Ethical and sustainable kids' clothing which is designed to be handed down
PUBLISHED: 09:47 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 15:40 17 May 2018
I first became aware of luxury baby clothing brand Tommy and Lottie Clothing through Instagram. Instantly taking a liking to the bold bright colours of the logos on their t-shirts; I was pleasantly surprised to see that they were a local business - based right here in St Albans!
I finally met the lovely Katie at a Milk’n’Fizz event and was really impressed with the quality of the clothing and the fact that she doesn’t make tonnes of different designs, but instead focuses on just a few - much like an exclusive restaurant where there are not many dishes available, but each one is exquisite.
I caught up with Katie to find out a bit more about what prompted her to start up the brand, what her background was before she had children, and where she sees the company going in the future.
What prompted you to set up the brand?
My two children Tommy and Lottie. I wanted to start a business that fitted round my life as a busy Mum of two as I did not want to go back to my corporate work life. I had previously spent years working in large companies in London and wanted to set up something myself and to create a brand that mean’t something and had a purpose. I could also involve my children to give them inspiration and business skills for later life.
What were you doing before, and how has the influenced what you do now?
Growing up in Sussex surrounded by beautiful countryside I understood nature from a very young age and how important it was to look after and appreciate. Having both parents as artists was also a big influence as I had a very creative upbringing and was always drawing animals as a kid.
I have always worked in retail and product management prior to having children. From leaving school I was accepted onto the Harrods management training scheme which was studying for a business qualification whilst working in a number of varied departments throughout the store. Here I learnt so many skills that I use in my business today, particularly customer service and luxury product aesthetics. So all this really has helped influence my business.
What do you think your brand brings that others don’t?
It unique, excellent quality and exclusive, not mass produced like so much clothing is on the high street - in other words it’s slow fashion. So much thought has gone into where the cotton is grown, how it is produced into fabric, who makes it, how they are treated and paid and what impact this all has on the environment. Our preference is to work with local businesses as this helps keep carbon footprint lower. The designs are hand drawn by me and all have a nature and nostalgia theme. We don’t use any plastic transfers on our clothing, only screen print with vegan friendly, water based inks or embroidery which we have recently used for our new panda organic sweatshirts for older kids.
These methods not only give a better quality finish but are also kinder to our planet. I am a big wildlife fan as I grew up in rural Sussex as a child and my parents taught me so much about nature. I am passionate about supporting species that are in decline and need our help such as hedgehogs and donate money, write information blogs for families about how to attract them into their gardens. I will be donating money to the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. Every year there is a Hedgehog Week and this year it runs from 6-12th May. We will be donating a % of money on every hedgehog product we sell in May.
All of the range is unisex as the whole brand ethos is to reuse, recycle, hand down to another child after use wether they are a girl or boy making us more sustainable. Quality clothing built to last whilst considering the environment.
Tell us about what you’ve been doing with ethical and sustainability labels.
I have just recently done a weekend of pop-up shops. One was in association with the global movement Fashion Revolution and was put together by Sian Conway the founder of Ethical Hour and Jo Salter from wheredoesitcomefrom. It was at the Museum Of Brands in London and bought ethical and sustainable fashion labels together for a day and included speakers, a fashion show and a chance to chat and showcase to the public who made my clothes and be more transparent and honest about the fashion industry, showing consumers where their garments come from, what fabrics they are made from and how and who makes them.
I have also been involved in Sustainable St Albans Week and attended the closing Know How event which was held at Fleetville Junior School. The event was brilliant as I had the chance to speak to people and showcase the range as well as meeting some local individuals and organisations really making an impact on ways to help towards the environment including ways to reduce plastic in our everyday lives which is a huge global problem effecting our oceans and food chain.
Both these events were very important to me to be involved in as it’s part of Tommy & Lottie’s brand vision and values.
Where do you see the brand in a year from now?
The range will be bigger as we are starting to do older sizes and offer kids wear so our main focus is to grow that and to do more with environmental awareness by introducing more animal designs to the range, sharing information, linking with like minded businesses, charities and organisations with the same values as us trying to help make a difference that us humans are having on the planet. We will be also doing more pop ups at the right events to meet all of our wonderful customers and so they can see and feel the quality of our clothing.
Getting a right royal treatment
Welcome to the world HRH Louis Arthur Charles. The third child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and fifth in line to the throne; the latest addition to the Royal Family has attracted media attention from around the world, and will surely continue to do so.
With the level of interest surrounding the steps of the Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital, it was only a matter of time before the Duke and Duchess arrived on the steps to show off their new arrival.
Much like any new parents, they undoubtedly were desperate to share their new bundle of joy with their families, and close friends, but it got me thinking about the pressures they must have been under to have the eyes of the world on their brand new baby.
Most mothers, and i’m sure fathers too (but I can only speak from my own experience), couldn’t think of anything worse than the vulnerability that you likely feel mere hours after giving birth, and the protective feeling that you have towards your newborn, combined with having to show them off to the waiting media, and have them exposed to the glare of the flashbulbs, within their first few hours on Earth.
This is the expectation of course, and the “duty” of the Royal Family - that they are expected to share their highs, lows, and most private moments, with the general public. We somehow feel as though we have a right to know - I personally was on holiday when the new Prince was born, and I have to admit that I was checking my phone and timeline on social media on a regular basis, first to find out when he had been born, and then with interest to find out what they had chosen to name him.
Bets had been placed, opinions were shared, and newspaper headlines bore the newest Royal’s names. Everybody seemed to have an opinion on what had been chosen, and what the name should, or shouldn’t be.
It seems bizarre that for William and Kate, they didn’t just have to consider the names that they liked, or even a name that they thought would suit their new baby when they met him, but also all kinds of tradition, and expectation, and I’m sure in some respects, some manner of deference to be paid to the baby’s grandparents - nobody could have missed the inclusion of the name Charles, much like his older sister’s middle names mirroring HM The Queen - Elizabeth, and William’s late mother - Diana.
In addition to the huge amount of press attention to catch a glimpse of the baby for the first time, there were a lot of column inches written about how the Duchess of Cambridge looked for this first appearance.
A matter of hours after giving birth to her third child, she was primped, and preened, and looking immaculate on the steps of the hospital, presenting her son.
Many mothers took to social media, sharing photographs of themselves just after having their children - highlighting the fact that the majority of mothers don’t/can’t/wouldn’t ever look so well turned out, and that for most people, they are hiding away in a hospital room and recovering!
Many of these posts were in support of Kate - they felt sorry that she was in a situation where this was expected of her, and were sympathetic to a new mother who hadn’t been afforded the luxury of getting to know her new child without having to share him with millions of people so soon.
Some however were inevitably envious in their tone - and slightly scornful that anyone - Royal, celebrity, or otherwise, who might make other new mothers feel bad, for not being able to live up to such standards, and perhaps presenting an unrealistic image of how anyone can look, such a short time after giving birth.
I don’t think any of us are under any illusion that there hadn’t been a hairdresser, make-up artist, and dresser there on hand, to make her look wonderful as soon as she was able to stand up again, and I’m also fairly sure that underneath that immaculate outfit, the lovely Duchess was probably feeling pretty sore, and packing some hefty maternity pads!
I think we have to be realistic of what we want as a general public too. As a member of the Royal family, the Duchess of Cambridge bears a huge weight of expectation to always be looking immaculate. If she had come out to meet the press wearing a huge baggy jumper, and a pair of maternity dungarees, i’m fairly sure she would have met with even greater scorn - the poor girl just can’t win.
In my opinion - any woman who gives birth - water birth, caesarian section, vaginal delivery, epidural, drugs, no drugs.. whatever it takes to bring that baby, or babies, into the world - is an absolute hero.
If you look horrendous afterwards, if you come out of hospital with a full face of makeup, and a new manicure, or if you don’t wash your hair for the next six weeks - it doesn’t really matter - what matters is that you get to spend some important time battening down the hatches, locking out the rest of the world, and getting to know your new baby with those who love, and nurture you. I hope and pray that the Cambridges get a chance to do this over the coming weeks, before they are expected to get back on the treadmill of public engagements again.