Tag Archives: childrenswear

Boutique Focus: The Little Bear Cub Company

We caught up with the super-talented Charlie from The Little Bear Cub Co who told us about the importance of supporting small businesses and letting kids be kids, rather than gender stereotypes. 

SM: How did the Little Bear Cub Co come about? 

Charlie: The Little BearCub Co. was born from restlessness. I had been working in the fashion industry for almost 10 years and had always wanted my own business, but I got to a point where I felt more than ready to dive in the deep end, so I quit my job and a week later The Little BearCub Co. journey began!

SM:  We’re besotted with Bunny, Bearcub and Foxcub – how tricky was it to create truly gender-neutral characters? 

Charlie: I wouldn’t say it was tricky, as such. I’m a very attentive person and notice small things, and this combined with my knowledge in fashion and textiles made the journey much easier. I was picking up passing comments and feedback from customers, friends and family about the lack of gender-neutral options for children on the high street and wanted to see where I could go with it. I think speaking to the people that do or may use your product is so important, they guided me to the choices I made and avoiding age-old clichés also helped, plus use of colour, which I think is so vital to creating gender-neutral designs.

SM: What other considerations go into your designs?

Charlie: Everything I design is considered, right down to the thread. Being a small business, you really have a huge amount of competition to deal with, so I make sure what I put out there has been well thought out, beautifully crafted and considered for my market. The most important things I consider are colour, fabric, end use, design and our slow fashion ethic.

SM:  Where are your products manufactured?

Charlie: All of our products are currently manufactured in the Kent countryside, which goes hand in hand with our slow fashion ethos. I think it’s so important to keep production within the UK, it enables me to keep an eye on everything but also helps revive our dying fashion industry by getting local artisans, within the community, involved with what we do.

SM: We know how important it is to shop small, but what does doing this mean for you and your business?

Charlie: Anyone that shops small is fueling a dream, a passion and a talent! As with any small business, there is huge competition from mass manufacturers producing cheap items, designs being taken without permission and the list goes on but when you purchase something from a small business your showing that you care, you become part of a wonderful community and I think that’s the magical thing about shopping small. You get to speak directly with the person or team that created that product and I think in this day and age, it’s incredibly important to create those connections, to get to know your local and social communities because that’s how we survive, as small businesses, and that’s how we can make a real difference.

SM:  Your Instagram feed is a great ‘shop window’. Did you get advice on making it so engaging?

Charlie: To be honest, I haven’t. It’s been a huge learning curve and still is, I think with social media, there is no magic strategy. One thing that works for one person may not work for you, so you just have to go with the flow a bit and constantly challenge yourself to be better. I look to other small businesses and bloggers for inspiration and how I can improve our imagery and creativity in a way that engages the online community and our customers.

SM:  What’s are your 2018 goals for the business? 

Charlie: 2018 is going to be a huge year for us! We’ve got a lot lined up and we’re definitely going bigger and better this year but the first big goal of the year is to launch our Spring/Summer collection which will be a larger collection than our current one and is heading in a slightly different direction but one that I’m really excited about.

SM:  And what’s on your mood board right now? 

Charlie: Lots of Spring/Summer imagery, playful colours, bold prints and over-sized silhouettes.

SM: Where can we shop for Little Bear Cub Co products?

Charlie: You can shop our collection both on the website and our Etsy store!

Wild Things at Frugi – new collection launches today

Ethical childrenswear retailer Frugi has collaborated with Kirsty Hartley, inspiring designer, maker, and author of Wild Things; to create a bold and beautiful range of playful characters woven into imaginative everyday wear for little ones.

Introducing new characters including Felicity Fox, Peanut Penguin and Roary Tiger, all made from super soft GOTS certified organic cotton to create clothes that little ones just can’t wait to dress in each morning! In this NEW collaboration, you can find cord pinafore dresses with matching cord bags (a Frugi first!), a transformation of the famous Frugi snuggle fleeces, cord dungarees and a cosy button up jackets.

Suitable for ages 1-6 years, RRP: From £16 – £49. Available to buy from today at www.welovefrugi.com

Zakti launches childrenswear range this November

Active wear brand Zakti is set to launch a childrenswear range in November this year. The London based company will launch the 86 piece collection for AW16 in their four UK stores, online and new global locations in the USA and Canada.

We’re loving their Dawn to Dusk padded jackets – a total bargain at just £25 – which are so soft and warm kids will be ‘duvet-ed up’ all day, in a choice of colourways that really appeal to little ones.

And how super-cute is this fluffy beanie?

Shop the full collection online here.

Boutique Focus: Oh Arthur

Oh Arthur are a talented trio (Stephanie North, Emma Murray and Cheryl Samantha Ellis) whose cheeky monochrome fashion statements are swiftly winning them a cult following. We caught up with Emma from the team who told us why everything is rosy in their black and white world.

Stephanie North, Branding and Design Director and Teddy
Stephanie North, Branding and Design Director and Teddy
Cheryl Samantha Ellis, Production Director and Bentley
Cheryl Samantha Ellis, Production Director and Bentley

SM: Which are your bestselling items?

Emma: Our personalised tee and handmade leggings are our best sellers. Our customers like the personal touch and as each item is made to order so they know they are getting something unique.


SM: And which do your own children like best?

Emma: Our little ones are currently only 10 months so they let Mummy know best for now but our ‘Happy until HANGRY’ tee was inspired by our Branding & Design Director – Steph’s son Teddy – for sure, he loves his food every 3 hours without fail…

Emma Murray ,PR and Marketing Director and Arthur
Emma Murray ,PR and Marketing Director and Arthur

SM: Where does your design inspiration come from?

Emma: We all discuss as a team and decide on a theme to fit the time of year and often collate inspirational images and quotes all year round. Steph then works her magic and we all pick together. We are very lucky as we all have the same tastes and normally agree on the same ones – we are very lucky to have such a great team.


SM: What considerations go into the garment creation?

Emma: We always pick soft, organic material that we know washes well, prevents fading and lasts. All our products are given the official
‘Mum test’ before releasing any products to market which includes numerous wear and tear by our little ones at nursery, crawling, washing, ironing – you name it. It’s important for parents to know that they are usable on a daily basis. Once approved our Production Director Cheryl gets to work and spends numerous hours hand-making everything from leggings, skirts, personalised dolls etc…


SM: What are the biggest challenges for you, running the business? 

Emma: Juggling everyday life, being Mums, plus all our personal commitments is always the biggest challenge – isn’t it for everyone?!  But we love it and wouldn’t have it any other way…


SM: And your proudest moment?

Emma: Being accepted by Not On The High Street and selling our items internationally due to demand is definitely one of our proudest moments for sure. We still pinch ourselves daily that we are doing this and people like our clothing – It’s such an amazing feeling and we are so humbled.


SM: Which celeb kids would you like to see wearing Oh Arthur?

image: xposure

Emma: Fearne Cotton’s little ones would be cool but hand on heart all the Mums and Dads who send pictures of their children to us daily wearing our clothing are little celebs in their own right. Children from all over the world are wearing Oh Arthur – there’s no better feeling than that – they make our brand without a doubt…


SM: And finally (we had to ask) in your world, is everything black and white…?

Emma: Haha not everything, we would if we could. Don’t get us wrong, we love a splash of colour, but there is something about Monochrome, plus is goes with everything. But no, our homes are not just black and white, but we are working on it…

image: Louth Leader

Shop online at Oh Arthur.

Boutique Focus: Florrie and Max

We’ve coveted the deliciousness of Florrie & Max frillies for a long time now and we love the fab unisex tees and leggings too – so were delighted when founder Claire took time to tell us all about the business she now runs full time after being made redundant whilst pregnant (if you didn’t say ‘up yours!’ to your former employers Claire, we are saying it for you!)

slickmum

SM: How did Florrie & Max come about?
Claire: Florrie & Max started life in July 2013 under its former name of Itsy Bits Children’s Boutique. I was on maternity leave from my job as an accountant at the time and, after scouring the high street and the internet, I spotted a gap in the market for affordable, brightly coloured frilly pants to cover nappies. The business started on a bit of a whim (probably not advisable!) with a wholesale order of 100 pairs of ‘frillies’ which sold out within 4 days of me launching the website. Since then we have expanded into tutus, tights and our collaboration with The Princess & The Frock.

SM: Which are your bestselling items?
Claire: Best sellers vary from week to week and season to season but ever popular are the frillies and our handmade leggings by The Princess & The Frock.

SM: And which items does Elsa like best?
Claire: Elsa loves the new range of handmade dresses which will be launching at the end of February. She always enjoys it when we work with Claire from The Princess & The Frock as I let her look into new fabrics with me. Even at just 3 years old she likes to be involved! Also despite not being a girly girl she does love a tutu!

SM: What are the biggest challenges, running the business?

Claire: I now run Florrie & Max ‘full time’ after being made redundant whilst pregnant with 10 month Ted. So time is probably the biggest challenge at the moment. My ‘to do’ list is ever growing and my plans to grow Florrie & Max often suffer because I don’t have the time to invest. However, I wouldn’t change anything; despite working until the early hours several times a week I get to spend all day with my children. 
SM: And your proudest moment…?

Claire: That’s really quite tricky as I am proud of so much I have achieved in the last two and a half years. I think what’s made me proudest is that I have managed to take a whim of an idea and turn it into my full time job. Hopefully we will continue to grow and grow and I will be able to continue to be with my children through the day and spend the evenings working on Florrie & Max.


SM: Where did the name come from?

Claire: After launching as Itsy Bits Children’s Boutique in 2013 I was never entirely happy with the name. It wasn’t really me and was something I pondered changing several times. After having Ted in April 2015 I decided that it was time to make the change and Florrie & Max was born. Named after my very own Elsa Florence and Ted Maxwell.
SM:  What made you decide to offer free postage on all items?

Claire: As a regular internet shopper there is nothing more frustrating that having to search a website top to bottom to find out how much the shipping charge is going to be. I have abandoned many a shopping cart due to extortionate shipping charges at checkout. So I felt quite strongly that the price you see is the price you will pay, no sneaky extras, no shocks when you come to payment.


SM: What’s next for the business?

Claire: We have the Spring collaboration with The Princess & The Frock launching at the end of February which is very exciting. Despite not being able to sew a stitch this collaboration allows me to be creative as I select all the fabrics and work on styles and designs with an expert in The Princess & The Frock.

I am also in talks about stocking a few other small, independent brands and I am always looking to develop unisex and boys ranges to counter the ‘girliness’ of all the frills!

Shop online at Florrie and Max

Boutique Focus: Fine Young Things

Andy and Eleni set up childrenswear boutique Fine Young Things as they wanted to create a retail hub for luxury items that would last – and still be loved as hand me downs. They also realised how difficult trawling a shopping mall can be with little ones in tow (and they should know, as they have three of their own!)

We caught up with them to find out more about Fine Young Things and the challenges they have overcome.

SM: Tell us what makes Fine Young Things special?

Andy and Eleni: As parents to three growing boys we have over the years struggled to find quality clothing on the UK high street. With family from all over Europe we soon discovered that the choice for kids-wear is formidable abroad. You can find that “something a bit different” and that’s what we aim to do. Best of all, the quality is so good that clothes our 8 year old wore are now worn by our 3 year old. Everyone loves a “hand me down”.  To facilitate the shopping experience we’ve developed our very own look-book idea to help visualise outfits and how items can be mixed and matched.

SM: How do you choose which labels to stock?

Andy and Eleni: First and foremost we are looking for high quality and great style and unusual designs. As a first step we’ve spent time selecting some trendy fashion labels from all over the globe for boys & girls, ages 0 to 12 years. There’s recognisable labels such as Billieblush, Billybandit & Garcia Kids but we’ve also introduced some fabulous brands relatively new to the UK market such as Sticky-Fudge from South Africa & Carrement Beau from France.
SM: Which are your bestselling items?

Andy and Eleni: That really varies from week to week. At the moment party wear for boys and girls is going strong. So faux fur coats, party dresses as well as hats, coats and scarves.
SM: And which items do your own children love most?

Andy and Eleni: I must say they have acquired quite a few pieces that they’ve taken a fancy to! They each have their own style.  My eldest likes a smarter, more formal style with jeans and a funky checked shirt whereas the other two love to be casual and mostly go for the fun tees and soft hoodies.
SM: What are your biggest challenges as a business?

Andy and Eleni: Juggling our jobs and the new business and our three boys. But it’s a challenge we are embracing. We talked about doing this for so many years and now we’re loving sourcing new products and labels and getting great customer feedback which is just brilliant.
SM: And what has been your proudest moment?

Andy and Eleni: It is early days as we only launched this summer – on the date of our tenth anniversary as we wanted to make the date extra special! Our boys loved getting involved on photo-shoots and have made lovely models and our family have been incredibly supportive. We’re just very proud of them and our achievements so far.
SM:  What’s next for Fine Young Things?

Andy and Eleni: We will be bringing more beautiful children’s wear brands online such as DOT Portugal and some exclusive made to order ceremony pieces from Greece, so watch this space!

Editor’s pick: we’ve fallen for this dandy blue boy’s blazer, perfect for Xmas parties …

Order online from Fine Young Things

Images: FYT

 

Boutique Focus: Jessie & James

The Jessie and James story begins as a love affair across the cutting room floor at Vivienne Westwood, where they both worked. A little while (and son Billy) later their quirky-luxe childrenswear label was born, incorporating tartans and deconstructed tailoring and Victoriana – essentially taking the dreams of the dressing up box and incorporating them into hardworking, everyday fashion.

We caught up with Jessie and James for a chat…

Jessie and James pic 1

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

Jessie & James: We are currently just finalising the collection for AW16 and completing a new order for Selfridges who are stocking us this season, which we are very excited about!

SM: What’s on your mood board at the moment?

Jessie & James Lots of Ballet Russe images, Renaissance paintings and studies of flowers and design ideas for future collections.  Basically, things we like to look at!

Ballet Russes

SM: Which are your bestselling items?

Jessie & James: The Squiggle dress is always one of our best-sellers. It was actually the first girl’s dress we designed and today, it is still loved by our customers and now has become our signature piece.

 

For AW15 one of our favourite pieces is our Princess Coat and we hope our customers love it as much as we do! It really is fit for a princess – it has a very regal look and it epitomises what we are all about here at Jessie and James. It has a clever historical cut but with a twist. It has the most beautiful shape from the back which creates an amazing silhouette.

SM: And which items are Billy’s favourites?

Jessie & James: Billy being a boy loves the easy to wear jersey boys’ styles, particularly the Seekers trousers and Billy blazer jacket.  His favourite pieces normally have badges on them and he adores his new parka coat, he thinks he is an explorer, so it’s perfect for him!

 

SM: What are your biggest challenges, running the business?

Jessie & James: To be honest, as we have grown over the years, the biggest challenges are working with our factories to ensure the collections retain our high level of standards in terms of quality. We also need to make sure that all the goods arrive in good time to our retailers, so there’s a lot to juggle! The warehouse is also a big challenge for us, especially since our sales have continued to rise and the volume of daily shipments has increased. But… we have a wonderful team in place who help us to make sure the process runs smoothly both for ourselves but also for our customers and we have more time available to focus on the collections and other areas like marketing.

SM: And your proudest moment…?

Jessie & James: It has to be the fact that we started out by designing a small collection of baby and kidswear from our home in London and soon after we launched, Liberty London ordered our collection – we felt this was such a huge compliment for such a young brand! We’re hugely grateful to our retailers for stocking us and I’m proud to say we’re also stocked in Harvey Nichols and Childrensalon, with plans to expand internationally.

SM: We’ve spotted a few celeb kids rocking Jessie & James, who would you love to see wearing it?

Jessie & James: We like Gwen Stefani’s style so it would be great to see her boys in Jessie and James!

SM: What’s next for the brand?

Jessie & James: We plan to keep our growth continuing and to develop Jessie and James into a lifestyle rather than just a brand. Launching our first London flagship store is part of this five-year plan.

Shop online at Jessie & James.

Editor’s pick: we love the Wrap Me Up jacket, with it’s directional tie collar and the Roland Mouret-ish Bamboo Dress, which is currently on sale too!

Boutique Focus: Poco Nido

Poco Nido is a Sheffield-based little people’s clothing and footwear brand featuring bright, exclusive and well-designed items for stylish kids. We loved the range, which includes cheerful, adorable characters including company ‘mascot’ Ludwig the owl.

Poco Nido was founded in 2011 by Catherine Lobley, a busy working mum who was inspired to create her own unique and functional baby clothing and footwear line after working as a footwear designer in London.

Catherine Lobley 2

We caught up with Catherine (and colleague Joanna) to find out more about the business.

SM: Where does the design inspiration come from?

Catherine Lobley: My children inspire me, all the childhood things they love  and books, we love an illustrated book in our house, pictures can say so much without barriers. Travel in the Far East a lot with previous jobs has also made a huge impact on my taste levels. Basically what you see on the shoes is what happens in my head and luckily I found a creative director who seems to be exactly on the same wave length and level of quirkiness.

SM: Which is your best selling item?

Catherine Lobley: Owls, anything with owls, people are crazy for the owls. Mostly the mini shoes which are our core items.

SM: And which do your own children like best?

Catherine Lobley: My kids love everything, they’ve both taken part on early photo shoots enthusiastically, they have sneakers and t shirts and they voluntarily and proudly take every large public gathering as an opportunity to wear their kit. My son had every size of ankle welly as he grew up. He’s now five but would have been sporting a bonnet if he could have fitted his head into one. Jo has an adorable niece who also adores Poco Nido, her favourite item is the owls hi-top sneakers. These three kids are probably Poco Nido’s  biggest fans.

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

Catherine Lobley: Actually running the business. I am a designer by trade. I have learnt everything about running the business by actually doing it. If we had 3 wishes we’d spend them on more time, more sleep and more staff.

SM: And your proudest moment?

Catherine Lobley: It’s yet to happen. We have distribution all over the globe but the one thing yet to achieve is a shop in the UK. Real feel good moments are when we see kids wearing our shoes, or when all the new stock comes in and we open the boxes for the first time. 

SM: What’s next for the business?

Catherine Lobley: That’s top secret, sorry. We’re growing -that’s all you’re getting :-). 

SM: And finally (we had to ask) any plans to get a girlfriend for Ludwig the owl?

Catherine Lobley: Ludwig has a wife already, so I don’t think he’d be very pleased about that! A lot of the original placement print garments featured 4 owlsThey are Ludwig’s family, it was originally supposed to represent my family –if you look carefully you will see that the mummy owl has her eyes open while the rest of the family sleep. A private joke about the fact that I take care of everyone while they daydream (or I think I do, I’m sure my husband would see things differently).

Editor’s pick: we love Poco Nido’s tribute to their hometown with this map of Sheffield baby blanket.