run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Tuesday 12 April 2016

Sick on my suit: the mama behind The Bright Company

In the Old Days I'd get obsessed with new heels or an Anthropologie skirt sale or a new office trench. Now? My absolute favourite new item of clothing is a pair of PJs. Which match my baby's. Yup, but before you judge, they are pretty amazing...

They're from The Bright Company, and mine - dubbed MamaJyms - are such, such soft cotton that I put them on about 7pm and love lounging in them all evening: cosy grey leggings, a long tunic-style top in beehive print, (only downside being it's a bit chilly to breast-feed in, as you have to lift-up), seriously comfy but not embarrassing to answer the door to the postman in... 
But of course, that's not why they're my favourite thing - that's because my tiny man has a babygrow in matching beehive print. So we can do the whole #twinningiswinning thing and pad around together for excellent selfies. And since this isn't enough cuteness, I'm about to click 'buy' on Dada Jyms so the three of us can have some super-stylish lazy Sunday mornings...

And then I started following TBC on Instagram, and then I started reading about how the business came to being, and it swiftly became obvious that founder Alienor would be a fab candidate for Sick on my suit: Run Out of Womb's series asking working mums, entrepreneurs and high-flying corporates how they do it.

Here company founder Alienor, who is 32 and lives in Brighton, lifts the lid on The Bright Company's inception...

How many kids do you have and what are their ages? 

We have two kids, Corwin 5 and Effie 3

Where did your The Bright Company's idea come from?

I worked in fashion  and after I had Corwin I was keen to seek out more interesting clothes than the usual highstreet offering, I found loads of amazing kidswear but couldn't find any decent nightwear. It seemed to me that nightwear is really important to children to the idea sparked from there.

How did you launch it?

A friend called me when I was back at work deciding if I wanted to quit or not and offered to share a studio space with me. I jumped at the chance and sat there cold calling factories and fabric suppliers until I had one willing to work with us.

Can you describe an average day? EG when you wake up, family time / work time, meals, etc. 

Most days the family all get up together, my husband and I juggle getting ourselves and the kids ready and fed before we have to rush out to work or school. I drop Corwin at school first then Effie at nursery which is two minutes around the corner from our studio. Then the rest of the day I'm working away and I go back to either pick up the kids or to relieve my mum (who looks after them) at supper time. I always see the kids for bed time and at the beginning of the day, I love that. If I'd have stayed working in Fashion I would be missing out on that connection with them.

What's the balance of running family and entrepreneur life?

It's more of a juggle than a balance! Each day is slightly different but we make it work, we now finally feel like we have enough childcare so I'm not trying to work with the kids around which makes us all more relaxed.

What have you had to sacrifice?

Money! Starting a business can be a long road to making money for yourself, if you are aware of that and up for it then it's ok, but there are days when I miss my corporate salary! 

What are your top tips to other working mums? 

Try to organise your time so there are clear boundaries between home life and work life. Nothing makes you feel worse than trying to work whilst the kids need your attention...

How did you feel about going back to work after maternity leave - any tips for those about to do so who feel scared or worried?

Gosh, I can remember it quite clearly. In the lead up to going back it felt quite daunting, I felt like I now had no clue what was going on in the fashion world,and I didn't care that much any more. My time felt so much more precious and I had no time at all for office politics any more. I didn't want to go back but felt like I needed to try it to be sure, I'm glad I did.

Any mistakes along the way?

We did a Christmas market during our first year of trading, we thought it would be amazingly busy, but it was just full of nick-nacks and all the customers were 80+! It was so depressing at the time, we sold two pairs of pyjamas in two days (and didn't come back for the third day) and we lost a few hundred pounds, but we learnt a lot about targeting the right audience! We laugh about how awful it was now...


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