Category Archives: Interviews

SM chats to… Mark Salter, Founder of for aisha

Not only are for aisha’s halal baby food pouches loved by over two million tiny tummies but also (sssh – top tip) they make wonderful seasoning for grown-up dishes too! They recently launched their Stage 3 meals (for 10+ months) and we caught up with Founder and Recipe Developer Mark Salter to find out what makes the brand so special.

Was there a ‘lightbulb moment’ when you came up with the brand concept?

MS: Yes. I have over 20 years experience of working in the UK food and drinks industry for larger companies and managing the UK supermarket chains. I love exotic food and travel so when I was interviewed for a position with Plum Baby Food, I realised that there was a need to add some flair into the baby foods that were on offer. Many brands were doing the same thing; offering pasta and fish dishes that could be easily cooked by parents themselves. So I set about creating recipes that were more complex, time-consuming and ultimately more expensive for parents to make. Thereby offering a healthy wide variety of exotic ingredients in a convenient pouch format.

The ‘research’ sounds like the best adventure holiday ever! Was there a favourite place you visited to source recipe ideas?

MS: Well, there were several trips over several years. We just visited France last month and took some inspiration for our new Lamb Ragout. My favourite destination was certainly Cambodia because it was our honeymoon – our new Cambodian Fish & Coconut Curry launches in early 2018. We’ve been testing it all year! It’s the best.

What was the first for aisha recipe created?

MS: The first recipe that we decided to take to production was Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Mango. We were tasting some early ideas at our local nursery schools and noticed that the next day on their menu was a Jerk Chicken. I was surprised that nurseries were cooking such exotic dishes and that little one’s loved them. It was mainly tapioca puddings when we were younger! The Jerk Chicken is one of our best selling pouch meals now.

Was it difficult to find a meat supplier that complied with your brand values?

MS: It took some time as we wanted the best we are proud to say all our meat is Red Tractor and from leading British farms. Baby food production is very closely monitored and highly regulated (and rightly so) from start to finish.

Which are your best selling products?

MS: We’ve already sold 2 million meals in the UK and Chicken & Sweet Potato Curry is the clear leader. It’s an Indian inspired recipe with red lentils and a wide range of herbs specially created for little tummies. Ingredients such as sweet potato and turmeric are becoming more relevant for parents because of their proven health benefits and it’s lovely to know that we’re pioneering that development.

And which is your ‘post paddle boarding fave’ snack?

MS: We did always take the pouches with us on the paddle boards but since we brought out the new Stage3 Date & Apricot Tagine with Lamb, I eat those from the tray. It’s my personal favourite and so we’ve decided to taste them with parents at the Baby Show Olympia later this month. We’ll have a few thousand samples for parents to try which is really exciting – parents should always try the food first in my opinion.

What considerations went into developing the Stage 3 range?

MS: We’d been asked to create bigger meals for some time with more texture and ‘chunks’ for bigger infants. It’s important part of the weaning process to aid the development of chewing and swallowing and chewing is even thought to help with speech development. The meals were designed to be different from all others on the market so I wanted to work with exotic ingredients such as dates, quinoa, fenugreek and cumin. The dishes are always mild for little ones but they are so certainly different, exotic and exciting, still offering the ‘world of variety’ and adventure that is at the heart of the for aisha range.

It must be a wonderful achievement to supply Great Ormond St… How did this partnership come about?

MS: The head dietitian of Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children wrote to us and said that she loved our recipes. We get lovely letters from parents but it was exceptional to receive such high praise that day. We now supply their wards and also their shops with our healthy natural for aisha pouches.

Any advice for a parent who might be worried that the for aisha range might be ‘too adventurous’ for their child’s palate?

MS: Try a little for yourselves and you’ll see that they are very mild. It’s all about introducing a wide variety of tastes. We don’t use ingredients like chilli so they’re not hot at all. With 2 million meals sold, lots of food awards and lovely reviews from bloggers and parents, you can be well assured that they’re just right for little ones. Our full range is dairy free, low in salt, dietitian-approved and many recipes are also gluten free which is why parents, as well as hospitals, love them.

And finally…We could spend hours looking at Nargisse’s Instagram feed… Are there any plans to create meals (or preserved lemons!) for grown-ups?

MS: I love Nargisse’s grown up recipes. She’s an amazing chef. At for aisha, we love making recipes especially for little ones to take them on a ‘taste adventure’ during their early years. We have many more recipes planned and introducing fun grown-up tastes are a big part of that.

Find your nearest for aisha stockist here.

Career advice from Henry Holland (and his Mum)

image: Metro

Ahead of his LFW show HH shared a few words of career advice…

What made you decide to create your own brand? It all started with your iconic collection of slogan t-shirts…

I was working in magazines and I absolutely loved it. I actually had no intention of creating anything that would change my career path. I just started making t-shirts for my friends and me to wear as a personal project. I think the authenticity and grassroots nature of the work really resonated with people and the industry – it took off quite quickly! It was very much an idea I had for my friends and I which worked on a wider scale, but that was never my intention and I think that’s why it worked. I think if I had a preconceived marketing strategy to launch the shirts in the way that I launched them, it would have been interpreted as unauthentic and wouldn’t have resonated in the same way. It all happened for a reason.

Do you want to create a lifestyle brand? Is this in the pipeline?

Yes, for sure. That’s definitely one of the things that I still have to do. Since day one, I’ve always approached House of Holland as a brand and I’ve never considered myself a young designer. I didn’t use my name for House of Holland because I’ve always seen what I’m doing as being about a brand, rather than it being about me. My outlook is that its very much team effort and there’s still so many different product categories and so many areas I want to work in. Watch this space!

Where do you obtain your inspiration from?

That’s a very difficult question to answer. I think as a creative person you’re sort of like a sponge. You’re constantly absorbing different ideas and concepts and trying to reconfigure them in your head to a way you can translate them through your work – that comes from all different places. I really like to reference films and fictional characters because I love the characterization of fashion. I love the way that you can use clothes to really tell the story of a character almost as much as dialogue.

When you look back on your career, what do you feel was your big break?

My big break was a happy accident like my entrance into the fashion industry. I made t-shirts with the names of fashion designers on them and I gifted them to my friends, some of those friends were the designers who were the names on the t-shirts. People first saw my t-shirts because Gareth Pugh was wearing it for work and he was so busy he didn’t have time to get changed after his fashion show. Gareth was wearing my t-shirt the night before his fashion show and he worked through the night so he was still wearing it when he came out for his bow at the end of fashion week!  I think it was fate and very much meant to be. I believe in that type of thing.

What was the best piece of advice you were given when you started out in your career?

I think the best advice I had was to remain very authentic and true to who I am. I’m staying really strong on that with what I want to do and say with my work. I think people really forgot the fashion industry is an objective industry. One person’s favorite dress can be another person’s most hideous piece of clothing that’s ever been put out there. You have to remember that not everyone’s going to like everything that you do. So if you build your brand, build your company on a very strong set of rules and a strong DNA, then however much people like or dislike what you do then you can always remain true and authentic to what it is you set out to say in the first place.

Do you manage to keep a good work/life balance? 

I keep an exceptional work/life balance and that’s partly because I love what I do so much. I’m very happy when I’m at work so I very rarely feel the differentiation between work and life. I also get to choose the people who I work with and I choose those people very carefully. I have one of the best jobs in the world and I think that helps you remain positive and happy in what you do.

What do you do to relax/switch off?

To relax or switch off I exercise because its probably one of the only times my brain thinks about something over than my work. I think when you run your own company, it’s very hard to switch on and off. People ask what hours do you work and the answer to that is the moment my eyes are awake to the time my eyes are closed. Exercise is kind of my chance to switch off. I run a lot and it’s good. Except when I ran two marathons, that wasn’t so good. That was too far. There’s running and then there’s running. That was running.

Who have been the mentors/people you have worked with who have been the biggest influence on your career?

My parents have been a massive influence on my career. My parents work in very different industries – my Dad is very traditional and runs his own law firm while my Mum runs a château and a training company in positive thought. My Mum runs training courses on meditation and relaxation, she’s very spiritual like that. My parents are at two completely opposite ends of the spectrum, but they both have the exact same approach in that whatever it is I told them I wanted to be, you couldn’t ask anyone to be more supportive as long as I had the conviction and the drive to do it. They would have been happy if I’d have been a bin man as long as I’d worked my way up to driving the truck. That was their approach. It was like just be you and be good at it.

When did you first realise you wanted to be Henry Holland, the fashion designer? 

Still waiting! I don’t really see myself as Henry Holland the fashion designer. I think you just get on with your day-to-day work and your role. I think if you were to pause the TV and ask ‘can we have a chat about Henry Holland?’ you’d be a bit of a d**k. So I try to not focus on any of that. I try to get on with what I’m doing and work hard. I don’t pay attention to anything like that whatsoever. It puts me on any pedestal to says things like Henry Holland ‘the fashion designer’.

What would be your advice to anyone starting out wanting to make a career in fashion?

It would be to find that authenticity and what it is you want to say with your work. There’s so many brands out there and there’s so many different things going on in the fashion industry, it’s hard to cut through the noise. It was much easier for me ten years ago. I think its really about ensuring you’ve got something to say that is unique and different. The way you communicate that is so important. Just stay very true and authentic to yourself because its so much extra work if you’re having to be something you’re not. That’s a job in itself.

What skills do you think are most important to be a success in fashion? 

You need to be tenacious; have drive to succeed; passion in your work; commit to what you want; a fearlessness to stick with it, and creativity to deliver.

What career advice would today’s 34 y/old Henry Holland give to the 18 y/old Henry Holland?

I would definitely say don’t threat too much about your first few jobs. My Mum always taught me that you’ll have seven different careers in your life. I don’t think you should put so much pressure on your first job or two because I think that some people need longer to find out who they are and what they want to do. It doesn’t always happen for everybody during university or during college. It’s important to go out there and experience the world and formulate your life plan from that. There’s no rush.

“Henry Holland was speaking on behalf of online job boards totaljobs and Milkround in their latest campaign around achieving a healthier work-life balance”

The Lowdown: The Library of Fragrance

With the sad news that one of our fave brands is closing its UK distribution, we’re running the interview we did with them a little while ago so that you can read it whilst you bag yourself a bargain in their closing down sale...

We chatted to MARK CRAMES, CEO & Chief Perfumer, The Library of Fragrance

SM: How did the brand come about?

MC: The concept for Library of Fragrance was first developed by Christopher Brosius – a perfumer who hates perfume! Brosius had worked as a New York cab driver in the 1980s – a decade synonymous with many notoriously overpowering fragrances. Finding the clouds of his clientele’s perfumes too much to bear, Brosius set out to launch his own collection of single note fragrances that would, quite simply, capture and celebrate the wonderful smells that surround us in everyday life.  

SM: In the 90s the fragrances were quite quirky, right?

MC: Outside of Europe, The Library of Fragrance is known as Demeter and the brand just celebrated its 20th birthday, last year. The first three scents to launch in New York, in 1996, were Dirt, Grass, and Tomato. From there the ‘library’ of fragrance expanded rapidly and in the brand’s native USA, there are now over 300 scents to choose from. Over 100 of these are currently available in the UK within The Library of Fragrance – ranging from the expected, like Jasmine, to the completely unexpected, like Play-Doh.

SM: But now there seem to be a lot more ‘elegant’ ones?

MC: Whilst there are many quirky and unusual fragrances in the collection, as a brand, we strive to celebrate the scents of objects and experiences from life – no matter how odd or unusual – and ‘bottle’ them in wearable fragrance form. Colognes within the library range from the expected, like Jasmine and Bulgarian Rose, to the unusual, like Rain and Gin & Tonic, to the completely unexpected, like Thunderstorm and Play-Doh! We don’t discriminate – if you can smell it and it’s a pleasant smell – at least to some people – we’ll try to make it!

SM: Which are your best selling fragrances?

MC: Our best-seller in the UK – and indeed globally, is Baby Powder, which is inspired by the iconic scent of Johnson & Johnson baby talc. The scent of baby powder commonly makes those of us, from a certain generation in the western world, feel calm and cosseted. ‘Baby Powder’ is the best-selling The Library of Fragrance scent in the UK and enjoys a top three position globally, and this wouldn’t be the case if only those who had cared for young children and used baby powder were associating with it. Our olfactory system is the first to develop and we have a fully functioning sense of smell by the time we are twelve weeks old in the womb. This compares to our visual system, which takes several years after we are born to become mature enough to store and recall visual memories.  This likely means that whilst we may not have visual memories of baby powder, our brain connects the scent of baby powder to when we were cradled, soothed and cared for by our own parents & guardians. Interesting, Our Baby Powder cologne is not our best-seller in Germany, where the market-leading baby talc has a different fragrance.

 Other fragrances can be very popular in some countries and cultures, and not in others. Gin & Tonic, for example, is our third best-seller in the UK, enjoying significantly better success than in other countries where it is also available.  Naturally, this makes sense because Gin & Tonic is a popular drink in the UK.

SM: Are there any that you are surprised are so popular?

MC: Yes! We are constantly taken by surprise and we often have no idea about how popular a new fragrance is going to be before we launch it. A good example is Pixie Dust cologne; it’s a great fragrance, but we didn’t really expect it to sell at the rate it did, because it’s not really in line with the brand’s habit of creating ‘tangible’ scents (alas, we haven’t smelt actual Pixie Dust!) – but it obviously speaks to the more whimsical amongst us, and if anyone could prove what Pixie Dust actually smells like, I’m quite sure that our cologne would hit the mark. That said, we believe that the best-performing fragrances for us are those that tick at least three of the following boxes:

  • An enjoyable, long-wearing scent
  • Recognisable and ‘tangible’ to many different people
  • Relates to commonly held, positive memories
  • Represents a ‘thing’ that can remind us of people and their interests, hobbies or personalities, making it an ideal gift (ie: our Baby Powder and New Baby colognes are often bought for expectant mothers and our Gin & Tonic is very popular at Christmas – possibly because everyone knows someone whose favourite tipple is its namesake!)

SM: What inspires a new fragrance and how long does a new idea take to reach the shelves?

MC: Inspiration can come from anywhere – a place, an object, an email from a customer or a new material that’s created in the perfumery industry, which allows us to create the scent of something, accurately, for the first time. A good example is our Kitten Fur cologne, which is due to launch in the UK next month. I have been trying to create this scent for 15 years but it continued to allude me. Last year, I was sent a new material to smell and I just immediately thought of my own kitten, Dreads – and knew it was the ‘missing piece’ of the scent puzzle. However, much of the time, inspiration is closer to home. Pure Soap was created by me to capture the scent of my wife, who does not like to wear perfume but always uses Ivory Soap. In a similar breath, our Mountain Air was inspired by a family holiday to Alaska. The air was so pure and fragrant and I was moved to capture the scent in a bottle so that I could cherish the memories from that trip, anytime I liked. 

SM: The fragrances are blendable: create a bespoke combination for Slick Mummy Magazine please?

MC: For the Slick Mummy scent, I will take a punt with Orange Blossom + Rain + Gin & Tonic. It’s a fresh, summery and uplifting blend that’s instantly reviving, crisp, feminine and clean. And there is not a mother I know who does not deserve a gin & tonic!

SM: The bottles haven’t much changed in 20 years, have they?

MC: Not really, no. We believe that to achieve our mission of expanding the use and enjoyment of scent, each and every day, great fragrance has to be affordable. We bottle all our fragrances to order, at our own factory, in Pennsylvania, USA, which is how we are able to have such a vast collection of different scents to choose from and yet, keep our retail prices affordable. We also keep our prices low for our customers by keeping packaging to an absolute minimum – which allows us to spend money on the actual fragrance, rather than packaging that will be discarded.

For more info visit the website.

SM chats to… Donna Read, author of The Secret Mums’ Club

412377607At SM we don’t judge how you feed your baby. As we know, with lots of children and demands, life can be hard enough without pressure to breastfeed. ‘The Secret Mums’ Club’ was written to help and support, without being in-your-face ‘lactivist’ – and we were delighted that it’s author Donna Read took the time to tell us all about it.

Donna Read: The Secret Mums’ Club is the title for my first book which was released in September 2016. Why choose this name? Introducing a bottle of formula or expressed breast milk alongside breast feeding is not anything new but like me so many keep it a secret from friends, family and often their midwives! In my case I was so lucky that I was able to have open discussions with my midwives and they were fully supportive of my decision knowing we had talked through the pros and cons and I was fully informed but I often wondered how many other mums were keeping this secret and how many mums didn’t know about it and gave up breast feeding without knowing about it.

SM: What was your own breastfeeding experience?

Donna Read: Looking back as I explain in the book I really was wearing “rose” coloured spectacles.  When I attended a breast feeding workshop the mums who sat before me happily feeding their babies were at the 8 to 10 week stages and I watched them thinking how easy they made it look, how well they looked and how happy their babies looked. It never occurred to me that breast feeding would be difficult. On day 1 after birth I had two midwives assist me to extract my colostrum by hand onto a spoon, it was then collected by syringe and given orally to my daughter Katie. The midwives were so supportive and were so keen to help me establish breast feeding but it wasn’t going as well as I had hoped. By day three I was home but was so exhausted I could barely function. I suffer from asthma and eczema and I knew breast feeding could help protect my babies from this along with other things. I knew all the facts, I was well informed, I was determined but breast feeding wasn’t coming to me with ease. My husband and I talked things through and we decided I needed to put myself first and get some sleep.  We agreed he would give Katie some formula and I would get a few hours’ sleep. Just a few hours’ sleep allowed me some inner strength and from that day we never looked back.

SM: In our mothers/grandmothers’ era, mums stayed in hospital for up to a fortnight learning ‘parenting skills’. Might there be a benefit in bringing back a system such as this?

Donna Read: I think elements of this should absolutely be considered.  The book also contains a 6 week baby boot camp to give a loose routine for mums / partners to follow. Although things may seem obvious, when you have a new baby and are suffering from sleep deprivation your ability to think clearly changes. My routine involves things like, no cooking or heavy housework in the first 2 weeks following birth. No trying to put baby into a routine in the first 2 months and in the first week I recommend at least 2 days to stay in your pj’s or onesie and just spend time breastfeeding and bonding with your baby. Bringing a baby into the world is demanding and mums have to accept things will be different and to have an open mind to welcoming these changes in whatever format they present themselves. Breast feeding isnt just about the physical action it’s about laying the foundations to enable it to happen. You cannot motivate a mum to breast feed you can only create an atmosphere where they feel motivated to breast feed.

image: Daily Mail
image: Daily Mail

SM: Do you think celebrity #brelfies create a positive image of breastfeeding, or just put more pressure on new mothers?

Donna Read: If a celeb breast feeding inspires any mum to give it a try then yes its great but bear in mind you rarely see a celeb breast feeding until they have it established and the reality part is what mums need to keep focussed on.

SM: Our writers and a lot of our readers have more than one child and the experience for many is that there simply isn’t the luxury of time to breastfeed on demand when you have other toddlers to juggle. Do you have any tips to share?

Donna Read: Involve siblings right from the start they are smarter than you think.  Take time to plan short activities / snacks to keep an older sibling occupied whilst you are feeding, and yes sometimes it may involve putting a TV programme on and not feel guilty about it. Older siblings may like to roleplay so giving them a doll to pretend they are feeding or changing a nappy is highly entertaining for them.

SM: There has been a lot of controversy in the press recently about mum’s milk not having enough Vitamin D and suggesting lactating mothers take supplements (or Health Visitors prescribe vitamin drops) If this is the case then might it strengthen the argument for combination feeding (as formula has added vitamins anyway)?

Donna Read: I wouldn’t say it strengthens the case for combination feeding.  I still believe 100% exclusive breastfeeding is the very best way to feed your baby and I explain in the book looking back there are things I could have done differently and may have only used formula a few times. If research shows that babies may benefit from a vitamin drop I’m sure it will be introduced. A new mum should not start out combination feeding but more I want my book to let mums make that fully informed decision on how they want to feed, especially if they feel at any point they may want to give up breast feeding and turn to 100 % formula feeding.  I think in the book I’ve captured a great analogy which gives mums something real to consider. If I was to say from tomorrow, you are only allowed powdered milk in you tea, cereal, cooking for the next 12 months of more and not allowed fresh cow’s milk , what would you choose?  Hold that thought…Both are still milk of course they are but it’s a scenario which we can relate too.

SM: And finally, whereabouts in Troon is the friendliest towards breastfeeding in public?

Donna Read: We are so lucky in Ayrshire there are many great schemes and support, one in particular is breast feed happily here where local shops and businesses sign up and breast feeding mums are never far away from a place to be welcomed in to feed their babies in this most natural way.

cover-idea-reworked-2In the UK I would love every mum to make it their mission to start off aiming for 100% exclusive breastfeeding and not be afraid to ask for help and support in achieving this.  In reality only about 40 in every 2000 mums will be unable to breast feed so potentially we all can. Wouldn’t it be wonderful that those who could did and those who couldn’t were able to get donor breast milk meaning every baby in the UK could have breast milk? Maybe one day this could be reality, I can only dream it happens in my lifetime. It’s not a secret any more let me introduce you to The Secret Mums’ Club…

Donna’s book ‘The Secret Mums’ Club’ is available on Amazon, but we have a copy to give away on Twitter – follow our feed @slickmummy and @secretmumsclub

Ten Minutes with… Natasha Bowes of Bio-tiful Dairy

Natasha Bowes is a former Russian figure skating champion, who set up Bio-tiful, bringing cultured milk drink Kefir (which she was brought up on) to the UK. Bio-tiful products are made at Organic Riverford Farm in Dorset and sold nationwide, including in Harrods.
Kefir Range shot_OnWhite_HiRes

We tried out the range of drinks and were really impressed – they taste super light and refreshing, not like you’d expect fermented milk products to taste, and can be drunk straight, poured on cereal, blended, made into dip – or even chocolate pots.

_DSC8076We grabbed ten mins with Natasha to find out more about her brand, which despite not winning over the Dragon’s Den has won her numerous awards and critical acclaim.

SM: Where do we feature in your busy day today?

Natasha Bowes: In the afternoon, between a raw vegetable lunch and a sales meeting!

SM:  From skater to finance to dairy, you’ve certainly had a varied career! What is it that motivates you?

Natasha Bowes: Learning and experiencing new things, grasping the essence of a business / job and excelling at it – that’s what I really enjoy.

SM: Your drinks can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, which do you prefer and how do you drink them?

Natasha Bowes: My favourite is the original Kefir and I love it first thing in the morning – on its own or in a green smoothie. If I am peckish, the best mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack for me is definitely Baked Milk Kefir – it fills me up with goodness and leaves me feeling light, just perfect!

SM: What would your advice be on getting children to drink them?

Natasha Bowes: Start out with the Kefir Smoothies – we had kids in mind when we created them, as they are a little naturally sweeter due to the fruit, yet have all the goodness that Kefir gives your digestion and immunity. I lived on Kefir in my childhood, as I was mildly lactose intolerant and Kefir is naturally low in lactose and the easiest food to digest.

SM: What are the benefits over – for example – Yakult? Or bio yoghurt?

Natasha Bowes: Kefir is as natural and light as a dairy product gets, and its authentic, 2,000-year-old culture has about 40 different types of beneficial bacteria plus beneficial yeasts (for comparison a typical yoghurt would have only a couple of different bacteria strains). It is the most probiotic of all the natural foods, and naturally packed with a number of essential vitamins and minerals, with an exceptional list of health benefits resulting from that.

 SM: What has been your biggest challenge, running the business?

Natasha Bowes: Sensibly balancing work and personal life.

SM: And your proudest moment?

Natasha Bowes: Every award and stockist win is a very positive and proud moment – for the whole team!

SM: What’s next for the brand?

Natasha Bowes: Our Kefir being easily available to everybody in any part of the country!

SM: And finally (we had to ask) do you still ice skate?

Natasha Bowes: Occasionally, and with pleasure!

Find out more at: biotifuldairy.com

SM chats to… Melanie Allan, Commercial Manager, Silver Cross – Head of Home Products Division

Recently we were invited to view the new Silver Cross Soho nursery furniture set, consisting of a cot bed and dresser combo, both designed to work in small spaces.

With its Royal connections, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Silver Cross aficionados all dwell in mansions or Disney-looking castles, but this is not so the case – and as a brand they are really pushing some design boundaries (check out the Surf2 buggy, for example…)

The Soho set itself has some great details, including a double drop of hanger space inside the wardrobe (which can obviously become a single drop as your child grows) and a changing table that pops out to sit safely on top of the drawer unit.

Melanie Allan from Silver Cross told us more about it…

SM: Why did Silver Cross decide to design a set of furniture for small spaces? 

Melanie Allan: We wanted to design a range with modern families in mind. We know that often the nursery is the smallest room in the house but that doesn’t mean that you don’t want and need premium quality furniture and flexible storage options to fit in that space. It just means that you need your furniture to work harder for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SM: What were the most important considerations?

Melanie Allan: The most important consideration was to design a flexible solution for a smaller space. From talking with mums and dads, we know that just because you have a smaller space doesn’t mean that you don’t need both hanging and drawer space. We have designed Soho so you no longer need to compromise. Now you can have flexible storage that grows with your child plus our revolutionary one touch changer unit that slides out when you need it and folds easily away when you don’t.


SM:  The changing unit is genius, is this a ‘design first’?

Melanie Allan: This is a patented design that is unique to our Silver Cross Soho range. It builds on our design concept of making your furniture work harder by integrating into our existing combo unit. Just one touch and the patented changing system slides out and locks into place. Then easily folds back when not in use leaving a clean, clutter free area to maximise the space in your nursery.
SM: Will the combo be available in different colours? 

Melanie Allan: We are launching it first in the ever popular brilliant white, but may also look to introduce a warm oak version in the near future.


SM: Can the bed withstand toddler bouncing…? What other tests is it put through?

Melanie Allan: All Silver Cross furniture is fully tested to British & International Standards (Cot Beds – BS EN 716:2008 & BS 8509:2008+A1:2011)


SM:  Are the Nostalgia/Classic Silver Cross furniture pieces the most popular, or are parents looking for more contemporary designs? 

Melanie Allan: Silver Cross now offer a range of products to suit all tastes whether that be traditional, classic or contemporary. Nostalgia is an extremely popular classic design but we are also seeing increased interest in our designer chic Notting Hill range and our contemporary Portobello range.

Find out more at: www.SilverCrossbaby.com

(images: Silver Cross)

Ten Minutes With… Jade Ecclestone from TagaTeddy.com

If the unthinkable has happened to you, read on. Not some other British Politics fail, or a flirty text you sent whilst drunk going viral – no, even worse. That moment when you realise your child has lost Bunnykins and no amount of frantic searching or ice cream will rectify the situation or stop the floods of tears…

tagateddyEnter Jade Ecclestone – hero and saviour of the lost animals – thanks to her genius Tag a Teddy brand, which reunites children with their toys thanks to a smart ID tag and an app.

We caught up with Jade to find out how she turned the unthinkable situation into a business…

SM: How did Tag a Teddy come about?

Jade Ecclestone: Tag a Teddy was created in 2004 after my little boy lost his favourite teddy. He was distraught as was I. unfortunately Bramble was nowhere to be found and I immediately researched to see if there was anything I could purchase that would stop us from having to go through this again. I came to realise that there was no solution and so If set to work to create my own. 

SM: Were you confident that teddy finders would use the service?

Jade Ecclestone: Everyday there are hundreds of posts on social media of parents pleading to the public to help find their children’s lost teddies some even offering large rewards. Being a mother myself and having experienced the heartache that my child suffered as a result of him losing his best friend I was in no doubt that anyone who finds a little ones teddy would be more than happy to help return a teddy if they found one. With our tags we have made it so simple for this to be done.

SM: How many teddies have now been reunited with their owners?

Jade Ecclestone: We don’t keep a record of teddies that have been reunited as this is done via the unique profile that is created on our website.

SM: Tell us about the Gatwick Airport partnership?

Jade Ecclestone: We were contacted via a PR company working with Gatwick airport who wanted to create a family friendly activity in the airport on the bank holiday weekend. They themselves saw that children losing their teddies on or before their holiday was a huge problem and could often result in a holiday being ruined because of this and so they asked us if we would provide a service for their customers.

SM: What considerations went into the tag design?

Jade Ecclestone: Creating the teddy ID tag took a lot of research. I wanted to cover all aspects in order to make sure the tag was suitable for all ages. I myself know that teddies that are well loved end up getting filthy and so it was essential that the tag was machine washable.

My little boy had his teddy from birth and often put it in his mouth so I needed the tag to be suitable for all ages but also safe and so we made sure that all safety tests and regulations were done to allow for this.

We wanted the design to appeal to both sexes and also wanted it to be stylish and so a lot of time was taken in designing not only the product but the website and logo too.

SM: Where can we buy the Teddy Forever Collection?

Jade Ecclestone: Our teddy forever collection has currently been taken down from our shop as we are creating a brand new range which will be coming soon…

SM: What has been your proudest moment to date, running the business?

Jade Ecclestone: We have had lots of moments over the last few years that have made us extremely proud from winning awards from the famous Dragon Theo Paphitis and the owner of Ann Summers the lovely Jacqueline Gold to receiving messages from people saying that they are so pleased that they no longer need to worry about taking their child’s teddy out with them. But from a personal perspective having my son’s teacher tell me that my little boy has been telling the class that he is proud of mummy because she saves children’s teddies and having him explain all about how tag a teddy works to his class mates. 🙂

 SM: What’s next for the business?

Jade Ecclestone: We have more great things to come. We have a brand new product just released the teddy travel tag which makes it easy to apply to any teddy just in case they decide that they have a new favourite teddy. This also comes in a choice of colours blue or pink.

We also are working on a brand new product due to be released very soon.

We are working every day to make sure that we can help spread the word that no more teddies need be lost and will hopefully be found in larger retailers and here and overseas.

Get your little ones’ special friends tagged up…www.tagateddy.com

What will #Brexit mean for mums…?

This morning we all woke up to big news…

Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s tweet earlier I think mirrors the emotion of a lot of our readers…

sophie tweet

Arguably indeed, one of the tragedies is that our children have lost the right to live and work in 27 countries.

Here are some thoughts shared with us by mothers on how they are feeling about it all:

IMAG1465_1Our columnist Caitlin Hayward writes: “Just explained to three year old Bud that a bad thing happened yesterday; our country decided to leave its group of friends that takes care of each other. Our country has decided to be by itself. Is that a good thing? Bud said ‘no, we’ll have no friends then’…”

Galia Orme - founder of CHOC Chick 2Galia Orme, founder, CHOC Chick: “The UK’s decision to leave the European Union is a blow for business – and for small businesses in particular. It’s a blow for the freedom of movement of goods and people. In the short term, we’ve lost the value of our currency, costs have increased dramatically and trade opportunities have been reduced. In the long term, the time it’ll take to renegotiate trade deals and re-establish relationships internationally will see this instability continue. This will affect our ability to import our materials and export our products. This decision risks further erosion of human rights and the dignity of our fellow men and women as we close our borders and become entrenched in our own political issues. Optimism is the only way forward, so I’m determined to continue to strive for fairness in trade and in all dealings with others in this world.”

Mumpreneur and jewellery designer Theodora Gould: “We are a democracy, the majority have voted to leave, that’s just the way it is.  Calling people names and claiming they are idiots for voting to leave does nothing but spread hatred.  Things are going to change, no one knows if it’s for the best or not, but one thing I’m sure of is that we are better off if we’re nice to each other.”

Victoria Brook Headshot B b&wVictoria Brook, Founder of E-Bop.tv – the first online preschool channel with a daily viewing limit and 100% British content:
“A real concern for our little people. Is this now going to change our culture, our values and opportunities for growth and security. Younger people have given a strong voice to stay in Europe yet we find ourselves out, markets plummeting and without a prime minister. Our preschoolers have an uncertain future ahead of them. I guess we have to do the “British” broad shoulders approach and make the very best of what we now have and prepare ourselves what lies ahead. If ever there was a time to consider politics I think it would be now!”
D9619B69-EA95-48F1-8D59-D83A00AFE166
Sara Keel, Founder of Babycup – little cups for little people to encourage healthy open cup sipping. From a social perspective, I am disappointed with the result because I feel we should work with the bigger union and make it better than have a tantrum and storm out of the party. For my children and their children, we want to build bridges, not walls. On a business level, it’s a huge blow and as a small but growing brand, international trade is extremely important to us and the trade agreements that support EU export is vital. It is so uncertain right now as to how that will unfold and even if we have our own direct trade agreements in the futurist there could be a very unstable time between those becoming finalised. Every day of instability for a small business can have devastating effects. As business, Babycup is very strong and we will deal with the situation,  but we would rather be dealing with bridges, not walls..”
image: Belfast Telegraph

Sinead Murphy, Co-Founder of Shnuggle Clever Baby Products. 

“As a Mum and Business woman working closely with businesses across Europe I am shocked by the result. I don’t know what Brexit looks like and that is scary. It feels as though a vote has been won for something we do not understand. I am frightened for my children’s future. I tried to explain what happened to them on the way to school but they’re a little young to understand. I’m sure they’ll learn about it in their history books. All we can do is wait and watch and make the best of whatever happens. Cost of living, house prices, job creation….It’s out of our hands now.”
What do YOU think? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter @SlickMummy

Ten Minutes With… Soléne Roure, on her collaboration with Bobux

French born, Dalston dwelling designer Soléne Roure has worked with the likes of Nike, Puma, Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen and Lululemon, but this week announces her debut collaboration with children’s footwear brand Bobux.

We caught up with her to find out more…

SM: Can you tell us how the collaboration with Bobux came about?

Soléne Roure: The innovation & design manager at Bobux had seen some of my work and contacted me through my website. We had a number of Skype conversations and I met other members of the team in London. The enthusiasm of the Bobux team was instantly infectious and I was very excited to be working with them. They gave me a lot of creative freedom, too. They truly care about kids’ feet from an ergonomic point of view, which is very important to me.

SM: What was on your mood board when designing the collection?

Soléne Roure: Whilst I have a lot of experience designing footwear, it’s my first time working on kid’s product. It felt like a new world full of possibilities! Bobux wanted me to use my influences from working in the sports and fashion industry, and inject them into a unique product.

I was looking at what mums were currently wearing, the shoes they were into, and I wanted to make a version for the kids. So I looked at slip on sneakers. They are practical, modern and stylish. I wanted to design a shoe that could act like a blank canvas, to hold lots of colour and graphic combinations. The sole however, is very curvy, and I thought it was an interesting hybrid look. I hadn’t seen that successfully done in a slip-on before.

We created graphics that almost look like a texture from far away, yet are quite intricate when you look up close, allowing kids to engage with the playful details. Meanwhile the adults can enjoy a tasteful graphic. You’ll see it more in our future collection.

I also wanted the graphics to look like they were created by a kid. Kid’s artwork can be very similar to modern art, in the best way possible! I am excited to explore this further, in the future.

SM: Bobux are obviously known for their ‘barefoot freedom’ in children’s shoes – did this pose any limitations on your designs?

Soléne Roure: Yes, it’s a difficult balance. It’s all about communication and my job ultimately is about problem solving.

Thankfully, the Bobux team held my hand. I’ve learnt a lot about kids’ feet!  Thanks to their technical and ergonomic expertise combined with my creative efforts we were able to come up with the best design possible as a team, without compromising ‘barefoot freedom’.

SM: If you could shrink your own feet down to kids’ sizes, which shoe would you pick from the collection?

Soléne Roure: I think I would wear the Xplorer City white/black+ (with the yellow sole). I was always a bit of a tomboy growing up.

SM: And have you had any feedback from children on wearing your designs…?

Soléne Roure: Not yet, the collection only launched yesterday, we’ve had some great comments on Instagram and Facebook though so I hope people will enjoy them.

SM: Will this collaboration be the start of a beautiful relationship with Bobux..?

Soléne Roure: It’s looking pretty good, yes! I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say about this, actually.  My first collection wasn’t supposed to come out for a few months yet. Bobux was so excited though that they arranged an early release of some of the styles! That means we have more shoes coming out very soon! I can hardly wait, as these are some of my favourites so far…

View the collection online here

SM chats to… Jacqui McDonald of Goddess School

If ‘Goddess School’ conjures up images of that episode of Friends with the ‘Be Your Own Windkeeper’ book (Ed – or maybe a great name for a 90s girl band) then you haven’t heard of Jacqui McDonald.

A former burnt-out media agency power-woman she embarked on a journey to find herself and discovered a whole phenomenon – namely that within every woman is a goddess that needs to be worshiped.

We were enthralled by Jacqui’s wry and relatable stories of afterwork wine binges or how to attract men and so were delighted that she could take the time to share some goddess wisdom with us all.

SM: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Where do we fit into your schedule today?

Jacqui McDonald: I’m just getting ready to fly to LA for a weekend of Aphrodite Training – which is about remembering that although our lives can be hectic and stressful, it’s important to know how to turn on that sensual, romantic and enchanting side of ourselves so that we can enjoy spectacular love-lives.
SM: How did the Goddess School come about?

Jacqui McDonald: In my personal quest to have it all, I ended up with nothing. I had focused too hard on my career in my 20s and 30s, and it left me with adrenal fatigue, a bulging waistline, a broken marriage and infertility.  And so I embarked on an epic journey to heal myself, and what I discovered along the way blew my mind.  I went from trying to be Superwoman – busy rescuing everyone else, to becoming a Goddess – gorgeous, feminine, full of love and proudly worshipping myself.  My whole life changed. By altering the relationship I had with myself I rescued my health, adopted two amazing children, created a business and found a hot new man. That’s the true power of love. It then became very clear to me that I needed to share everything I learned with other women who are suffering the consequences of living a life out of balance.
SM: What can women hope to achieve from the courses?

Jacqui McDonald: Primarily it’s about cultivating a crazy, loving, exciting new relationship with yourself. After that, the improved confidence, fabulous body, great relationships, better sex life and powerful sense of knowing your life purpose happen automatically.

The greatest challenge my clients face is that wellbeing feels like yet another thing on their to-do lists.  Goddess School works because it makes wellbeing exciting.  It creates a paradigm shift where all the healthy stuff seem fun, glamorous and highly aspirational.  My clients quickly learn to connect with their intuition to be guided towards food choices that they love.  And knowing that practicing meditation, mindfulness and my magic Goddess rituals will make them feel self-confident, sexy and even create more time in the day is all the motivation they need to stick with the programme. 
SM: You obviously have a lot of success stories, but do you get some strange looks when you tell people what you do?

Jacqui McDonald: It’s so interesting.  Most women react in exactly the same way, saying: “Oh! I want to go to Goddess School!”  I actually think there is a Goddess inside every woman, and that we intuitively know that we need to get back to this magical and powerful side of ourselves in order to start living our best lives.


SM: And what do your family think of Goddess School?

Jacqui McDonald: My boyfriend is hugely supportive as he sees what a difference it’s made to my health, confidence and our relationship since I began embracing my inner Goddess.  He thinks he’s the luckiest man in the world!  My 11 year old daughter is fascinated by it all and aspires to lead a Goddess lifestyle – which is fundamentally about having a healthy relationship with yourself. So I’m actually humbled that she won’t be growing up with flawed beliefs about diets and negative body-image.  That’s the best gift I can give her as a mother.
SM: You cite celebs such as Susanna Reid as goddess icons, but are there any celebs you’d care to name whom you think would benefit from the courses?

Jacqui McDonald: It broke my heart recently when I watched a documentary about Whitney Houston.  It just goes to show that you can have all the talent and money in the world, but unless you like what you see in the mirror each day, it counts for nothing.  What a waste of life.  And her daughter’s life too.  So tragic.  I think that learning to love and honour yourself should be taught to all young girls in high school. Our culture is so obsessed with working hard and achieving.  I aspire to teach women that there is another way to success, and it starts with love. 


SM: A good diet obviously has a strong link to goddess well-being… do we all need to lock away the biscuit tin to succeed? 

Jacqui McDonald: That depends what’s in your biscuit tin!  The 4 Week Goddess Re-balance Programme teaches you to think entirely differently about food.  You will learn about how certain foods affect your hormones, energy levels, moods and ultimately your relationships. When you realise that sugar and carbs can make you irritable and snappy, you no longer desire them.  If you want to be a fun, hot, healthy mama and a great role model to your kids – start making great food choices, today!  Don’t wait.  And remember that this is not about diet and deprivation.  Quite the opposite.  We focus on all the amazing, healing, cell-repairing, mood-enhancing, delicious, sociable and easy-to-make foods that you get to eat – i.e. crowding out the crap.  Very quickly you will be WANTING to fill the biscuit tin with healthier options. Anything else just wouldn’t make sense.


SM: And finally, if you could give our readers one piece of goddess-advice, what would it be..? 

Jacqui McDonald: Love yourself.  It really is the key to everything.  If you can learn to worship yourself like a Goddess, a magical shift occurs.  Firstly, you accept yourself unconditionally.  No more comparisons.  No more negative talk.  Just love.  It then becomes natural, fun and easy for you to nourish your physical body with foods that make every cell radiate with great health and vitality.  Then it keeps getting better and better.  You look in the mirror and see a radiant, confident, sexy woman who can do whatever she sets her mind to.  You make brighter, bolder decisions and you create a life that’s bursting with joy.  The love you have for yourself radiates to everyone in your universe, and comes back to you in spades.  Maintaining this state of wellbeing then becomes effortless. That’s the secret.  And it works.

Find out more well-being for women at http://goddessschool.co.uk/

Images courtesy of Goddess School