This week we bring you the super talented Louise from Jax & Hedley. She is the founder and designer of this amazing unisex brand for children who always wanted to create cool clothing for kids and this was never more apparent than when she had her first child.
Finding it increasingly difficult to find stylish design-led clothes for her little one, she too wanted to break away from normality. Louise took the remainder of her savings to buy some fabric and get her sewing machine serviced. She designed a pattern on some old newspaper and created a pair of harem leggings, and in doing so established this super cool brand.
What made you start?
I learned to sew whilst working at Levi’s. I got given my first sewing machine as a christmas present and began to experiment with making my own clothes. I used to make a few bits for my (now) husband David too! When I had my little boy Reid in 2013 I didn’t want to go back to full time work, I could also never find cool clothes for him on the high street and so beginning my own Children’s clothing line was the perfect solution to both problems. I’ve always loved to paint, draw, design and make things!
What were you doing before?
I decided to stop doing my A-levels after completing only one year, as all i was ever interested in was becoming a dance teacher and unfortunately my A-level dance teacher quit half way through! Making the decision to leave sixth-form meant that I had to find a job so that I could pay board at home, so since I was seventeen i worked in fashion retail! I worked for Levi’s, Guess, Yves Saint Laurent and Jack Wills working my way up through the ranks and i’ve been able to use a lot of the skills i learnt to build and run J&H! Just before I fell pregnant with Reid I left retail to pursue dancing again. I used to travel to first and junior schools teaching dance to under 9’s as well as teaching Bokwa and FitSteps (dance fitness) to adults of an evening. I’m also a qualified nail technician, spray tanner and make-up artist!!
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m drawn to monochrome and bold patterns and so it was an obvious choice to echo this in J&H designs. The inspiration for the AW16 collection is quite simply, winter landscapes. There are two patterns which run throughout the collection, one being an abstract mountain range and the other being cracked ice. The Oak-buff colour that features in the collection was inspired by the warm colours in a lit fire. Together the create a mix and match collection with a great balance of warm and cool tones, patterns and block colours.
My son and daughter inspire the shapes and quality of the garments. Watching them run and crawl around all day long I know how important it is for kids to wear comfortable, soft fabrics that will wear well with time. Therefore the entire collection is made from the softest Italian peached cotton! It’s so soft in fact that when we showcased the collection at the Playtime Paris tradeshow, a lady told us that it felt like a cloud!
Where do you live with your family, and can you tell us a little bit about your set up?
We live in a new first floor city centre apartment in Norwich. Its spacious and minimal with scandi inspired furniture. We hope to move to a big family home with a garden next year, but for now David has a 5 minute walk to work and I have everything that I could possibly need right on the doorstep!
How do you find being a working Mother?
It’s hard work! The hardest time was when I was pregnant with Aria, i had horrendous morning sickness and could barely stand, trying to potty train Reid, with David working two jobs and I had a list of around 40 items that I needed to hand make for customers. But i like to think that, that’s as hard as it will ever be! Now I’ve moved to the manufacture stage and also have a depot to ship my orders, I get a lot of my time back. I no longer have to sew until 3am and my weekends are no longer consumed with packing orders.But even now, It’s a complete juggling act that I’m yet to master!!
Working with Reid running around shouting asking twenty million questions and Aria attached to me because she’s needy is really tough! Everything I do is for them though and that makes it easier to swallow. I’d love to get J&H to a point where it’s successful enough to one day hand over to them should they wish
What is the hardest thing you’ve found being a Mother?
Losing your sense of self, and feeling under pressure after having my first to be the ‘perfect mum’. Second time around it was different as I had already learned a lot and I was more relaxed because I realised that what everyone else thinks is of no importance as long as my babies are happy and healthy. To maintain my sense of self I try to make as much time for myself as possible so that I can still do some of the things I used to enjoy doing before having kids otherwise i’m only a mum and no longer Louise. But it’s not always possible and sometimes I have days where I don’t get dressed or leave the house!
How would you describe your own style?
Minimal messy mum! I wear mostly black and grey but sometimes I will throw a bit of nude/camel or white in for a change. I prefer dressing for Autumn and Winter as I love to layer! My go to outfit is black jeans, white kicks and a blazer style coat. At home I can usually be seen with my hair pulled back, sweatpants and baggy tee, no bra or makeup on and some kind of child-related-stain on my clothes!
Who is your style icon?
I don’t tend to read magazines or look to celebrities for inspiration, I much prefer to browse through Pinterest or Instagram for street style! I’ve got hundreds of ‘pins’ saved to my ‘Style’ board!!
What is your guilty pleasure?
Donuts. Any shape, and size, any flavour, and any time of the day! On my way home from a recent business trip to London I bought six different donuts before the train ride back to Norwich and I fully intended to share them when I got home. Needless to say there were none left by the time the train pulled into the station.
When are you happiest?
Family Sundays. When David has finished his Friday and Saturday night DJ work and there is nothing left to do but to chill together as a family, whether that be cuddling and watching a film on the sofa, or taking a trip to the local zoo! I love listening to the kids laugh, they play together so well and Reid turns into a little clown.
What is next for Jax & Hedley
We had a lot of feedback whist exhibiting at the Playtime Paris and Dot to Dot London trade shows to accommodate older children and so next year you can expect the size range to increase from 6m-5y to 6m-9years. We also plan to expand the collections to include more styles. I always have a million ideas running through my head and it takes me a while to narrow them down, but for Spring-Summer 2017 I had a really clear vision. You can expect light, bright airy designs with a playful undertone.
And finally what is your favourite piece from Hip Little People?
Actually there’s quite a few pieces from your interiors collection that I have got my eye on. I’m going to be re-designing the kids room over the coming months so keep an eye out for my order!