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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // KERRIE-ANNE BRADLEY | LONDON MOTHER’S CLUB

Meet the wonderful Kerrie-Anne Bradley, co-founder of beautiful site and Chief IG-er for London Mothers Club. Kerrie-Anne is a Pilates teacher & Mama to Ivy. Like me, she’s also an avid fan of The Libertines (and perhaps, not so secretly, of Harry Styles!). With arguably the best wardrobe on IG (oh the bags and shoes she has!), Kerrie-Anne has a keen sartorial eye and lust for London life. She’s also someone I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with over IG for a long while – but sadly, we’ve never yet managed to meet up IRL! We need to sort that pet!

Here, Kerrie chats to me about her inspirations, the inevitable Mum-Guilt and her go-to fashion brands.

CB: HELLO KA! Firstly, please introduce yourself and your concept.
K-AB: Hello, I am Kerrie-Anne! Mum to a very hilarious 5 year old called Ivy, a pilates teacher and founder of London Mothers Club. I used to be an economist too but that feels like a lifetime ago now. London Mothers Club is a lifestyle edit for mamas featuring mamas we meet on our journey, places we visit and things we love. It’s mostly a bit of fun and focussed on sharing cool stuff with like-minded mamas.

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
K-AB: It began in my flat in Kings Cross 5 years ago. I was lonely as I didn’t have any fellow mama mates, so I set up a few events in a few different places in London to try to meet some mums who liked similar stuff to me. At the time I was really into making jewellery and so I held some crafty events in Chiswick, Clapham and Islington. I connected with the mums who came to my Clapham event most and so we moved there and LMC was born. In the old days we used to run 2-3 events per year. We rebranded as a lifestyle edit in September last year and so far, all is going well.

CB: What is your brand ethos?
K-AB: Only share positive stuff about things that we genuinely like. We trial everything before featuring it.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
K-AB: Cliché for a Mum to say but definitely my little Ivy. She’s so full of life, clever, witty and creative. She inspires me to be a better version of me – less grumpy and anxious. God, I’m welling up writing this. Actually, that’s a good point. Ivy has brought out a softer side in me. I never used to cry and now I bawl at anything and everything!
My pilates mentor Sarah Woodhouse. She’s been in the business a long time, is one of the most intelligent people I know (along with my husband Timmy K) and she’s so passionate about what she does. I’m constantly learning from her and I am so pleased to have met her on my Pilates journey.

CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
K-AB: Because we are a lifestyle edit we are constantly reviewing cool places and things. There’s nothing major to share but definitely tune in as we are pretty good at seeking out new things that you will love!

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
K-AB: Well my friend who doesn’t have kids told me that her mate had told her that giving birth to a placenta was worse than the birth itself. So…. When I had done the Ivy bit (and ouch) I started freaking out thinking the worst bit was to come. Of course it wasn’t true. And of course I was being ridiculously dumb in ever thinking that could be the case. Ha, sorry not strictly parenting advice but I can’t really think of any and that was the thing that popped into my head. Oops!

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?
K-AB: Wipes. Ivy constantly has stuff on her face, in her hair, on her clothes, on my clothes, in my hair, in her bum etc etc you know the drill…

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?
K-AB: Headphones?? Ha, just kidding. My mum-essential would be paper and colours. Ivy is obsessed and it’s a sure way to get her stopping with the, ‘can we do paper, scissors, rock again mama’ everywhere we go.

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
K-AB: When I get a shouty about things that are pretty small just because I’m an impatient bugger and sometimes the, ‘can we play paper, scissors, rock’ on repeat gets on my nerves…. Always solved with a big hug and a couple more rounds of the dreaded game.
On a more serious note, I also get the guilt sometimes about choosing to only have one child. Ivy is pretty independent around other kids and sometimes I worry that she prefers her own time because she doesn’t have any siblings at home (she does have three half-siblings who live in Oxford). Also, when other mums say, “aren’t you tempted to have another. It would be nice for ivy etc” that brings on the guilt. But whenever I ask Ivy if she’d like another sibling her answer is always the same, “Why would I want another brother or sister when I have some already, I have my cousin Edie and I’ve got my babies (a crew of 10 dolls).” So I think it’s alright.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
K-AB: I am not very good at zoning out tbh. I’m constantly on the move and splitting my time between my various jobs. I do love a facial and go to a fantastic girl duo at Nichola Joss. She’s a shelb fav so it makes me feel pretty important as well as relaxed haha.

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
K-AB: I love &OtherStories, Wood Wood, Ganni for everyday wear, Tophop and Zara for jeans, Bella Freud for a logo jumper, Burberry for a trench, Aurore UK for Breton, Eric Bompard for cashmere, L’urv for leggings and Solid & Striped for a swimsuit. My biggest binge is on shoes and I have an epic collection of Gucci, Charlotte Olympia, Valentino, Miu Miu, Saint Laurant etc – all stuff that I can’t really afford now/ need now as I am an activewear wearing Pilates teacher.
For Ivy I love Greenberry Kids, Minouche (Australian), Caramel Baby, a new brand called Little Borne for the ultimate jogger combo, everything from Archie’s Boutique (she picks well) and Papouelli for shoes.

CB:  What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
K-AB: A leopard-print pair of Saint Laurent booties which I wear once in a blue moon (below).

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
K-AB: Cold, busy and long.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
K-AB: Well I am an over-sharer on social media so people know a lot about me. I guess there are lots of funny things about me I could share but that would be a bit predictable so I will share something closer to my heart. When I was 18 my best friend died unexpectedly. She was my first soul-mate and I have missed her every day since. The wonderful thing is that little Ivy has certain aspects of Carmel’s personality and I like to tell myself that her spirit lives on through my little girl. God, I am crying again….

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
K-AB: This is a tricky one isn’t it?? To be honest I am not sure that I can pin-point a particularly moment but my husband Tim is such a kind person and always has my back.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
K-AB: I didn’t read it this year but I always recommend Just Kids by Patti Smith because it is a beautifully written journey of love & friendship. It gets me every time.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
K-AB: The road. I am sitting in Planet Organic, Wandsworth. I am working in here because my wifi is down again.

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
K-AB: In Vivamayr in Austria because it is this amazing retreat that specialises in gut health and I have loads of digestive problems.

Thank you so much for taking the time out for our chat Kerrie-Anne. It’s been so lovely getting to digitally know you over the past few years. You’re one of the most lovely and genuine people I’ve yet to actually meet – and I’m gonna give you the BIGGEST SQUEEZE ever when we finally get our diaries aligned.

If you don’t already, give London Mother’s Club a follow on IG: @LondonMothersClub, LIKE on Facebook: Facebook.com/LondonMothersClub and  sign up to the website, here: LondonMothersClub.com (especially as they have amazing content, but also lots of offers & competitions!)

#NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToLMC

 

 

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // JOHANNA ROSSI | RAISING WOMEN

Meet Johanna Rossi, an Architecture graduate turned health coach, champion of women, Brit born, now long time Monaco resident and Mama of two!

Johanna is the founder of Raising Women – a brilliant community of connections and support that gives back to women less fortunate. A podcast to help mothers feel less alone and a coaching service to be able to do what Johanna  loves best; supporting women to reach their potential.

Johanna talked to me about her inspirations,  her support network, giving back and collaborations.

CB: Hello Johanna, first off, please introduce yourself and your background.
JR: I’m Johanna the founder of Raising Women, I’m also a mum of two, British and have been living in Monaco for the last 16 years. I have a very creative background and then studied to be a health coach when I had my children.

CB: Where did Raising Women all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
JR: Raising Women began when I was running a 6 week workshop called Nourish Camp here in Monaco, during that time I had a lightbulb moment that the women who I was working with have so many common doubts about life, even though they were on such different paths, and I wanted to form a community that would help them feel less alone in their journeys.

CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your brand name?
JR: Oh goodness, it took me ages, really, I think it took me around a month to finalise the name. I did so much brain storming, played with words etc. in the end I settled on Raising Women.

CB: What is your brand ethos?
JR: It’s really about acceptance of where another woman is on their journey and offering as much support as possible.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
JR: So much inspires me, but I think on a day to day basis, it’s those little connections that are made that help me to make a little more sense of my journey. Being inspire by just how amazing the universe is and finding all the little pieces of my jigsaw.

@DressLikeAMum, wearing Mum On A Misson Tee, 29.99€

CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
JR: If you have been following me online recently you will know that I’ve given up coaching, at the moment I’m going to be dedicating all my work time to painting and writing, so I’m very much in the making stage.

CB: Best piece of business advice?
JR: Make it sustainable. You’ll learn a lot about what you really want to be doing if you take on too much, as eventually a lot of things will have to give, but try and feel your way through your business ideas and make sure you feel at ease with them in the first place. Don’t take on things that make you anxious or don’t feel right, just because that is what you feel like you should be doing. Also in terms of time, you need to be at your best for you family so make sure what you are doing can fit in to a schedule that will allow you time to look after yourself and sleep.

CB: How do you juggle being a working Mama?
JR: As you say I juggle. I’m lucky in the sense that I work from home and fit my work around the kids schedule, I have little help and it is overwhelming and exhausting at times, but I’m learning what works and doesn’t for all the family.

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a Mama / best piece of parenting advice?
JR: Very good question. I’d wish I’d know a lot more than I did, I think what I would have loved to known more about is the journey it would send me off on.

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?
JR: My children and 8 and 4 now, so I’m at that stage where I carry less around with me. It’s really silly but a packet of tissues! I’ve been in some really awkward situations when I’ve forgotten to put a packet in my bag!

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?
JR: I’m not sure I have a go to item, I would say it would be more my ‘non-negotiables’, having fresh produce in the house and my herbal tea in the afternoon or evening, I love eating fresh whole foods and that also keep me feeling good.

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
JR: How much time have you got! So many things. I’m not good at being separated from them, I worry constantly, and I’m not sure I have really found a cure! I’m OK when they are in there routines at school etc. but I’m not good if I have to leave them with someone else.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
JR: I love to hike, bike, walk, write and create, if I’m really tired and need real chill out time them a good movie.

CB: You’re an avid supporter of Women and the Sisterhood – is there anyone who you’d like to give a shout out to?
JR: Of course, however my list is so so long. I’ve met so many women along my journey who I’ve connected with for different reasons. I’m so grateful for all the women who have support my work, but moreover I’m grateful to those who have wholeheartedly accepted my journey and not questioned it. Those women know who they are and that I have a lot of love for them!

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
JR: Oh to be honest I don’t really have any! We live very differently here and I’m not a huge shopper, weird right?!

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
JR: A floaty Summer dress, as it has suddenly got very hot here!

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
JR: Full, long, chaotic

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
JR: Oh erm, not sure what to say, I’m not good around people, especially new people or large groups. I get extremely anxious.

@TheFashionCraver (Emma Carr) wearing the STRONGER TOGETHER collab tee // Raising Women x The Fashion Craver – 29.99€

 

@TheCheapBlonde wearing the STRONGER TOGETHER collab tee // Raising Women x The Fashion Craver – 29.99€

CB: You’re exceptionally caring and have created a growing-collection of beautiful items – with the added conscience that you’re giving back. You have chosen to give proceeds with every Charitee sold to CARE INTERNATIONAL UK (who support women and girls living in poverty and help them overcome inequality and fulfil their potential), how did the collaboration with CARE come about?
JR: Oh thank you! Yes I donate to Care and also to Look Good Feel Better UK and now to Gender Hopes Monaco. I wanted a business that gave back in some way. I’ve not had an easy journey, but I’ve had a good education that has allowed me to bring my ideas to fruition. I’m very aware that not everybody gets this opportunity and this is why I started working with Care. Emma aka The Fashion Craver chose the charity Look Good Feel Better for our collab on the Sistas Tee and I then chose Gender Hopes for the girl’s tees as I wanted to support a charity which dealt with issues for our younger generation too.

Raising Women x Go Outside The Lines // Free Download

CB: What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
JR: Again this is a hard one. More recently I have to give a little shout out to Emma and Becky (Lady Bakewell-Park), we have never met yet these to women have supported me through a very difficult period of my life.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
JR: Women who run with the wolves, I listened to it recently on audiobook, it’s like it was written for me!

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
JR: Rooftops and mountains.

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
JR: On my own in a big art studio, painting and writing. I have so much pent up creativity in me that needs to come out, I need space, time and headspace for it to do that and in my apartment with the demands of running a home and family that is difficult.

CB: Anything else you’d like to add in!
JR: Thank you for having me on to chat and also to all the women who have helped make Raising Women what it is today!

Johanna, its been a pleasure getting to know more about you – and watching your beautiful artwork! You’re one talented lady! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat!

You can shop my favourite Raising Women pieces in The Shop >> CLICK HERE

Be sure you sign up to the Raising Women community, follow on Instagram: @Raising_Women, listen to the inspiring podcast series and Shop with Raising Women to give back to those less fortunate in the process.

 #NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToRAISINGWOMEN

MORE ABOUT // RAISING WOMEN

#raisingwomen is a coaching service and an ever growing community of like minded women sharing their stories of navigating motherhood and solving the mystery of becoming their authentic selves. It’s a sistahood based on connection, support, honesty, trust and a hunger to fulfil their potential and live their fullest lives possible.

“I believe that every woman deserves a chance to become the best version of herself and live the best version of life in her own unique way. My mission is to help mothers strike a healthy balance between raising babies and raising their woman within”

– Johanna Rossi

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // STEPH DOUGLAS | DON’T BUY HER FLOWERS

Steph - Founder - Don't Buy Her Flowers

I’m super excited to share the ‘Chats To‘ feature from these gorgeous chops ! Meet Steph Douglas, mega-Mama of 2 (soon to be 3!), founder of brilliant business, Don’t Buy Her Flowers and one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met!

Here, Steph talks to us about the drive to start up Don’t Buy Her Flowers,  The Man Package and being the daughter to a Vicar. Oh and FYI, Steph and the other INCREDIBLY TALENTED women that were featured in that horrendously inaccurate Daily Fail ‘article’ are worth SO MUCH more to their family, friends and I for one am inspired daily by these wonderful women who go above and beyond in life. I’ve never skim-read something so atrocious, EVER. The article, simply put, boiled down to shoddy so-called journalism from a very jealous battle-axe. These women juggle a million plates without dropping a single one – whilst also maintaining their own businesses and careers, their home and all the while also making their own families, or the families of complete strangers, feel loved.

ANYWAY! Not gonna give them any more airtime than they have already been so lucky to have.

Over to you Steph!

CB: Firstly, please introduce yourself and your brand.
SD: I’m Steph and my business is Don’t Buy Her Flowers – we sell thoughtful gift packages.

CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your name?
SD: Well…ours is a pretty clear idea of what we’re not! The name came really quickly, because of where the idea for the business came from. Lots of brands have really abstract names and unless you’ve lots of money so that people will know what your brand is – which I knew we didn’t – having a name that is very clear is definitely a help.

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
SD: It started after I had my first baby and I received eight bunches of flowers from lovely family and friends who wanted to say ‘congratulations’. I was sitting on the sofa feeling overwhelmed and sore and leaky and the bouquets made me feel worse. It was another thing to care for and I just didn’t have the energy – or the vases! I also found that the things people did that showed they knew how I was feeling and what I needed, whether that was food parcels or the friend that came and did my ironing and held the baby while I bathed the toddler, or just the message from a friend saying “BTW I found breastfeeding hard initially and it might take a while so don’t panic, you’re doing great”, meant so much. It’s very easy to get caught up in the joy of a new baby, and it is a joy, but it’s also many other things including exhausting and I think new mums need looking after. We launched as gifts for new mums and then very quickly our customers wanted to send our packages for Get Well, Bereavement, Birthdays – any occasion when someone needs a little TLC.

The Care Package with Gin™
SHOP // The Care Package with Gin™

 

The Care Package with Thermos Mug™
SHOP // The Care Package with Thermos Mug™

CB: What is your brand ethos?
SD: The idea and everything we do centres around thoughtfulness. We see lots of gorgeous products all the time, but unless they help someone in a practical sense or offer some TLC, they’re not right for our packages.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
SD: There is an awesome growing network of women doing their own thing and trying to figure out the juggle along with our position in society and how to still be a mother and a partner and a friend and I’m inspired by that community all the time. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or we all get it right, but we’re all trying to work it out in our own way.

Shop // The Man Package™
Shop // The Man Package™

CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
SD: We introduced The Man Package a few months ago – our customers asked us for a version of our Care Package for men. They’ve been sent for Birthdays, New Dad’s and Get Well Mostly, and as Father’s Day is coming up (18th June folks!!) we’ve added golfing and gardening magazine options for the older chaps. We’ve also got a Gluten Free Care Package coming up, which is again in response to customers asking for it.

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
SD: The biggest thing I wish I’d known is that people weren’t actually judging me and my choices, and all that time I spent worrying about whether I was getting it ‘right’ I was doing my best and that was all my children ever needed. Mostly I think new mums need to be kind to themselves as we generally are not.

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?
SD: It used to be wipes but currently it’s colouring and activity books. Buster and Mabel are really in to them so we can go for food and not be in that intense ‘ORDER NOW!’ rush as we walk through the door, which we were in a couple of years ago. They’re both pretty obsessed with the iPad but we haven’t cracked it out in restaurants yet… will see how long we can keep that up!

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?
SD: Let’s go with my Tiba + Marl bag. Even though they’re officially changing bags, I got it after mine were out of nappies so it’s never carried baby stuff, but it is always rammed with snacks and felt tips and has a protective bit for my laptop so I use it every day. As a back pain sufferer, the rucksack is a saviour. Thankfully they’ve made it a stylish accessory!

The Douglas Squad
The Douglas Squad

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
SD: The juggle. Trying to do too much and then dropping balls and realising I can’t do it all and that something has to give. My favourite thing is weekends with no plans except to hang out as a four. It gives us a chance to recalibrate and the kids are always happiest when we’re not distracted or rushing out the door to meet people and be in line with other people’s timetables. I like seeing other people too (!) but I think with busy jobs and school and nursery, time to be just us is always just what we need and means we start the week a little calmer.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
SD: I love reading but for some reason it had become something I only did on holidays. I don’t sleep that well and find if I relax with a book before bed I sleep better, so I’ve just bought a load and love the escapism.

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
SD: If I go in to &Other Stories I can guarantee I’ll find something (or a few things) I’ll love. Bimba Y Lola is great and not as widely known – some of their prints are really cool and you generally won’t find everyone in them. And John Lewis is always good for well pretty much everything.

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
SD: Ooh I just got a very cool jumpsuit from Lowie with a tropical print on it and I’m going to live in it over the summer. I love a jumpsuit – less knicker flashing than dresses, you can dress them up or down, plus one item and you’re done. Perfect.

CB:  Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
SD: Long, expensive and cakey (we were at the Richmond Fair and I was helping on the school cake stand. Doug took the kids off around the fair all afternoon and I’m pretty sure spunked £40 easily)

Steph Douglas // Founder | Don't Buy Her Flowers
Steph Douglas // Founder | Don’t Buy Her Flowers

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
SD: I would normally say that I’m a Vicar’s daughter, but as there was a (terrible and inaccurate) article in the Daily Mail last week that included this fact, it’s probably not a surprise! I have a History degree?

CB: What’s the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
SD: I think it’s the thoughtful things that come when you really need them but don’t even know you need them? I was feeling pretty knackered a couple of weeks ago and a friend stopped in on her way home from work to drop off a cottage pie and a bunch of flowers. I burst in to tears and it was just lovely to know someone was thinking of me.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
SD: I’m currently reading ‘Big Little Lies’ after watching the TV show and loving it. The characters are just brilliant.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
SD: I’m actually working on my laptop in the car on my way to West Sussex to my brother’s pub! We’re going through a very idyllic village with a cute primary school and lots of pubs and discussing how one day we will live in the country. Not ready yet though…

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
SD: Oooh, always family & friends obviously, but in a couple of weeks I’m going to Menorca with a couple of girl friends and I am so looking forward to lying in the sun, reading and doing very little else. It’s come at just the right time.

CB: Anymore for anymore?
SD: Don’t forget Father’s Day!

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat, Steph. I also wanted to extend our congratulations and love to your beautiful fam on your lovely news! 💕

Be sure to follow Steph on her own Insta: @Steph_DontBuyHerFlowers and the Don’t Buy Her Flowers Instagram for the latest business updates: @DontBuyHerFlowers

#NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToStephDBHF

more ABOUT // don’t buy her flowers.

Don’t Buy Her Flowers was founded with a simple aim: to provide thoughtful gift packages for new mums, because they deserve something lovely just for them.

From launch we received requests to send our gifts for other reasons as well as after a baby arrived – birthdays, get well, bereavement and to say ‘it’s going to be ok’. We’ve had many reports of recipients crying when they open their package, overwhelmed that someone has thought of them.

So what’s wrong with flowers?

Although they are always lovely to receive, we wanted to create something that was more thoughtful and useful for mums and women at those times when they need it most. Something that encourages her to take ten minutes to herself. For new mums, we know having babies is amazing but it’s also a rollercoaster and can be hard. Knowing someone is thinking of you can be a huge boost and it turns out that our customers wanted to express that same sentiment to friends and family for all kinds of reasons.

Flowers say “I’m thinking of you”. A gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers says ‘I’m thinking of you, this package is all about you and I hope it makes you feel good’.
‘When I had my first baby, I received eight bunches of flowers. We didn’t have a lot of space and we certainly didn’t own multiple vases. I had to give them away or bin the least fresh to make way for the most recent. I also felt completely overwhelmed with everything – the baby, the visitors, the bodily functions – and trying to arrange flowers and then dispose of them was all a bit much, however pathetic that sounds. I found that other parents felt the same and Don’t Buy Her Flowers was born.’
Steph Douglas, creator of dontbuyherflowers.com

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // Erna Leon | MERCER7

Meet Erna Leon, founder of MERCER7, is an Artist, Fashion Designer, Stylist, Shoot Art Director and super Mama to boot!
MERCER7 makes life easier for the Modern Woman; Erna’s keen (fashionable) eye and selection process removes all the barriers that online shopping often presents. Essentially, doing the research and quality control for you; taking the hassle out of online shopping! Because we’re all tight on time these days!

Erna is not only mega inspiring, she’s a joy to speak to in real life too. Her accent is one of my favourites, she has one of the best smiles (and wardrobes!) and had such an interesting upbringing!  Here, Erna chats about her varied background, upbringing and the inspiration that drove her to create her start-up.

CB: Hello my darling Erna, please introduce yourself, your background and your concept, MERCER7.
EL: I am Armenian, born in Georgia and New Yorker turned Londoner. I spent my formative years in New York, so I call New York home as I lived there from the age of 16.I studied fine arts from a very young age and when it was time to choose my future profession, I decided to go into fashion design at FIT in NY (Fashion Institute of Technology) and took my bachelors degree before working for brands like Halston, Betsy Johnson to Calvin Klein Jeans to name a few.
After marrying a Brit in New York seven years ago, we moved to London and the rest as they say is history. We’ve got two kids now, Luca is 4 and Lily nearly 3, so London definitely became my second home.In terms of concept: MERCER7 is a curated womenswear website for effortless style and collaborative fashion platform.
I focus on timeless, versatile and high-quality pieces that represent timelessness rather than fast-fashion trends.  I combine a mix of brands which scale from entry level up to one-off investment. Every item I feature is easy-to-wear and simple-to-style taking you from day to night. The collection is curated to work together seamlessly, allowing women to easily build outfits and their own capsule wardrobe with sustainable pieces that transcend the latest season.
This edited approach helps busy women to simplify the art of dressing by creating your “go-to” uniform: a single aesthetic in endless combinations that never compromises on impact or individuality.

The magazine section of the website is a big part of the MERCER7 concept. I interview other creatives and feature articles written by our contributors, so it’s all about giving voice to others, rather than being all about me.

CB: You’ve got so many strings to your bow Erna, but where did MERCER7 begin? What inspired you to start up the concept?
EL: I come from a fashion design and art background, so first and foremost I wanted to create a collaborative fashion and lifestyle platform where it enabled me to work with others. From art directing photoshoots, working with brands to curating collections around capsule wardrobes and featuring other creatives on my platform.Online shopping can be overwhelming and websites are all too often saturated with too many options. I used to return most things I ordered online due to poor quality, it would look great on screen but the reality when I received my order was that the pieces looked completely different and I was never a fan of returns. So seeing how time consuming online shopping can be, I wanted to create a focused space with a single aesthetic all in one place, to make shopping easier for busy women.
My personal selection process removes all the barriers that online shopping often presents. Essentially, doing the research and quality control for you, and  taking the hassle out of online shopping.

CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with MERCER7?
EL: Coming up with a name was fun, but tricky at the same time. My NY friend David advised me to write my favourite words that had meaning to them. MERCER7 was one of them, besides being one of my favourite streets in New York, the true meaning of the word is “Dealer of fine fabrics” which resonates massively with MERCER7 and my focus of quality.
The No.7 resonates with our belief in ‘collective consciousness’, collaboration and positivity. MERCER7 supports and collaborates with other creatives and brands through a series of interviews and features, design and styling.

CB: What is your brand ethos?
EL:Shop less, choose well’ Dame Vivienne Westwood said it better than I ever could, and it’s this mantra for sustainability that I live by at MERCER7. We don’t need more. We need better. Whilst this drives my mission, it’s the people that are at the nucleus of my brand.

I want to inspire, collaborate and create a lifestyle concept with a purpose: SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH TIMELESSNESS. I believe that our everyday can be lived in a more sustainable way by being more mindful, consuming less by choosing better.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
EL: Women inspire me. Sisterhood between women and mothers who are working to achieve their dreams. I meet so many incredible supportive women full of ambition and drive, it is truly empowering to listen to their stories.  Connecting and seeing how hard everyone works inspires me daily.

MERCER7 FILM
WATCH THE MERCER7 SS17 FILM // CLICK HERE
Featuring: Whinnie Williams  & Zara Martin.

CB:  Can you tell us about, or give us a sneak peak, of something new that’s coming up?
EL: I’ve got my launch party coming up May 23rd at the gorgeous space, IceTank in Covent Garden, which Push PR are helping me to organise.
I’m extremely excited about the party and the premiering of the fashion film that I’ve directed and styled, featuring gorgeous Zara Martin and Whinnie Williams. I am grateful to everyone who collaborated with me bringing the vision to life. I had an amazing team of creatives which I couldn’t really do without so it’s all thanks to them – Simon Wisbey was the photographer at my shoot, Sian Davis and Tara Darby filmed it all and Tahira Herold was my guru hair and makeup artist.

CB: How do you juggle being a working Mama?
EL: I don’t juggle it very well just yet. I am a work at home mum with two days of childcare per week, which isn’t very much when I work 24/7. But I’m hoping I will learn how to balance it better soon and stop working when the whole world is asleep.

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you started MERCER7 / best piece of business advice?
EL: How hard it is but how rewarding at the same time. I’ve been so blessed with incredible people who have entered my life as soon as I started this journey. I am not naturally business minded as I am more of a creative type. I’ve always been this way so all I can advice on business front is just be honest, be kind, work hard to turn your vision into reality and…be organised. (I’m not when it comes to keeping receipts, etc so trying to be better at that!)

Mama // Erna with her children Lily & Luca

CB:Anything you wish you’d known before you became a Mama / best piece of parenting advice?
EL: How selfless you become, overprotective and paranoid at times. Best piece of advice on parenting would be – listen to your kids, be present and don’t have too many rules.

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?
EL: Snacks, gotta have snacks in your bag at all times! And baby wipes. I also carry a pencil and paper as Lily loves to draw so if she gets bored, I give her something she can scribble on. Luca is a bit older so he gets an iPhone with puzzle apps which he loves doing if we are out and I can’t entertain them on a bus for example.

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?
EL: It sounds sad, but it’s got to be my iPhone and my camera. With the new business launch, I am on the phone…a lot. Managing my social media, planning my content, taking product photos, street-style, researching and replying to emails. The list is endless but I could never be able to do it without these two essentials.

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
EL:  I feel guilty all the time especially since launching. I don’t have much childcare so I am trying my best to find balance and make sure I’m not constantly working around my children (which isn’t possible at this time but I’m trying). It is so important to spend quality time with them without any distractions.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
EL:  Watch Netflix, meet up with my friends, or read interesting articles. It’s a rare treat these days.

CB:  Which are your go-to brands/shops?
EL: I love brands like Acne, Anine Bing, Iro, Joseph, and more accessible brands like & Other Stories, Cos, Tree People, Weekday, Me+Em, Samsoe, Toteme, to name a few. But my ultimate if money was no object brand would be Saint Laurent.
I only shop pieces I curate now as I am one of the customers I keep in mind – on the go busy mum. So if I buy something I wear and love, it goes straight to my shop.
The Outnet is a great one as well because you can get amazing deals on beautiful designer clothing so that’s where I look a lot too.

CB:  What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
EL: A biker and a blazer. I live in them.

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday
EL: Manic. Productive. Fun.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
EL: I didn’t learn how to ride a bike till I was 30 years old!

CB:Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
EL: My family has been incredible throughout this whole startup journey. My parents helped me massively to set up. And my mother in law is always there for me when I am desperate for childcare. She is also taking the four of us on holiday to Portugal this summer because she knew we couldn’t manage a holiday this year. I am really grateful!
Besides family, Emma Hart from Push PR has been a Fairy God Mother and a mentor to me. This woman is incredible, genuine and kind hearted. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so supportive and giving as her. 5 minutes in her company and you feel empowered and inspired. Some people have just got this skill to make you believe that anything is possible and she is definitely one of those people.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
EL: I’m a massive music fan, I love old school rock’n’roll albums like The Rolling Stones, Hendrix, for example and indie bands. Also my friend from Alberta Cross is amazing and my LA friends The Peach Kings are great too. Their new single Treasure Map is a soundtrack to MERCER7 fashion film and it’s so good!

CB:What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
EL: I am in my bedroom at the moment so I can see my garden and a lot of green. We live in Highgate so we are surrounded by the woods and the Heath.

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
EL: I would love to be somewhere sunny this weekend! Anywhere, I won’t be too picky, but just sunny and be surrounded by palm trees and have fresh coconut water in my hands.

Thank you so much Erna for taking the time out of your mad-busy schedule ahead of your launch party (incidentally, which is tonight) to chat to me. You’re a wonderful person, so thoughtful, always inspiring – and taking in inspiration in the most curious of places! I’m so lucky to know you and I am MASSIVELY proud of everything you’ve achieved with MERCER7 so far. You’re ace of frikkin base pet!

I’m so terribly sad to miss the MERCER7 launch tonight (see my Insta @JudyPink 🙁 ). But I know you’re gonna smash it and its gonna be super stylish and beautiful; with a room full of incredibly talented folk that all love you heaps! You’ve worked so bloody hard, so let your hair down tonight Mama, you really deserve it!

C
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Make sure you’re following MERCER7 on Instagram: @MERCER7Official , Facebook and sign up to the newsletter for the latest updates. You can also follow Erna’s adventures outside of Mercer7 on IG: @ErnaLeon

#NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToMERCER7

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // Joanna Riding | Mini Maison

Meet Joanna Riding, founder of Mini Maison, a brilliant online store offering modern, but playful, nursery and kids’ decor to style-conscious customers who wish to look beyond the high street – AND Mama of TWO!

Jo talks to us about how she juggles being a Mum Boss, the Mini Maison concept and THOSE Blue Blahnik’s!

CB: Please introduce yourself and your concept.
JR: I’m Jo and I’m wife to Steve and Mum to Joshua and Sammy (4 and 2). Mini Maison, my company, sells modern décor for nurseries and children’s bedrooms.

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?
JR: Mini Maison came about through good old fashioned brain storming over the course of a few weeks. It wasn’t the first name that came to me but I knew that I’d change my mind a few times before settling on THE one… I was right – I went through Little House, Lilliput Décor and a few others before settling on Mini Maison!

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
JR: I started Mini Maison after I struggled to find modern décor for the nurseries I designed for my boys. I researched for a while (probably for too long, because I was so nervous to actually take the leap) and our virtual doors opened in 2015. The business is currently going through a period of change as we grow to incorporate ALL children’s décor and not just babies, because I realised that as my boys grew out of their baby years, I was STILL struggling to find the cool products I was looking for on the high street.

CB: What is your brand ethos?
JR: Mini Maison is the friendly place to shop if you’re looking for playful, modern design for your kids’ spaces; bedrooms, nurseries and playrooms. I’ll always do my best for my customers and try to make Mini Maison a place to go for good, accessible design.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
JR: My kids inspire me daily to be a better person. Sometimes this errs into mum guilt (see above) but I started Mini Maison so that I can be work and fulfil my ambitions AND be around to pick them up from school.

CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
JR: We’ve got a few new brands joining the Mini Maison family in the next few weeks… I can’t say too much but it includes these two absolute beauties (below).

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
JR: People will ALWAYS have an opinion, if you’ve asked for it or not. Go with your gut – Mama usually knows best. And… nap when the baby naps. This is a crucial one for me. Even if it’s not every day, you’ve got to make the most of a napping baby because the napping phase DOESN’T LAST! I know some people struggle with this but if you choose to tidy your house instead of sleeping when you’re knackered then I might think you’ve lost the plot a bit (I LOVE sleep – it’s my special skill, being able to sleep anywhere, anytime!)

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?
JR: When they were babies I had SO MANY must haves (that I then had to wean my children off of!): Ewan the Dreamsheep, Sleepyhead, dummies, swaddling suits (basically swaddles with zips on that meant we didn’t have to faff around with getting the tightness right – although they do look like straight jackets!). Now they’re older, we’re finding that they’re all about the night lights – sometimes more than one (good job Mummy has a never ending supply!). And an iPad – I think that one goes without saying, right!?

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mama-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
JR: Concealer – to cover breakouts and also the massive bags that are usually hanging around under my eyes!

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
JR: Time I spend working and not ‘being’ with my kids. Running your own businesses does sometimes spill over into ‘family time’ and I think this is inevitable. But I do feel bad that I’m sometimes replying to emails or dealing with last-minute problems when I’m meant to be paying attention to the boys. This means that I do put the TV on more often than I probably should, and I feel REALLY guilty about this.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
JR: I actually rarely feel like I zone-out or turn off. I’m almost constantly thinking about work – whether it’s new product ideas, new marketing techniques, listening to a podcast, let alone the actual work-work that goes into running a business. I’m desperately trying to tune out the voices in my head which are constantly chattering about the business. My husband and I try to have one evening a week where I’m not on my phone or laptop, and we just make a nice dinner and have a few drinks together. Also, seeing my bestest friends just helps me feel more centered (if a little hungover).

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
JR: Where do I start?! Iove Zara for clothes – I’m like a kid in a sweetshop and it’s great also for kids clothes too. I do try to buy from some smaller brands too, including Scamp and Dude and Fred & Noah for the boys. My friend Lucy runs Born at Dawn and she has curated a range of beautiful, timeless clothes that I want ALL of!

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
JR: I still have my wedding shoes, which are THE blue Manolo Blahnik shoes from Sex And The City. I try to wear them to events as often as I can (which is not very!) but to be honest I just like getting them out of the box and looking at them as they are just SO beautiful. In terms of things I actually wear regularly, you’ll almost always find me in a pair of skinny jeans. They’re my go-to-staple (even if they are on their way out of fashion).

MANOLO BLAHNIK // Blue Satin Pumps – £745.00

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
JR: Chocolate (it was Easter), fun and family.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
JR: I have a really thin skin and worry A LOT about what people think about me. People are always surprised to hear this because they think I’m really confident but on the inside I’m usually bricking it and worrying about how I come across. NB. This can lead me to talk a lot, often about a load of old shit!

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
JR: My husband is always doing kind things for me and is incredibly thoughtful and I feel blessed that I’ve surrounded myself with the most incredible friends and family… their kindness regularly sees me through the week. One particular occasion springs to mind, after I’d had my second baby (by c-section) and couldn’t drive or walk very far, my friend Catherine would come to my house and help bundle me and my boys into the car and take us out for the morning somewhere, so that I didn’t actually go insane stuck in the house.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
JR: Bad Moms – this was the last time I went to the cinema (I know… too long ago!) but oh my god, it is SO funny. It’s so good to spend your evening properly laughing out loud watching a film with a friend. Also, Amy Schumer’s autobiography is a brilliant read.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
JR: Our garden – and it’s just reminding me of all the work I want to get done on it before the summer officially arrives

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
JR: On a beach, with an endless supply of food and drink, with some shade available (I think this officially makes you a Mum when you can’t spend too long in the sun anymore!), and some books and magazines.

Loved chatting with you Jo – looking forward to seeing howMini Maison continues to progress, expand and inspire!

C

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Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for upcoming product launches by signing up to the Mini Maison newsletter and by following Mini Maison on Instagram: @MiniMaisonUK

#NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToMiniMaison

THE STORY

Welcome to Mini Maison, a shop offering modern and playful nursery and kids’ decor to style-concious consumers, wanting to look beyond the high street. Our carefully selected and curated products look equally good in a bedroom as they would in the rest of the home.

Started by an interiors-loving mum who gets inspiration from blogs and social media, she found it almost impossible to get her hands on the products that she was seeing online, in the UK, resulting in high shipping costs and problems with boring things like customs and import tax. And so Mini Maison was born. A simple idea; to bring you contemporary accessories for your little one’s bedroom, all the while offering unparalleled customer service and individual style.

Enjoy browsing and please do not hesitate to contact us should you need any assistance or have any queries. Oh, and please stop by regularly as we will be adding new products all the time.

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // Claire Packer | @NedInTheClouds

Meet Claire Packer – Mama,  founder of AUT:CTION, blogging the Autism journey of Ned, support to fellow Autism families and an avid Instagrammer at @NedInTheClouds.

Claire is one of the most inspirational people I’ve followed on Instagram. She is a mega-Mama (and thensome!) to wonderful brothers Ned & Kit, cooks amazing food, has a wardrobe of pretty awesome t-shirts and is refreshingly honest to boot!

Claire talks to us about where it all began, her inspirations and new projects on the horizon.

CB: Firstly, please introduce yourself and your ‘concept’
CP: I’m Claire. Not a concept as such but I write about Autism. I have a blog, a very exciting project on its way and I run support groups for parents of children with autism.

Lovely, lovely Ned.

CB: Usernames are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your online alias?
CP: I genuinely can’t remember choosing @nedintheclouds. Ned hadn’t been diagnosed then though and was tiny so it’s lovely that it describes him so well now. His head is always in the clouds.The name AUT:CTION came from my husband. I love it. It’s a PITA to type though and hashtags are always wrong*! Our new project uses the same AUT: concept. Against my better judgement!

CB: (Incase anyone wants clarification, the correct hashtag is #AUTCTION). 

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your blog?
CP: Instagram word allowance! I started writing about Ned’s journey on Instagram from the day he was diagnosed. I had a lot to say and the word allowance was smaller then. I transferred my posts to the blog and although I still talk about autism using IG, Ned In The Clouds is our real story.

The Packer family.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
CP: My family. They push me forward. They make me take steps I may not have taken and try things I might not have tried and their blind faith in me inspires me to be better and to try harder.

My friends. Especially those on a journey similar to ours. Strong, no bullshit women who have to fight for every little thing and who deal with things that they never expected and still laugh and joke and find the humour in this stuff. They, and their experiences have inspired my next project.

CB: AUT:CTION  is such an amazing way of raising awareness and funds for something so important, and close to your heart. How did the concept come about?
CP: The first AUT:CTION came together from initial idea to fruition in about 3 weeks! I had no idea what I was doing. There had never been anything like it before so I was making it up as I went along. I was, and still am, friends with some amazing brands and artists through Instagram. I sent lots of messages out one morning telling people about my idea and asking whether they’d like to be involved; and if they would like to donate goods to be auctioned. The messages came back in, yes, yes, yes. It would seem I would be having an auction! I was terrified. I needn’t have been though, we raised £3500 in a week. I couldn’t believe it. The second year I’d learned lots of lessons so it was smoother and less complicated and had different ways to be involved. We raised £13,500. This year was our best result yet and the total is currently around £13,800.

CB: I imagine AUT:CTION requires a lot of organising behind the scenes, this is your 3rd year, how has the process been this time?
CP: Good. I get more organised every year! I have spreadsheets and everything now (which, if you know me, is unbelievable). The hard part is the sheer amount of time it takes. I start at the beginning of January when the initial conversations with donators take place. Over the next three months I have about 75 continuous email conversations and spend a lot of time on my phone. Bringing it all together at the end so it’s good to go is a great feeling. Then there’s the promo stuff. Trying to come up with new ideas to get it out there and to engage people is a challenge. We seem to be doing ok though!

CB: What has surprised you the most about AUT:CTION?
CP: The kindness of strangers. It never fails to amaze me that someone will bid and pay £150 for a £100 shop voucher. Or bid hundreds of pounds for items they know they could buy for less. Or people who donate not just goods but their time to be auctioned. Or the people who are involved in a myriad of different ways. People are so incredibly generous and I am so incredibly thankful for it.

Brothers // Kit & Ned.

CB: What is your best piece of parenting advice?
CP: Children don’t need things. They need you. Slow down. Be with them. Enjoy them. They are utterly fascinating little things and will teach you an awful lot about the world. Follow their gaze. They have often spotted something you might have missed.

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?
CP: Honestly? I don’t think I have one now. I barely even carry a handbag. My Tula was essential when the boys were younger though. We didn’t use pushchairs so being able to chuck one up on my back was brilliant. Kit just wants to run everywhere now though. Our carrying days are over.

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mama-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
CP: My iPhone camera. I am probably guilty of taking too many pictures really. I do try to put it away and have been doing better at being in the moment rather than capturing the moment but seeing beautiful pictures of my children makes me happy. Time passes so quickly and you forget so much. I’m happy to have a record!

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
CP: I don’t really get Mum guilt. I could be better of course, I could be less grumpy when I’m tired and I could think of another activity or go to the park when I don’t want to but I’m just doing my best. I don’t feel guilt for being human. I fight hard so my children have everything they need (especially for Ned. Resources and support can often be a fight) and they are surrounded by love and laughter. No guilt here.

CB: “Me-time” is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
CP: It’s only now, after 5 years of this game that I’ve begun to take some time for myself. I made an active decision at the start of this year to stop saying no to things. The house isn’t going to fall apart if I spend the day with friends or go to lunch. I haven’t progressed to evenings out yet, that’s next!

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
CP: My favourite brands for the boys are probably Bobo Choses and Mingo. Oh and Young Double are our favourite for oversized tees with interesting prints and messages. I like them to wear things you won’t see in the street. They definitely have their own style. Ned has a smart/casual thing going on. Kit often looks like I’ve just pulled him out of a bin no matter what he’s wearing. He’s one of those kids. I secretly like him being a bit scruffy. It makes me laugh.

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
CP: I am a jeans and t-shirt person so I don’t have a lot of special pieces. I live in my DM’s though, does that count? Ooh, I do have a giant lilac fluffy coat I wish I had the chance to wear more often. I love that. (Both pieces are featured in the first image of Claire, above!)

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
CP: Exciting new adventure (we are house hunting).

The Packer family.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
CP: I haven’t eaten meat since the beginning of the year and have drastically reduced dairy. I am certain that a plant based diet is the healthiest option for us and can’t see us going back now.

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
CP: This year during AUT:CTION people began raising money alongside the auctions, just because they wanted to. Some gave the profits of a certain item they sell to us, some had their own auctions. Just off their own back! Just because. Real, proper acts of kindness.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
CP: The garden which is looking shockingly tidy but only because because the house is on the market!

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
CP: Hotel room. Room service. Book. Bed.

And finally… 

CP: Stay tuned for a new project from us aimed at parents and carers of children with autism coming soon. We are in talks about a magazine, maybe even some merch. Things are happening! Slowly but surely.

Also a final thank you to everyone who raised money for AUT:CTION this year. We made nearly 14k for Autism projects and the National Autistic Society and that has put the total raised over the 3 years we’ve been running at more than Thirty One Thousand Pounds. I am so proud to have been a part of it.

You can read our story at nedintheclouds.wordpress.com. A blog about Autism.

Until everyone understands.

If you’re not already, give @NedInTheClouds a follow on Instagram. Claire has such a beautiful feed – filled with (real life) snapshots of her boy’s , the most amazing eat’s and interior design heaven💘

Thank you so much for chatting with us Claire. You’re a wonderful human – with a wonderful family. It’s been a total joy to follow your feed and the journey for your whole family. I can’t wait to see/hear more about the new projects – such an exciting time for you all. Also, keep on with the Minimalism journey too… you’re so very brave! You really do need to come round and sort these rails out for me!
C
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#untileveryoneunderstands #Nedintheclouds #NeverKnowinglyConcise #NeverConciseChats #NeverConciseChatsToNedInTheClouds

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // LUCY KNIGHTS | Born At Dawn

Photo: Leonie Freeman Photography.

Meet Lucy Knights,  Founder of online concept store and personal shopping shopping experience – BORN AT DAWN

Lucy is bringing to you focused, effortless style with a personal touch. A brilliant concept that I’ve seen grow from idea to launch and beyond. (All whilst juggling being a Mum of two gorgeous girls – that’s Mum-Boss inspiration right there!)

We talk to Lucy about the ideas behind Born At Dawn, the meaning behind the brand name and there’s also a treat for our readers in there too!

CB: Please introduce yourself and your concept.
LK: I’m a Northern girl that calls London home and has done for the last 13 years. I grew up in Warrington, Cheshire but these days I live in Walthamstow with my husband Adam and my 2 little girls, Lilia and Pixie Rose. As well as spending time with my family, when I get chance I love playing the host and entertaining- I love bringing our friends together.

I’ve always loved fashion retail, ever since I got my first part time job in a boutique near where I lived (It was in a chain called Morgan if any of you remember it?). I loved clothes, the customers, the buzz and how every day was different. I was always drawn back to it, so following doing a Business Degree at Sheffield University, I completed a Retail Management Graduate Scheme, was a manager at GAP’s flagship store and then spent 8 years at Harrods driving their Womenswear sales and strategy.

I launched BORN AT DAWN at the end of February this year. The mission is to bring focused, effortless style with a personal touch. The collection is mostly Scandinavian and French inspired brands and is centred around wardrobe heroes- beautiful, easy-to-wear clothes that can take you from day to night. All the pieces can be worn multiple times and in different ways, giving you endless options.

A “Night In” experience in also available in selected parts of London for customers that prefer to touch and feel the product before buying. A chance to book in an evening for us to bring the collection to you so that you can invite your friends over for a catch up, have a glass of Prosecco and shop all in the luxury of your own home.

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?
LK: It is incredibly hard to choose a brand name! The reason I liked BORN AT DAWN is because it had multifaceted meanings behind it that were special to me. In business terms, it represents our focus on the birth of a new way to shop that suits women’s lives. On a personal level, the name Lucy means born at dawn, both of my children were born at dawn (early in the morning) and the launch of my business and the start of my entrepreneurial journey is a new beginning for me too.

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
LK: Listening to other women’s frustrations with shopping (and my own!). It’s easier to dedicate lots of time to shopping and fashion when you are younger, for instance in your early twenties, but as we get older and have more responsibilities, things change. When your life gets busier and more demanding due to our career and/or children, you have less time to dedicate to it. You still want to look good but your style changes slightly- you need more versatile, easy-to-wear, good quality pieces that work well together to make dressing straightforward.

We all know there are great high street stores like Zara that are accessible but as most women know- once you find a great piece there, before you know it all your friends will all have it and it will be all over your Instagram feed by the next week. There are mass market websites like ASOS, but who has time to browse 4000 options for just a black dress? They are catering for so many different customers now that it’s overwhelming. I wanted to focus on harder to find, more exclusive brands and build a collection of beautiful clothes that suit busy women’s lives.

The “Night In” service was devised after interviewing women about their shopping habits as many said they still liked to touch and feel the product before buying but couldn’t dedicate time to visiting the shops.

CB: What is your brand ethos?
LK: It’s about always being positive and celebrating real women wearing our clothes in their everyday life. The BORN AT DAWN customer is confident and knows their own mind. She doesn’t want to be a slave to trends or have other people always dictating what she should wear that season. She loves clothes and wants to look good but simply wants to wear what she likes and feels comfortable in.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
LK: Other women inspire me all the time- friends and all the people I have met along the way on the BORN AT DAWN  journey. People who are down-to-earth, positive, work hard, follow their hearts and are focusing on their own version of success whatever that may be.

CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
LK: I’m always working on future events as love getting out there and meeting our customers. We’ve done some great pop up exclusive shopping events over the past couple of months and we’ve got much more in the pipeline for 2017. The best way to keep up to date is by following the BORN AT DAWN Instagram and subscribing to our newsletter.

Lucy at the recent BORN AT DAWN pop-up event at Southwood Stores
Photo: Shaneen Rosewarne Cox

 

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
LK: Don’t focus so much on the birth. Of course, you need to do a little research when pregnant but don’t make it your main focus. The birth is over relatively quickly and the midwife can help you with that but then you have a child to bring up for life, so maybe spend a bit more time researching/thinking about that instead. I was pretty clueless and hadn’t spent much time around babies so I have spent the last 4 years either going by instinct or frantically googling!

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?
LK: I’ve learnt to pack quite lightly with kids now and they’re a bit older so I wouldn’t say I need much apart from some changing stuff and spare clothes (vital!) I always have a few kid’s games downloaded on to my phone too in case of emergency- sometimes it’s necessary if they are playing up somewhere they shouldn’t be.

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mama-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
LK: Wine. There’s nothing I love better than a glass on a Friday night at the end of the week.

CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
LK: I don’t often get Mum Guilt but I recently did just before the launch of BORN AT DAWN when the girls were in nursery a lot and family were helping me out with childcare quite a bit too. I missed them! The only way I’ve found to get around Mum guilt is to try and be focused in the moment when I’m with them. I don’t think the important thing is the quantity of time but the quality of time when you are with them. The times I feel bad are when I’ve been focused on other things whilst looking after them and that’s often when they will play up too. Sometimes it’s hard though when you’re self-employed- its inevitably going to overlap from time to time. We just have to do our best, that’s all we can do.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
LK: My guilty pleasures are KUWTK and Loose Women. I like nothing better than watching one of them when I’m home alone and have an hour spare!

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
LK: Since launching BORN AT DAWN, I’ve only worn pieces from the collection. I curated it to suit busy women’s lives so it’s perfect for me.

In terms of shoes and accessories- I don’t buy often but I buy good quality. Shoes are so much more comfortable if you pay that little bit more and my designer bags have always lasted for years. I love Isabel Marant, Bimba and Lola for shoes; and Givenchy and Alexander Wang for bags.

For the girls, I like quirky Scandinavian brands like Molo and Bang Bang Copenhagen.

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
LK: I love my leopard biker jacket from Mads Norgaard; it makes any outfit feel special. I love how soft the leather is and I’ve always been partial to leopard print so it’s perfect.

Leopard Print Jacket – Mads Norgaard – £430.00 //  BORN AT DAWN

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
LK: Slow, Tired, Hard.

I had a bit of a rubbish day yesterday- today is much better. I love going to The Yes Mum Moon Clubs and something she talks about is following your energy flow. Some days you feel rubbish and tired, sometimes you feel on top of the world and you can take on anything. That’s just the way we work as women so I try and not feel bad when I have those kind of days-its normal and I know I will be on track again soon.

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
LK: My oldest daughters Lilia’s middle name is Butterfly. I love it but no one believes her when she tells them! Hopefully she likes it when she’s older!

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
LK: My parents are the kindest people I know. Despite being on the other side of the country, I always know that if I needed them they would drop everything to be there. I couldn’t name one time as there have been so many but they constantly amaze me with their support and love. I hope that I can make my girls feel the same way.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
LK: I liked “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I loved the concept of creative ideas appearing to you as a gift and if you don’t take them, moving on to the next person.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
LK: My garden and my daughter’s snail collection. We will get her a real pet one day soon!

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
LK: I am desperate for a holiday but don’t think it will happen for us this year with the business launch. One of my favourite places is Ibiza in summer so I would love to be there. I’ve been many times and it holds many special memories for me.

A NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE TREAT

Lucy has kindly offered the following code for free delivery on any order: FREEDELIVERY

AND a special rate of £39.95 for a “Night In” service if you are in the catchment area*

*Currently available in most of North and East London and selected parts of Essex. Other areas may be available on request.

Loved chatting with you Lucy. It’s been a total pleasure getting to know you over the last year or so – and watching your BORN AT DAWN concept grow from idea to a beautiful and wonderful business! Congratulations my darling – hope to see you soon!

C

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Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for upcoming BORN AT DAWN events by signing up to the newsletter and follow Lucy on  Instagram: @BornAtDawn_

#NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToBornAtDawn

THE STORY

There once was a girl who enjoyed shopping for clothes. It was a pastime, a hobby, something she enjoyed… 

Then she got a little older. Now she has more responsibilities and demands on her time and the enjoyment starts to wane. Her life has changed and so has her style. She needs a different wardrobe. She needs outfits that will take less thought, are easy to put together and ones that can take her from day to night. She needs the pieces she buys to be versatile, to last, look great and she wants to wear them multiple times and in different ways. 

She tries the mass market online websites but they are trying to cater for so many customers that she gets 3908 options for just a black dress. She tries a shopping centre but there is no atmosphere and it’s hot and busy. She manages to discover an amazing jacket at a popular high street store but within a week it feels like every single person on her Instagram feed is also wearing it. She tries to follow catwalk trends but it’s hard to find the time, and by now she knows what suits her. She simply wants to wear things she loves rather than being dictated to. 

The perfect solution would be to spend hours browsing independent stores but it’s impossible. So before things go from bad to worse and she runs the risk of ending up in a changing room in her underwear on TV being made over by Gok Wan, we decided to step in. 

We have spent the last year researching brands and travelling across Europe to discover harder to find, more exclusive brands and buying beautiful pieces that can be worn multiple times and in different ways so you have endless options. We hope you love the collection as much as we do. X
 

 

 

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NEVER KNOWINGLY CONCISE CHATS TO // MARK LEMON | Lemon Drop Books

 

Photo: EMILY GRAY PHOTOGRAPHY.

Meet Mark Lemon, the Founder & Author of independent Children’s Book publishers, Lemon Drop Books. Award winning Children’s Book Publishers, no less!  Disillusioned with the lack of diversity in Children’s books, Mark Lemon (with two mixed-race children of his own) decided to create a series of exciting story books with non-white characters. With thrilling tales and beautiful adventures, the Otis & Thea Lemon series is fast becoming a firm favourite in family households.

We talk to Mark about some exciting collaborations, a cause close to his heart and exceptionally important campaigns, – including #diversechildrensbooksuk.  Plus, what happened when Mark had a previous role in Silver service?!

CB: Please introduce yourself and your concept.
ML: My name is Mark Lemon. I am the Founder & Author at independent children’s book publishers, Lemon Drop Books.

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?
ML: With a name like Mark Lemon, we had to fit Lemon in somewhere! Lemon Drop Books seemed to have a memorable ring to it.

CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept?
ML: I have always enjoyed writing, but never thought to do it as a career. After our first child was born, I had the idea of writing Otis’ very own adventures. We quickly noticed a lack of children’s books featuring non-white protagonists. I wanted to find books that the kids could look at and relate to and imagine themselves being a part of. So, in an effort to diversify children’s literature, I created my own.

CB: What is your brand ethos?
ML: Our brand ethos is to create beautiful and diverse children’s books, which all children can enjoy across the world.

CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you?
ML: On a day-to-day basis my kids inspire me. Creating Lemon Drop Books was for them, building a legacy for their futures. I am inspired by people who are brave enough to go it alone, grabbing their careers by both hands. Don’t get me wrong it’s tough, but the great thing about Instagram is the supportive network that shouts from the social sidelines, cheering you on! My main inspiration is my family.

CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up?
ML: Look out for my collaboration with the brilliant parent merch Mama, Mother Like No Other coming very soon. Using our Dad slogan, ‘I Dad It My Way’ we are releasing a t-shirt for the lead up to Fathers Day. From every t-shirt sold we will donate the proceeds to the amazing bereavement charity, Winston’s Wish. This is a charity close to my heart due to losing my father suddenly at the age of 12. Please keep your eyes peeled and join us to support this great cause.


We’re hoping to soon kick off our campaign promoting diverse children’s books across the UK. Across the UK there is a greater need for diversity in children’s literature in the mainstream. Over the previous two years a good friend of ours, Marley Dias, has been promoting her 1000 Black Girl Books campaign across America; meeting Barack & Michelle Obama at the Whitehouse and carrying out interviews on all major television stations. I would like to bring a similar campaign to the UK #diversechildrensbooksuk. We will be asking authors, publishers and organisations across the country to donate to us their diverse children’s books. Once we’ve received the donated books, we will then distribute to a large number of schools, filling that gap in the school Libraries.

CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice?
ML: SLEEP! Sleep as much as you can pre child. More importantly, just relax and enjoy the early years.

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?
ML: Snacks. ALWAYS make sure you have some form of food to plug the shopping aisle or bus meltdown! Children get hangry just as much as adults, if not more.

CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Papa-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without?
ML: It would have to be my phone.

CB: What gives you ‘Dad-Guilt’? And how do you get round it?
ML: Using my phone too much is probably my main ‘Dad-Guilt’. I’m sure this is happening across the parenting land, but I do need to remind myself to put my phone down and listen to the children. My wife is very good at letting me know when to STOP.

CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out?
ML: Just sitting down and listening to music is usually a good zone-out for me. Basically, anything that allows me to shut off my brain. My mind is constantly trying to think of new ways to get our books out there.

CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops?
ML: I love brands like AllSaints, Reiss and for a long time my footwear only consisted of Nike Air Max 1’s (still does). I’ve got to shout out the brilliant Parent Apparel ladies for their Dad-merch. My most comfortable chill out jumper has to be my ‘Breaking Dad’ sweat – go check them out!

CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why?
ML: It would have to be the AllSaints denim shirts. The fit is really comfortable and they age well.

CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday.
ML: Holidays, sunshine, kids!

CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people.
ML: I worked at Claridge’s Hotel in London as a silver service waiter. At the end of a shift I was taking dirty plates and cutlery down to the basement. I was waiting for the service lift when a lady wearing sunglasses and a very large minder came out of the lift. It was Mariah Carey and her bodyguard. “Good evening.” she said. I think I mumbled something like, “Yes it is.” It was good fun working at Claridge’s.

CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you?
ML: I would have to say that one of the kindest things that someone has done for me is to support me through a very difficult time when I was a teenager. Throughout your life you meet people that keep you on the right course, offering amazing support. The kindest acts are generally the selfless shows of support.

CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year.
ML: I discovered the Robert Glasper Experiment last summer. He’s a brilliant musician with a great style.

CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view?
ML: I can see a main road. I’m currently in a café drinking coffee. Yep, I’m one of those guys on his laptop with his headphones on.

CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why?
ML: Probably sat on a sunny beach in Jamaica, drinking a bottle of red stripe.

Loved chatting with you Mark! Really hope to catch you at an event sometime soon! Wishing you lots of luck for your impending busy ventures!

C

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Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for those incredibly important causes and campaigns that Mark has highlighted. You can follow Mark on Instagram: @LemonDropBooks, Facebook and via his website: Lemon Drop Books; where you can also find the wonderful Otis & Thea Lemon books for purchase too.

#NeverConciseChats #ClaireChatsToLemonDrop

 

 

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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

C

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