although at this stage it is still thought to be not as sensitive as that of an adults. Children of this age will mostly be attracted to bright, strong primary colours.

Vision continues to improve steadily through the first 12 months and beyond into toddlerhood. It is possible to assess vision in infants, babies and preverbal children and any concerns about your child’s vision should be discussed with your GP.

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // ANNIKI SOMMERVILLE | @AnnikiSelfishMother


The first in our series of #NEVERCONCISECHATS is with Insta-Wonder, Anniki Sommerville.
Anniki is refreshingly honest, hilariously funny and a Super Editor at Selfish Mother-come-The Hotbed Collective co-founder.

 

CB: Please introduce yourself and what you do.
AS: My name is Anniki and I work as Super Editor at Selfish Mother with the fabulous Molly Gunn and also co-founded The Hotbed Collective with Cherry Healey and Lisa Williams. I’m a freelance writer, branding consultant and copy writer.

CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your online alias/brand name?
AS: Well it’s interesting as I didn’t come up with either of the brand names I work on at the moment but have done loads of work in branding in the past. It used to be my bread and butter. A good name needs to get your idea across really quick and ideally have a bit of humour too. People have the attention span of a gnat these days so nothing too wordy or laborious I feel.

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
AS: I can only really talk about The Hotbed Collective here as Molly obviously created Selfish Mother and was inspired to create a platform for Mums to share stories and engage with one another. The HBC is different in that we want to encourage women to be more open and honest about sex. It was sparked by a conversation I had with Cherry about 2 years ago when we realised that women feel awkward ‘fessing up to the reality of bad/dull sex lives. We wanted to change that and so we’re creating a website and want to create events and other media that make it feel more permissible to talk about this stuff (without having to neck three litres of prosecco first).

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
AS: The people that inspire me are often American for some reason. There are so many great writers and performers in the states. I love Lena Dunham. Tina Fey. Lindy West. Cheryl Strayed. Nora Ephron (the late great). I basically love anyone who has a sense of humour and is outspoken and honest. I think there needs to be more honesty but we can be silly too.

CB: Can you tell us about, or give us a sneaky peek of something new that’s coming up?
AS: Well have two things right now that are exciting. On Selfish Mother we are creating a new travel section to the blog and are looking for writers who can give us tips on greats places to travel to. Just because we’re parents doesn’t mean we have to give up on all that good stuff. Selfish Mother is always changing and adapting to new things so watch this space!
On The Hotbed Collective side, we have just done our #backinthesack survey and have spoken to 750 people about their sex life post-kids. We are launching a website and then there will be an event further down the line. We are going to use the site to talk about our own sex lives but also to interview a range of different people. We want there to be tips and practical things to do when your love life sinks into the doldrums. We want it to feel intimate, fun and a bit sexy too.

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
AS: It’s hard. I wish I had been better prepared for the lack of sleep. The fact that the first few months feel really hard. That it’s normal to feel like you’re losing your mind. Sometimes the only thing that got me through was visualising Oprah Winfrey. In the middle of the night I’d be so tired that she’d just appear to me and I’d get comfort in talking to her. That sounds mad but offers up and insight into how un-hinged I felt!

CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia?
AS: Snacks. More snacks. I find the minute we leave the house my daughter starts telling me she’s hungry. I have to have a few different options. And always one or two sweets. You can try Danish parenting/French parenting/whatever but a sweet ALWAYS works when you’re in a tight spot and need to use good old fashioned bribery to get home/in the car/leave a playdate/go to the shop etc.

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
AS: If it’s for me then it would probably be make up. If I have make up on then I feel human. In the early days my neighbour came up to me and told me I looked awful. I find that people think it’s perfectly okay to say you look dreadful when you’re a parent. After that I made sure I always had slap on. With the slap on I can fake not being tired. My other essential is the Aveda Chakra spray. I keep talking about it but so far they haven’t offered me any freebies. I feel quite sore about that I can tell you.

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
AS: I get it every time I leave my daughter at nursery. I do this calculation in my head and think about how she’s going to start pre-school soon and yet I’m leaving her a couple of times a week and don’t see her. The reality is that I am now freelance and can’t get any work done at all when she’s with me. I end up shouting at her and telling her to get lost so the time she spends with me when I’m working isn’t very good quality. I have to remind myself of that. And the fact that seeing a working Mummy (who shouts sometimes) is probably a good thing.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
AS: I love to watch reality TV but never get a chance. Sometimes if my daughter is playing in the garden I will sneak into the front room to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians or America’s Next Top Model. If I can’t sleep at night I come down and watch it. Their lives are so different to mine and their problems so out of my realm of experience (Kim is usually worrying about the launch of her new butt cream and whether Kayne is having a row with her Mum or not) – pure escapism. I am really into low-brow culture and am not ashamed to admit it (I also like reading to balance it out).

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
AS: The FMLY store tops – my main look is a sweatshirt with an A-line skirt and blue bruises on my knees. I love Selfridges but can’t afford anything there anymore. I also love &OtherStories as they have really original clothes and styles. I basically can’t go in there anymore as it’s too dangerous for me. I even tried to buy a jacket in a size 8 because I loved it and it was the last one. For kids stuff I love Next, Boden, Gap, FMLY store. I also love Aveda Chakra spray as I mentioned before ha ha.

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
AS: Dungarees. I wear them all the time. They aren’t flattering on me as I have a big bum but I don’t care. I just like that combination of a casual dungaree and a feminine top. I also like the A-line skirt and sweatshirt combo. I struggle to find jeans I like or that fit properly

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
AS: Hungover, panic-attack, moments of happiness.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
AS: I used to be the singer in a band and had a hit – you can see the video on YouTube.

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
AS: I had a friend who is a midwife and she came to visit me every other day for about a month when my daughter was born. She knew I was struggling. She is basically the nicest, kindest person I know.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
AS: I love the new book by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel (We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere). I haven’t seen any films apart from Trolls which I thought was okay. Music wise I am listening to the theme tune to Big, Little Lies- Michael Kiwanuka- Cold Little Heart. When I listen to it I pretend that I’m one of the characters driving along the Pacific Coast Highway (rather than driving to Lidl down the Uxbridge road)

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
AS: I can see my cat who is busy burying her business in the neighbour’s vegetable patch.

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
AS: I would like to be at a spa. I really feel like I need a massage. I want to lie in a pool of warm water and listen to Michael Kiwanuka and pretend I’m Reese Witherspoon.

CB: Anything else you’d like to add in?
AS: When you get past 40 you really don’t give a crap about what other people think. Like really! It’s good.

#ClaireChatsToANNIKISOMMERVILLE

I absolutely loved this chat with Anniki – thank you for taking part in our series! Be sure to follow her on Insta: @AnnikiSelfishMother and via her brilliant blog: Anniki Sommerville
Check back every Wednesday for the latest interviewee!
Cx