Category Archives: Interviews

SM chats to… Georgia Metcalfe of The French Bedroom Company

The French Bedroom Company was set up by Georgia Metcalfe when she was unable to find the perfect bed…

Now the company – which stocks a whole range of beautifully chic bedroom furniture, bedding and accessories – has been named as a “Cool Brand” (for the 4th consecutive year) is a Sheerluxe winner, an Amara Blog winner and a House Beautiful Awards Gold winner.

We ooh-ed and ooh-la-la’d over the upholstered headboards, we swooned at the freestanding gilt mirrors. And were delighted that Georgia Metcalfe – Creative Director and Founder of The French Bedroom Company – had time to tell us all about her world…

Georgia

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

Georgia Metcalfe: I’ve just got off the phone from our delivery manager and I’m about to go into a team meeting. It’s Monday, so it means the team are extra busy processing weekend orders and getting deliveries booked in so we can get goodies to customers ASAP.


SM: Which are your bestselling items?


Georgia Metcalfe:
Our best sellers contain an eclectic mix of classic French items and also some contemporary and smart pieces. Our collection has over 500 products so there’s plenty to choose from! Our strongest contenders range from the bigger pieces, such as the Provencal Sassy Bed, Versailles Bedside Table and Strictly Studded Floor Mirror, right down to the smaller products and accessories like the Diana Bust, Provencal Rattan Chair and Grandeur Wall Light.


SM: And which do your own family love most?

Georgia Metcalfe: We love the whites; we mix French white furniture and mirrors with the modern white accessories and lighting.  My new favourite item is this Velvet Chesterfield Bench in pale grey, just can’t wait for it to arrive! and it will sit really gently in our all-white bedroom.


SM: As a next step from your role with English style brand Sanderson (Georgia was PR Director) what was the attraction of French furniture?

Georgia Metcalfe: The romantic curves, the femininity, the gracefulness and unashamed elegance.


SM: What advice would you give to someone planning a French style bedroom makeover?

Georgia Metcalfe: Start gently; go for an ornate French mirror and chandelier combination (you can pair this combo with just about any style you might already have in your bedroom).  Then, add more pieces when you’re ready: French Armoire, Chest of drawers, and then the grand French Bed!  And if you’re not sure if you can stretch your style (or convince your partner) to gold or silver then start with white and add a gold or silver piece further down the line.


SM: Are your pieces timeless or do you draw on trends?

Georgia Metcalfe: We tend to offer timeless furniture and then an array of accessories and lighting that span from timeless all the way to bleeding edge design.  That way, customers can style their bedrooms in an up to date way by only replacing a pair of bedside lamps or a chair.


SM: What’s on your moodboard at the moment?  

Georgia Metcalfe: We were just styling one of the shots for the next photoshoot today: a deep teal wall paint, a pair of wooden bedside tables, and a grey linen studded bed, accessorised with large green leafy plants, and a big pile of Vogue magazines.


SM: What has been your proudest moment?

Georgia Metcalfe: When we were first announced a Cool Brand back in 2011.  We’ve been named every year since, and I’m always so proud to feel that we’re recognised alongside brands such as Liberty, Apple and Aston Martin!  The team here work so hard so it’s a great reward for everyone.


SM: Finally (we had to ask), with such beautiful bedroom furnishings, are you actually a huge romantic…?

Georgia Metcalfe: Hahaha, yes! I am.  Because I work with my husband it’s very easy to just talk shop every evening (because we both love it so much).  We put a bath tub in our bedroom to ensure we take time with a glass of wine to chat through the day together, and we have a (True Grace) scented candle by the bed that gets lit every night.  Catching up with ‘us’ time is really important, and when you’re so busy with work and children you have to really make this time – it just doesn’t present itself anymore!

Editor’s pick: we love the quirky statement this Trippy Granny bedspread makes…

Order online from The French Bedroom Company.

Images: French Bedroom Company

SM chats to… Face Yoga Expert Danielle Collins

We were intrigued when the world’s leading face yoga expert Danielle Collins got in touch to tell us about her methods, her app and DVDs and her organic skincare serum.

But after a  few days of trying her face yoga app and nourishing our skin with her divine facial product we were hooked!

Danielle took time out for a chat to tell us all about her world.

SM: You obviously have a lot going on right now! Where does this interview fit in your schedule today?

Danielle Collins: I am sat in the gorgeous ‘Beyond the Kale’ juice bar in Bath having a green smoothie! I travelled back from my clinic in London’s Harley Street late last night after seeing clients for Face Yoga, did the nursery run this morning and did some training via Skype with someone in India who is training with me to be a Face Yoga teacher. Then I will pick my daughter up from nursery, bath her and put her to bed! Then it will be some time to eat, do yoga, see my husband and get a good night’s sleep! My days vary so much- one day I can be spending the day in the park with my daughter and the next I can be filming for a TV show. I love the variety- it keeps life interesting!
SM:  How was your face yoga method developed?

Danielle Collins: My journey started around 13 years ago when I was diagnosed with ME. I was very unwell for almost 2 years and despite doctors not knowing how to cure the illness I managed to completely recover from it using natural and holistic therapies. When I was recovered I trained as a yoga teacher, relaxation therapist, nutritionist and wellbeing coach and was teaching a lot of yoga classes. I was noticing more and more how my clients were enjoying how yoga was transforming their bodies and minds but they were increasingly asking for a natural solution to help the face to look and feel healthier too. This is when I started The Danielle Collins Face Yoga Method. I combined techniques that had been used for thousands of years in Indian and Chinese medicine such as relaxation and acupressure with new research and techniques which work with exercising the face muscles and massaging the skin. I have been very blessed that over the last decade I have been able to teach this to so many people around the world and regularly appear on TV and media. I have such a strong desire to help others to feel healthier and happier whether it be to overcome illness in the way I had or to just be our best self.


SM: You obviously have a lot of face yoga fans out there, but do you also get some strange reactions when you tell people what you do?

Danielle Collins: One of the things I love about doing what I do in the public eye is being able to reach so many people. Everyday I get emails from people saying how face yoga, yoga and the other things I offer have helped them and made a difference to their lives. That’s means so much to be as that’s why I do what I do on an international scale as I have a passion for helping as many people as I can to improve their health, happiness and well being. And yes I do have the odd surprised reaction when I say to people I do Face Yoga!! Most people seem genuinely interested in what it is though and by the end of our chat they are usually asking me to demo an exercise to help them! 

SM: Which is your best-selling DVD/product?

Danielle Collins: My DVD ‘10 Minute Natural Face Lift’ and my Face Yoga App (same content as the DVD) are the best sellers. I think people are attracted to the fact all the exercises are in 10 minute sections which fit in well to a busy lifestyle. And of course the fact that they can do something to help the face look amazing which is very natural and doesn’t cost much. 

SM: Does your daughter do yoga with you?

Danielle Collins: Yes she loves Yoga. She turns 3 in October and she has grown up with Yoga. I have a studio in my house so she just sees it as normal to play on yoga mats and with yoga blocks etc. She also loves watching my TV appearances and videos and joins in with them!  I always make the yoga we do together really fun and like a game. Yoga with children shouldn’t be too serious and can’t last too long as they don’t stay on the mat for long enough! I feel so happy that she is growing have up knowing a wonderful tool to help her mind, body and face be healthy and happy.


SM: You look AMAZING, how much yoga and face yoga do you do each day? 

Danielle Collins: As a busy working mum I have to fit what I can in around everything else. Each day I do a little face massage and face acupressure each time I apply my moisturising serum. Then I also do 20 minutes of face yoga- ideally on my yoga mat but quite often its in front of the TV whilst I am relaxing in the evening with my husband! I always make time for me on my yoga mat to do yoga though every day, this is non-negotiable as it makes such a difference to my health and wellbeing to do this. It really depends on time and energy what I do on my mat. Sometimes it’s an upbeat combination of strength exercises, Pilates and yoga focused on particularly parts of the body like the exercises in my 10 Minute Natural Body Lift DVD and Body Yoga App (I actually filmed this when my daughter was 7 months old as I wanted busy parents to be able to exercise in just 10 minutes a day but still see results). Sometimes I do a calmer, more meditative yoga like the techniques in my 10 Minute Natural Mood Lift DVD and Wellbeing Yoga App which I find are great if I am feeling tired but still want the benefits of yoga for my body and mind. 

SM: What has been the proudest moment of your career?

Danielle Collins: There have been so many moments which I have enjoyed and I am proud of. I think it was the first time I appeared at the Yoga Show in London. It was the first time I presented Face Yoga nationally and it felt like such a pivotal moment in my career. Also I loved teaching in Maldives. I am lucky to have a job where I have amazing moments every day!

SM: And finally, we had to ask, as the leading face yoga expert can you tell us if there is really any truth in that old saying ‘if you frown you’ll get wrinkles’?

Danielle Collins: There is some truth in this. Holding tension in the face for long periods for time can cause deep lines. Also, if we frown this is often a reflection of not feeling good in our minds and this alone can age us too. Feeling happy in our minds and relaxing, exercising and massaging the face is the way to look great! 

SM chats to… Cecile Reinaud of Seraphine

We were thrilled to interview Seraphine founder and head designer Cecile Reinaud.

Parisian born Cecile began Seraphine in 2002 after pregnant friends often asked her to alter their clothes.

The brand – which is loved by mums worldwide, including celebs such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson and Kate Middleton – is now the ‘go-to’ for chic, beautifully designed pregnancy style.

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SM: Hello, and thanks for taking the time to chat to us. Where do we fit in your schedule today…?

Cecile Reinaud: You are very welcome, this is actually the last job on my list today and the office is nice and quiet. It’s always busy at Seraphine, so I like to save something nice and easy for the end of the day.
SM: Seraphine has won so many prestigious awards, what has been your proudest moment?

Cecile Reinaud: This has been a really special year at Seraphine; we had a win at the PayPal Awards and were tipped as the “Ones to Watch” on Richard Branson’s Fast Track 100 list. But my proudest moment has to be winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2015. It feels wonderful to have all of our hard work recognised, and I was honoured to be invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace to meet The Queen!

image: Seraphine

SM: So many celebs favour Seraphine, is there someone whom you feel really defines the brand when they wear it?

Cecile Reinaud: I think one of the best things about our collection is that it caters for every mother’s style, and our wide range of celebrity clients really reflects that. We’ve dressed everyone from Hollywood A-listers like Kate Winslet and Jessica Alba, to rock stars like Gwen Stefani and even Royalty. And I’m always excited to see how these stylish women take our clothes and make them their own.

image: Twitter

If I had to pick one, my choice would have to be The Duchess of Cambridge. She favoured our signature collection through both of her pregnancies, choosing our Fuchsia Knotted Dress for the first official photographs with Prince George, and opting for several of our classic maternity coats whilst expecting Princess Charlotte. The Duchess has a real talent for elegant pregnancy dressing, and I am thrilled that she was such a fan of Seraphine maternity clothes through both of her pregnancies.

image: M Middleton, eonline

SM: You’ve created some prolific charity campaigns to support Tommy’s and Baby2Baby, what made you decide to do these collaborations?

Cecile Reinaud: I’ve always felt very strongly about giving back, and as a maternity brand it felt right to support charities that work to help mothers and babies. I first collaborated with Tommy’s over 10 years ago when Seraphine was still new. It is such a fantastic cause, but I will admit that my finance manager at the time was tearing his hair out wondering if I’d gone completely mad to be giving away so much profit! This year I’m thrilled to be working with Tommy’s again on a brand new charity campaign that will be backed by many of our celebrity clientele. I’m very excited about tech new initiative and our goal is to raise £100k for a new research centre in the UK on miscarriages, the campaign will be unveiled the first week of October we are hoping it will be a huge viral success and raise lots of money for this important cause.
SM: What has been your biggest business challenge to date?

Cecile Reinaud: Working across 3 time zones – America where we are opening more stores and growing our stockists, Europe where our offices are, and Asia were we are sourcing some of the production. The email flows never stop day and night, so knowing when to switch off can be difficult!
SM: Where does your design inspiration come from?

Cecile Reinaud: Oh all over! I love keeping track of the latest catwalk trends, but I find street style just as fascinating; this year it has been wonderful having London Fashion Week based in Soho, right by the Seraphine offices! Sometimes inspiration even comes from the girls at the Seraphine office. They’re a stylish bunch and I’ll often stop one of them to take a picture of their outfit to store away for ideas later on.
SM:  What has been your bestselling item (we are guessing the Jolene dress?) and which items are your personal favourites?

Cecile Reinaud: You guessed it! Our bestselling item is the Jolene Fuchsia Knot Front Maternity Dress worn by the Duchess of Cambridge in the first official photographs with Prince George. It sold out within hours after the pictures were released, and then generated a 10 week waiting list! 2 years on and the style is still consistently one of our top sellers. My personal favourites tech season are some of the gorgeous coats we have; they are luxuriously warm and soft with wool and cashmere blend and it great without a bump too. I’ll be wearing this one for my next trip to New York as it can get very cold there and for an elegant function I love to wear the coat that The Duchess of Cambridge wore to arrive in New York , I do feel like a VIP wearing it!

image: SG entertainment

SM: When you created the ShoeTherapy range, were you surprised that there weren’t more ergonomically designed, fashionable shoes out there?

Cecile Reinaud: To be frank, I was horrified! I developed ShoeTherapy during my second pregnancy when I suffered terrible back pain. I was advised to try orthopaedic shoes, but there were zero fashionable options out there – even my grandmother wouldn’t have been seen dead in the selection available.

I started ShoeTherapy as a way of making sure that there were stylish footwear options out there for fashionable mums-to-be to pair with their Seraphine maternity clothes.

image: Seraphine

Shop Seraphine here and follow Cecile on Twitter @CecileReinaud

SM chats to… writer and runner Julie Creffield

If your ‘new start’ resolution is to get out running then take a leaf (literally) out of Julie Creffield’s book ’99 Ways to Run with a Baby’ (her latest title) aimed at busy mums trying to locate that pre-pregnancy body (it is under there somewhere, right?)

We caught up with mum, writer, campaigner and plus-sized runner Julie to find out what motivates her to pound the kerb and her advice for us all…

SM: If you could say one thing to a new mum on the sofa to hopefully inspire her to get her trainers on, what would it be?

Julie Creffield: When I became a mum I felt like I had lost my identity a bit, but actually my new role made it perfect timing to reinvent myself and forge the new lifestyle I wanted, so I started as I meant to go on and put my foot down around getting time for myself to exercise and do races (including the occasional weekend away) It’s really important that loved ones know that your health and wellbeing is just as important as baby’s. I think it must be a lot harder once the kids are a little bit older to introduce a whole new way of living.

SM: When in your day do you make time to run?

Julie Creffield: Whenever I can. I have a few key times, normally when I can run with others but seriously I run whenever I can squeeze it in. I sometimes run between meetings if that’s the only way it’s gonna happen. I have even run to go and pick up a coat from a shop 7 miles away. I did get the bus back though…

SM: Does your daughter have a favourite run route?

Julie Creffield: She loves to run, but at two and a half she only manages short distance before getting bored or tired. We have a pathway that leads to a nature reserve where I live and it’s like the only bit of nature for miles, we often just hang around on that path her with her scooter me doing interval training. I used to run with her in a pushchair but I then didn’t feel like I was getting a break, so I stopped it when she was about 8 months.

SM: We recently featured jogging strollers, do you have any wisdom regarding which buggy to jog with?

Julie Creffield: I think you need to really think about if you are going to get the use out of one. Ultimately you can run with any pushchair…we do when we have a bus to catch right? But if you want to run more seriously then perhaps test drive a few and don’t be afraid to buy second hand or even pool one with friends.

SM: What was it like doing This Morning? (Are you a morning person?)

Julie Creffield: I loved the thrill of doing the show, I had 3 ladies and just 5 weeks to help them become runners so it was highly pressured but in some ways that was good because I didn’t have time to stop and think. The hardest thing was juggling childcare because if filming over ran she still needed to be collected from nursery on time. I am a morning person if I have something exciting to get up for, otherwise I have been known to snooze quite a bit especially if Rose has jumped in for a cuddle.

SM: You obviously love East London, do you have any insider tips for child friendly post-run-refuelling?

Julie Creffield: There are so many hidden gems. All around the Olympic Park there are cute quite trendy places to go, and most seem child friendly. I love taking Rose for a picnic after a run or a race, I can lay around recovering and just watching her play and I don’t feel at all guilty for finishing off all the humous.

SM: What’s next for you, career wise? 

Julie Creffield: I have massive plans for taking the Too Fat to Run? Brand global. Next year I will be training up an army of UK TFTR coaches and the following year hopefully this will grow into Europe and further afield. There is so much demand for good quality inclusive running clubs, and led by women that look like the majority of us. Nobody needs the hassle of having to wear coordinated kit and a full face of make up to work out and we are sick of being left at the back all the time, my Too Fat to Run? Groups will have a focus on friendship and fun…and there may even be cake at the finish line.

Julie’s books are available on Amazon.

Boutique Focus… Mon Breton

When we saw Mon Breton’s range of classic Breton tops with unique quirky emoji details the concept really made us smile.

So we were delighted that Creative Director Isla Cunningham took the time to chat to us about her brand.

 kuola and tree

SM: What advice on weight and stripes would you give to someone choosing their first Breton top?

Isla Cunningham: The beauty of the Breton is that you can’t go wrong. It looks good on everyone, so you can wear it with confidence! For a Breton beginner I would want a classic “Navy on White” heavyweight long-sleeved shirt. The equivalent of our “Bardot”. The original, the classic.

SM: You have some quite ‘out there’ emoji options, have you been surprised by the choices of your customers?

Isla Cunningham: Haha, Yes! Well, I think the aubergine has caused a few raised eyebrows! All our customers have chosen designs close to their heart. That’s what makes Mon Breton so special. My favourite is probably the matching dachshunds I made for a grandmother and her grandson. They look adorable.

Grandma-Grandson-Matching-Daschunds

SM: Which emojis do you have on your own top?

Isla Cunningham: I obviously have a few but the top closest to my heart has a Koala & Tree on it (pictured above). I’m the Koala and Charles my fiancée is my Tree. We’ve even got a little song but you’ll have to buy me a few martinis before I break it out! We are getting married New Year’s Eve; I’m thinking stripes might feature quite heavily! We’ve actually just had an order from a bride who wanted unique gifts for her bridesmaids. She asked for their initials on each of the tops. Very cute.

initials

SM: And how do you personally accessorise a Breton?

Isla Cunningham: Great question. The Breton is SO versatile – with skinny jeans and loafers or ballet flats is a classic look, but for work I often pair mine with a chic lace pencil skirt. Next week I’ll be wearing one on the beach over a neon bikini.

SM: There are many celeb Breton lovers, but who would your dream customer be?

Isla Cunningham: I would say Alexa Chung. Her style is effortless. Bretons are perfect for babies, they are hard wearing, wash well, classic, versatile, unisex and I can’t deny that seeing Prince George wearing one would be a delight! As for Charles, I think he would say Natalie Portman.

SM: What’s next for the brand?

Isla Cunningham: Getting our name out there! Mon Breton is still under 6 months old and the feedback has been so positive we are really grateful to all our fans who are spreading the word. A menswear collection can’t be too far away. Charles is desperate to get his James Dean look on! We have had some interest from Asia, the Far East and the States so this is just the beginning and we are so excited.

Find out more and order your personalised Breton now from www.monbreton.com

SM chats to … Caprice

Model, actress, presenter (she had a singing career somewhere too) Caprice Bourret was named the World’s Sexiest Woman by the News of the World, GQs Woman of the Year and Maxim’s International Woman of the Year for three consecutive years. So it may come as a surprise to some that she can run a lingerie, swimwear and bedding empire, give motivational speeches to inspire fellow entrepreneurs and also raise two young boys (who are not quite twins – but almost).

We recently discovered that she can also add writing an intelligent, poignant autobiography to her list of accolades, telling the story of her amazing career, her struggle with IVF and the magical arrival of her sons.

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We managed to put the book – titled ‘My Boys, My Body, My Business’ – down for just long enough to grab a quick chat.

SM: We loved the observation you made in your book about British women feeling embarrassed to admit that they want to make money. If you could give one piece of advice on this subject, what would it be?

Caprice: Don’t be embarrassed about being ambitious. Independence is your happiness. Don’t ever be ashamed of making money. The only piece of advice I would say is always have integrity and don’t burn bridges to get ahead.

SM: The story of how your gorgeous boys came into the world is an incredible one (Caprice found out she was pregnant whilst a surrogate was carrying her other son, thus the boys are mere weeks apart in age) In your extensive work with IVF/Women’s charities, have you ever met anyone else whom this has happened to – or was your experience really one in a million? 

 Caprice: Not one person, neither has my doctor who has been in the business for 25 years. Both of my boys are my miracle boys and I feel very thankful and blessed.

SM: You’ve graced over 250 magazine covers. Which will be the first one you’ll show the boys?

Caprice: Probably one of my Maxim or GQ front covers.  I’ll say, see mommy used to look like that.

SM: And any plans for a childrenswear collection…?

Caprice: I do have a project in the pipeline that is related to children. Once I will launch that, children’s wear is definitely on my agenda.

SM: And finally, we are in the final week of voting for our Mummy Must Have Awards (#MMHA 2015) are there any standouts for you? 

Caprice: Becky Mantin’s nappy change kit looks like a really clever invention. Very handy for on the go! Being an advocate of organic food, I would also have to opt for Buko’s Coconut Water aimed at the whole family.

Nappy Grab bag 1 to 6 (2) buko

‘My Boys, My Body, My Business’ by Caprice Bourret is available now through Blink Publishing

Caprice’s website: www.capricebourret.com

SM chats to… Annika Sander-Löfmark of BabyBjörn

BabyBjörn is a hero brand that has been pushing the boundaries and creating fantastic products for decades. Since the 60s the Jakobson family business has grown into an empire and more to the point a household name for parents – albeit an often mispronounced one!

Porträtt (3)

We put some of our questions to Head of PR, Annika Sander-Löfmark…

SM: We ADORE the look of the new Ice Cream collection – how did the concept for this range come about? 

Annika Sander-LöfmarkThe Bouncer and BabyBjörn One carrier are firm favourites of parents all over the world, and we wanted to bring a fresh look to the collection this summer in partnership with John Lewis. We have absolutely brilliant designers and art directors, we produce all our own shoots and always try and make everything perfect- we couldn’t get the right shade of pink for the Dad’s suit, so the stylist literally painted it the exact shade! We work with scan and style trends to inspire us too.

SM: Any plans to bring back any of the original 60s or 70s designs ?

Annika Sander-LöfmarkPeople often ask us about limited edition collections we have run, and we actually did bring some of these back for the 50th anniversary in 2012, so you never know…

SM: The baby carriers have become the ‘must have’ accessory for the modern Dad (despite some backlash in the 80s), was this always one of the intentions behind the product?

Annika Sander-LöfmarkYes, Dads are very important for us and that they should feel comfortable using it. It has to suit both parents, function-wise and design-wise. Our first carrier, was featured in Harper’s Bazaar and was a navy blue, as the photography was in black and white it looked like the carrier was black – people were drawn to the unisex design and because of all the requests we received we made a black carrier which Dads love, and this has been a firm favourite ever since. Shortlist magazine, also once described our carrier as looking like “Batman’s armour” which we thought was a fantastic comparison for Dads.

SM: The acclaimed BabyBjörn highchair makes the bold decision not to have harnesses or straps, did you find parents needed some convincing that it was safe when the product was launched?

Annika Sander-Löfmark: Yes but we are used to introducing new solutions that didn’t exist before. The BabyBjörn Highchair has won prestigious awards all over the world and the reviews from parents about the product speak for themselves. The highchair took over 10 years from prototype to finished product, as we wanted to be certain that it could be the product that parents and babies could trust, most accidents in the home come from highchairs and babies cannot move or fall out of the BabyBjörn Highchair, and the angle of the legs mean here is no risk of them pushing their feet against a table and pushing themselves over either.

SM: Is there any difference between the One and the We design apart from the outward facing carry option? 

Annika Sander-LöfmarkThe One and the We are both a new generation of carrier, designed with the perfect ergonomics to carry children up to 3 years, the original and miracle carriers are still loved by parents for young babies, but many parents are now carrying their babies for longer so these new carriers accommodate this. As well as the outward facing option the One carrier can be opened on both sides so you can lie children down flat when taking them out. The We carrier, is a more simple, affordable carrier, which allows for inward and back carrying. Both are simple to put on and supportive for parents back and lumbar, as well as providing a comfortable seat for babies to travel, and to be part of the conversation, close to their mum or dad’s heart.

SM: As a family owned business, have there been any products that have personally stood out as favourites for any of the Jakobson generations of children?

Annika Sander-LöfmarkThe Jakobsons have been using and developing all the products and improve them all with time with the help of medical professionals all over the world. If they are not happy with it they change it. But they have of course a special relationship to the Bouncer and the Baby Carriers which have proved to make so many families so happy. When Björn developed the first carrier and carried his daughter in it, he said the bond it created was like floating on a cloud, and many parents have now experienced this.

SM: If our readers were to buy just one BabyBjörn product, which would you suggest?

Annika Sander-LöfmarkI would have to say the BabyBjörn Bouncer Balance Soft, such a life saver, we know so many mums that wouldn’t have been able to have a shower without it.

Visit the website for stockist info.

SM chats to… Stacey Jackson

Stacey Jackson is one heck of a slick mummy. Balancing a career as a popstar (giving the Taylor Swift gang a run for their money in her forties) with running a busy home, record label and now fashion line, Stacey is a transatlantic mother of four and rarely spotted out of high heels. Somehow she also finds time to work out, party with the Made in Chelsea gang and Snoop Dogg and perform live around the world.

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SM: Stacey, what are you up to at the moment?

Stacey: You know that saying ‘when it rains, it pours’… I’m about to launch my new StaeFit workout tops which I developed to help women with various issues they face while working out such as skin irritation like breast rash. It will initially be available on Staefit.com. I’m also debuting a new single off my three-volume cardio mix album called StaePumped. The single is called “How Much is That Hottie in the Window” and it features a good friend of mine, Andrew Derbyshire who was a finalist on Britain’s Got Talent. 

SM: What would be the best advice you could give our readers when hiring a nanny?

Stacey: As a working mom, finding someone with good judgement is imperative. I recommend you check them out so thoroughly — even try to find them on Facebook or Instagram for example. Are most of their pictures of them partying? You can get a sense of a person by the images they choose to upload. Also when interviewing, give the candidates scenarios so they can tell you how they would react. Such as, “what happens if I’m away and the child spikes a fever?” or “what if there was an accident on the playground, how would you handle it?” or “the phone rings while the baby is in the bath tub, what do you do”. You’d be surprised the number of crazy answers you can get. A good nanny shouldn’t even have to pause to reply to these questions with answers that will make you feel they know what they are doing.  Also I suggest to actually speak to their references, don’t just take an agency’s recommendation. 

SM: Any plans for a childrenswear line?

Stacey: Haha, very possibly. The first Stae Brand being launched is my fitness range called StaeFit so I’m focused on that right now. But you never know… I hope to carry the Stae range through to other brands, StaeSexy (lingerie) StaeHome (home accessories) and you never know… StaeYoung or StaeKids 🙂

SM: Are there any future pop stars burgeoning among your brood?

Stacey: My 17 year old son is an awesome drummer and at the moment my 8 year old daughter wants to be a pop singer like her mommy… We’ll see how long that lasts! 

SM: And finally, we recently announced the Shortlist for our 2015 Mummy Must Have Awards. Do any of the products or brands we selected stand out for you as a parent?

buko

Stacey: I’m an avid fan of the coconut water. It’s amazingly rehydrating and tastes delish! I take it to the gym and I also drink it before I’m about to go on stage. Love!

Follow Stacey on Twitter @Staerox

Vote for Buko Coconut Water in the #MMHA 2015 here

SM Chats to…The Gro Company

The award-winning Gro Company are the inventors of The Lullaby Trust approved Grobag Baby Sleep Bag, as well as numerous innovative children’s products such as the Gro-Egg, Gro-Blind and the Gro-Hush.

We were delighted to get to chat to Claire Bradley, Brand & Product Development Manager at Gro HQ to find out all about the company and what *ahem* gets them out of bed…

SM: We’re super impressed by all the product innovations you have. Which are you most proud of?

Claire Bradley: All of them! We only have products that genuinely add value to parents’ lives and we constantly receive reviews and messages from grateful parents who have had positive experiences.

Right now we’re very excited about an innovative new product we’re launching in July this year. The Gro-snug is the only bedding parents will need for their newborn baby. It’s a 2-in-1 swaddle and newborn grobag and is set to be another parenting ‘must have’.

SM: Being endorsed by the Lullaby Trust must bring great responsibility as well as great honour. How did working with them come about and has the endorsement meant extra safety measures for you?

Claire Bradley: The Lullaby Trust is the leading global research charity for safe sleep, and we have been working closely with them to promote safe sleep for babies for over 15 years. In fact, the Gro Company was instrumental in putting in place the British Standard for Baby Sleep bags. Our grobag is not just the only baby sleeping bag that is recommended by the Lullaby Trust – it is also the safest baby sleep bag available.

SM: If our readers were to buy just one of your Grobags, which would you suggest?

Claire Bradley: A lot depends on the situation of the individual buyer. You need to start with the temperature of the bedroom where your baby will be sleeping. From this, you can work out which tog (warmth rating) you need to buy. So, for a room that is 16-20 degrees C, the 2.5 tog is optimal. If the room is warmer (21-25 degrees C) then the 1.0 tog would be better. There is also a 0.5 tog for heat waves (25 degrees plus) and a 3.5 tog for very cold rooms that drop below 16 degrees C.

Once you have settled on the right tog then it’s a simple case of choosing the right size (0-6 months, 6-18 months, or 18-36 months), and a design that you love – that’s the fun part!

SM:  And (we had to ask!) is there such a thing as a ‘duvet day’ when you work for Gro?

Claire Bradley: Ha! As you can imagine, our office is a really nice place to work, so there’s no big incentive to stay in bed. We did once make an adult sized grobag for a humorous photograph, but I don’t think anyone has worn it to bed….yet!

Editor’s pick of the site: we love love love the beachy-chic Sandcastle Bay design…Or junior hipsters should check out their collaboration with Anorak.

SM Chats to… David Audsley of DAIO

Hands up who has been here: you’re all dressed up and ready to go out to a family lunch, the kids are mud-free, wearing shoes on the right feet and your husband has found his only tie that hasn’t been used as a bridle for the hobby-horse. You’re in the car, everyone is strapped in, you’ve even downsized to a clutch bag instead of a changing bag. All is good in the world until three miles down the road you have that panic moment: Aaaaargh, I left the straighteners on!

More to the point, who knew that hair straighteners – after hot drinks – are the second biggest culprits when it comes to burns accidents for children? Not to mention the amount of house fires which originate from these appliances.

Enter hairdresser, Dad and design hero David Audsley and his DAIO invention, which not only safely stores straighteners so that little hands can’t pry them out to play, but also keeps them safe whilst heating up, cooling down – or if you’ve had a ‘blonde moment’ and left them on.

We caught up with him to find out about the product, his work with charities and why owning a DAIO will lead to a lot less ‘Aaargh!’ in the world…

DAIO

SM: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, it’s a great product. We all have those OCD moments when it comes to straighteners, so we’re presuming your own partner had panic-moments too..?

David Audsley: Firstly, my pleasure and I’m really glad you like the product. Absolutely, but she probably didn’t panic often enough to be honest. The bedroom carpet, window sill and bedside table will vouch for that!

There was a particular moment when it really hit home for my wife and she realised how dangerous her straighteners could be and how easy it could be to have a nasty accident. My daughter Madison was two at the time and walked into the bathroom where my wife was getting ready grasping her straightening irons pretending to straighten her hair like mummy.

Luckily they hadn’t been on and weren’t plugged in because she actually picked them up and held them by the plates. It was a massive wake up call. It was then that I really started to develop the idea more and did massive amounts of research on child burns, house fires and the sheer amount of insurance claims from straightening irons… And it’s scary!

SM: How did the DAIO develop from an idea to a product?

David Audsley: The great thing about been a hairdresser with a busy column is that you get to meet lots of people with very different jobs. First of alI, I used my clients as a sounding board to see if they thought there was a need for the product. Just about everyone I spoke to had their own story about mishaps with heated hair appliances, varying in levels of seriousness.

I eventually spoke to one of my long standing clients Pat Mangion, who I knew had come from a marketing background but more importantly had developed new products from their infancy. To be honest I had all these notes and sketches of the product I wanted to make but had absolutely no clue who to speak to about it or how to move forward with it.

Pat has now become my marketing director and has held my hand through the whole process from concept to design to manufacturing the DAIO.

SM: Tell us about the connection with Lindholme Prison? (DAIO team is working with Lindholme Prison to provide work experience and job opportunities for offenders.)

David Audsley: On the DAIO journey we’ve been fortunate that a lot of people have wanted to help us and put us in touch with some key people. The Lindholme connection came off the back of a meeting the team had with a very helpful gentleman that worked for the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS). MAS helps UK start-ups with potential R&D grants and also offers sound advice on all aspects of manufacturing, planning & logistics in the UK.

When discussing logistics and pick and pack companies, he mentioned a government reform scheme that he thought could help us. The scheme not only makes the assembly of products a lot more affordable for UK start-ups but also helps to offer inmates potential employment whilst serving their sentence and also aims to provide employment for them on release.

The inmates that have assembled our product have done a fantastic job, taking a massive amount of care and pride in ensuring that it was done to a very high standard, for which we as a company are extremely grateful.

SM: And with the Child Accident Prevention Trust, what made you decide to donate profits? (£1 is donated for each DAIO sold)

David Audsley: We approached CAPT because when I was doing all my research, they seemed to be trying very hard to make parents and children aware of the dangers of hot hair appliances and working to prevent these accidents from happening.

When we met CAPT’s Chief Executive Katrina Phillips we all agreed we’d love to be able to help by donating an amount from each UK DAIO sold. She’s a lovely lady who is clearly passionate about the charity and the great work that her team does. This year we’re going to be involved with CAPT’s Child Safety week and hopefully help them spread the word and raise awareness on the importance of storing your hot hair tools before, during and after use.

SM: As a hairdresser rather than a product designer, did you ever think ‘all these accidents might be avoided if women just embraced the frizzy look’?

David Audsley: Ha ha! It’s an interesting idea, but not one I think will be massively embraced by women all over the world. It would definitely solve some of these problems though. I have clients that straighten their hair even when they wear it up so they have a super sleek ponytail.

With the way fashion and trends change seasonally, there’s always some weird & wonderful new hair tool coming to the market to aid you in achieving that catwalk for the high street look.

You only have to look at the arrival of hair wands and the comeback the tong has made over the last few years when the “beachy” tousled look and curls came massively back into fashion.

And those particular products really need to be handled and stored with care because essentially you’ve got a completely exposed 230 degree metal implement. At least straighteners have a little bit of plastic around them.

I’m pretty sure hot hair tools are here to stay in one form or another. I’ve seen the panic on women’s faces when their straighteners break and heard them debate even leaving the house or going on a night out without straightened hair.

SM: What do your own children think of the DAIO?

David Audsley: I’ve got 2 children. My son Dylan is nearly 11 and Madison is only 4 and they’ve both got very different opinions about the DAIO.

Dylan thinks it great because I’ve been fortunate to have got some great coverage in the local and regional newspapers, online and had the opportunity to do a fab radio interview recently. In his mind that means his Dad’s famous (or that’s what him and his year 5 classmates think…) that’s good enough for me. Joking aside, I think he’s really proud, he understands and has seen how much time I’ve devoted to developing the DAIO as well as juggling 12 hours a day stood behind a chair cutting/colouring hair in my salon to fund the DAIO project over the last 2 years.

Madison on the other hand thinks I’m a spoil sport because she can’t play with mummy’s hair straighteners anymore because she can’t get them out of my wife’s DAIO clamped safely out of her way! But actually as times gone on it’s more “out of sight, out of mind.” Because the irons are no longer balanced strategically over the edge of my bedside cabinet, they’re not at the forefront of her mind.

SM: What’s next for you and the brand?

David Audsley: For the brand, it’s about getting the message out there and building the DAIO brand across the UK and Europe initially. We’re are also working hard behind the scenes on our next two products and looking to increase our production capacity for the DAIO so we can do a full scale campaign on the market and get DAIOs in homes everywhere hopefully.

For me, I’m hoping to spend a lot less time in the salon over the coming year and hopefully be even more hands on with the brand. I want to be able to action all the above as the DAIO starts to gain more traction.

Order your DAIO here.