Blade and Rose stock a great range of innovative and funky childrenswear, but are maybe best known for their range of leggings (for little boys too). We caught up with designer and mum Amanda to find out more about her company.
SM: Where does the design inspiration come from?
Amanda: There are many children’s themes , however an idea doesn’t always look as good on paper. An idea starts to develop once the designs are drawn and tweaked many times.
The Jessie and James story begins as a love affair across the cutting room floor at Vivienne Westwood, where they both worked. A little while (and son Billy) later their quirky-luxe childrenswear label was born, incorporating tartans and deconstructed tailoring and Victoriana – essentially taking the dreams of the dressing up box and incorporating them into hardworking, everyday fashion.
We caught up with Jessie and James for a chat…
SM: Thanks for taking the time to talk to do this interview. Where do we fit in your schedule today?
Jessie & James:We are currently just finalising the collection for AW16 and completing a new order for Selfridges who are stocking us this season, which we are very excited about!
SM: What’s on your mood board at the moment?
Jessie & JamesLots of Ballet Russe images, Renaissance paintings and studies of flowers and design ideas for future collections. Basically, things we like to look at!
SM: Which are your bestselling items?
Jessie & James:The Squiggle dress is always one of our best-sellers. It was actually the first girl’s dress we designed and today, it is still loved by our customers and now has become our signature piece.
For AW15 one of our favourite pieces is our Princess Coat and we hope our customers love it as much as we do! It really is fit for a princess – it has a very regal look and it epitomises what we are all about here at Jessie and James. It has a clever historical cut but with a twist. It has the most beautiful shape from the back which creates an amazing silhouette.
SM: And which items are Billy’s favourites?
Jessie & James:Billy being a boy loves the easy to wear jersey boys’ styles, particularly the Seekers trousers and Billy blazer jacket. His favourite pieces normally have badges on them and he adores his new parka coat, he thinks he is an explorer, so it’s perfect for him!
SM: What are your biggest challenges, running the business?
Jessie & James:To be honest, as we have grown over the years, the biggest challenges are working with our factories to ensure the collections retain our high level of standards in terms of quality. We also need to make sure that all the goods arrive in good time to our retailers, so there’s a lot to juggle! The warehouse is also a big challenge for us, especially since our sales have continued to rise and the volume of daily shipments has increased. But… we have a wonderful team in place who help us to make sure the process runs smoothly both for ourselves but also for our customers and we have more time available to focus on the collections and other areas like marketing.
SM: And your proudest moment…?
Jessie & James:It has to be the fact that we started out by designing a small collection of baby and kidswear from our home in London and soon after we launched, Liberty London ordered our collection – we felt this was such a huge compliment for such a young brand! We’re hugely grateful to our retailers for stocking us and I’m proud to say we’re also stocked in Harvey Nichols and Childrensalon, with plans to expand internationally.
SM: We’ve spotted a few celeb kids rocking Jessie & James, who would you love to see wearing it?
Jessie & James:We like Gwen Stefani’s style so it would be great to see her boys in Jessie and James!
SM: What’s next for the brand?
Jessie & James:We plan to keep our growth continuing and to develop Jessie and James into a lifestyle rather than just a brand. Launching our first London flagship store is part of this five-year plan.
Poco Nido is a Sheffield-based little people’s clothing and footwear brand featuring bright, exclusive and well-designed items for stylish kids. We loved the range, which includes cheerful, adorable characters including company ‘mascot’ Ludwig the owl.
Poco Nido was founded in 2011 by Catherine Lobley, a busy working mum who was inspired to create her own unique and functional baby clothing and footwear line after working as a footwear designer in London.
We caught up with Catherine (and colleague Joanna) to find out more about the business.
SM: Where does the design inspiration come from?
Catherine Lobley:My children inspire me, all the childhood things they love and books, we love an illustrated book in our house, pictures can say so much without barriers. Travel in the Far East a lot with previous jobs has also made a huge impact on my taste levels. Basically what you see on the shoes is what happens in my head and luckily I found a creative director who seems to be exactly on the same wave length and level of quirkiness.
SM: Which is your best selling item?
Catherine Lobley:Owls, anything with owls, people are crazy for the owls. Mostly the mini shoes which are our core items.
SM: And which do your own children like best?
Catherine Lobley:My kids love everything, they’ve both taken part on early photo shoots enthusiastically, they have sneakers and t shirts and they voluntarily and proudly take every large public gathering as an opportunity to wear their kit. My son had every size of ankle welly as he grew up. He’s now five but would have been sporting a bonnet if he could have fitted his head into one. Jo has an adorable niece who also adores Poco Nido, her favourite item is the owls hi-top sneakers. These three kids are probably Poco Nido’s biggest fans.
SM: What has been your biggest challenge, running the business?
Catherine Lobley:Actually running the business. I am a designer by trade. I have learnt everything about running the business by actually doing it. If we had 3 wishes we’d spend them on more time, more sleep and more staff.
SM: And your proudest moment?
Catherine Lobley:It’s yet to happen. We have distribution all over the globe but the one thing yet to achieve is a shop in the UK. Real feel good moments are when we see kids wearing our shoes, or when all the new stock comes in and we open the boxes for the first time.
SM: What’s next for the business?
Catherine Lobley:That’s top secret, sorry. We’re growing -that’s all you’re getting :-).
SM: And finally (we had to ask) any plans to get a girlfriend for Ludwig the owl?
Catherine Lobley: Ludwig has a wife already, so I don’t think he’d be very pleased about that! A lot of the original placement print garments featured 4 owls. They are Ludwig’s family, it was originally supposed to represent my family –if you look carefully you will see that the mummy owl has her eyes open while the rest of the family sleep. A private joke about the fact that I take care of everyone while they daydream (or I think I do, I’m sure my husband would see things differently).
Editor’s pick: we love Poco Nido’s tribute to their hometown with this map of Sheffield baby blanket.
Entrepreneurial best friends Jonny and Daniel came up with the concept for My 1st Years when a friend of theirs had a baby girl and they were stumped for the perfect gift. A bit of creativity later and baby Lara was the proud owner of some personalised shoes – and a business was born. We caught up with MD Daniel Price to find out more.
SM: What was your background before setting up My 1st Years?
Daniel Price:I was always interested in running my own business, even at school I was selling Diet Cokes in the playground for a profit! At secondary school I did a business studies course where we bought clothes and sold them at a profit so I guess that was the beginning of my interest in selling clothes. By the time I was 18 I realised that I wanted to be my own boss and run a business and I was always thinking of new ideas for businesses that had a unique selling point, particularly in the clothing sector. I then studied at Leeds Business School, where I continued to buy and sell clothing to students, for 3 years which was a way of gaining knowledge and honing my skills to ensure that I could achieve my ambitions. During my time at University, I also managed 4 weekly events for students. This was a success and I then started to look over the events in Manchester and Newcastle too. In January 2009 I had the idea of My 1st Years after I struggling in vain to find an interesting, personalised gift for my baby cousin. After this I contacted my friend Jonny Sitton (who I had bought and sold the clothes with at university) and we started to research the market in personalised children’s gifts and realised that there was a gap in the market for this.
SM: Which are your bestselling products?
Daniel Price:As the brand started with the ‘My 1st Shoes’ concept our personalised range of High top trainers and sheepskin booties sell extremely well and we are proud that our core hero product is enjoying so much success, which we believe is a tribute the unique concept. Our personalised hooded towels are also extremely popular and our now extensive range of personalised blankets, which range from cashmere to cable knit.
SM: And which products do your own family like best?
Daniel Price:My family love the high top trainers as these were the original product we started the company with, and the range as grown so fast.
SM: What are your biggest challenges running the business?
Daniel Price:Growing pains. Growing the business is always a challenge as it requires a lot of cash investment to grow a brand and ensure that everything is up to a high standard and in keeping with the company’s mission statement. Managing teams is always a challenge as you tend to come across an array of people with different skills and talents and motivating and nurturing these key members of staff is vital for us, after all a company is only as good as its work force.
SM: And what has been your proudest moment?
Daniel Price:My proudest moment was getting into Selfridges and seeing the My 1st Years range in the store I have loved and admired for so many years! This was an amazing feeling, we really felt like we had ‘arrived’.