Introducing Donna McCulloch, as she’s known to most of us, SulkyDoll – Stylist, Fashion EditorRiddle Magazine and Brand Ambassador – oh and she just so happens to be a hot Mama too.
Donna and I”met” through IG and eventually IRL at a Mothers Meeting x M&Sevent – where we bonded over our shared love for The ‘Toon (having both studied up in Newcastle). As a stylist, she has worked with the hilarious and vibrant Scummy Mummies and cake-maker of dreams, Juliet Sear.
Sulky is one of the most hardworking, genuine, honest, caring and colourful people you could ever wish to meet.
CB: HELLO SULKS PET, please introduce yourself and your concept. DM: So I’m Donna aka SulkyDoll, I’m a Stylist and a Mama. My job is varied as I am a personal stylist for both Men and Women, my most famous clients are the Scummy Mummies but I also style editorials for brands and magazines, I am the Fashion Contributor for Riddle Magazine and cover London Fashion Week as their Correspondent but I also run style events and I am very proud to be a brand ambassador for Donna Ida.
CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your name? DM: My brand name is so unique to me, it’s my childhood nickname.
CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept? DM: A lifelong love of fashion led me to re-train in fashion in my 30s. I worked very hard and bossed it and it paid off.
CB: What is your brand ethos? DM: Be the best possible version of yourself.
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you? DM: A million different things, I see inspiration everywhere, film, music, buildings, travel, friends and other fashion industry creatives whom I admire.
CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up? DM: I have my first TV credit this month as one of my clients has their own to show this launches in May and I was the stylist/wardrobe for the show… I’ll keep you posted.
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia? DM: Wipes! Even now my kids are older, they are the one thing you should have on your person at all times.
CB: Anything you wished you known before becoming a parent / best piece of parenting advice? DM: That kids do things in their own time, at their own speed, don’t push them to eat what they don’t want, potty train when they aren’t ready and sleep 7 hours when they are 7lbs!!!
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without? DM: Bronzer, my son didn’t sleep until he was 2 and I looked like death for those 2 years but bronzer hid a lot of tiredness during those days as I faked the sun kissed look.
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it? DM: That’s a hard one, working when they have something like an assembly or sport’s day, I try to make as much as I can but I find it heartbreaking to miss something. I don’t have any tips other than that a happy Mama is a happy child and guilt serves no purpose whatsoever.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out? DM: Running and hot baths plus Kate Bush at full volume.
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops? DM: I love for me, Donna Ida, Rixo, Zara and H&M, and the last 2 are fab for the kids and my husband too.
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why? DM: My bf jeans as they are so easy to dress up or down.
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday. DM: Manic, sunny and coffee fuelled.
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people. DM: Erm… I love horses and my earliest memory is of me on my Aunt’s horse, Seamus.
CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? DM: Wow, good q, I have been very lucky to have met many people who have championed me and given me wings….too many to reduce to one.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year. DM: Lion is one of the best films I’ve ever seen but I loved La La Land, Big Little Lies was my fave series on tv, albums? Lemonade and 4:44, am a big fan of the Carter Knowles power couple & any book by Kate Atkinson.
CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view? DM: My angel wings, they are in my garden.
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why? DM: Berlin! I am desperate to go, the fashion scene is insane.
DM: Thank you for these fab q’s and I am so happy to have met you Judy Pink xx
Thank you so much for taking the time out for our chat Donna!
DID YOU KNOW?
90% of women wear 10% of their wardrobe, if you are one of the 90% then Sulky Doll Styling can help. Whether its discovering your signature style, up-dating your current look or you are just looking for some help with restructuring your wardrobe contact Sulky Doll Styling with your requirements. To book Sulky Doll Styling, read about the SERVICES and get in touch via her CONTACT form.
Anyway – I just had to share this brilliant FLASH SALE offer that I just spied on the Cowshed site. The stunning, and really handy, Travel Countdown Calendar! First off, the price is usually £65.00, but for a limited time only (and only available at Cowshedonline.com & in Cowshed Spa’s), the price during this mega flash sale is £32.50! Yep, that’s half price for this beauty. So, what’s in the box?
11 flight-friendly versions of best-loved Cowshed products, the new travel calendar has everything you need to prep for your holiday as well as when you reach your destination! Calendar includes: Cowlick Gentle Shampoo 30ml, Saucy Cow Conditioner 30ml, Gorgeous Cow Body Lotion 100ml, Cow Slip Soothing Hand Cream 50ml, Lavender Gentle Cleanser 30ml, Chamomile Refreshing Toner, Apricot Nourishing Cuticle Oil 11ml, Cow Slip Natural Antibacterial Hand Gel 50ml, Wild Cow Bath & Body Oil 30ml, Cow Pit Spray Deo 10ml, Gorgeous Cow Bath & Shower Gel 100ml
As always , Cowshed products are Made in England using natural ingredients. The Travel Calendar makes for the perfect pre-holiday treat or as its wedding season, how about as a honeymoon gift?
As I mentioned, this flash sale is a limited time only – so I’ve added this to >THE SHOP // here < for ease of shopping!
Zara HOME | Kids have just launched their AW17 campaign: Little Adventures – and it does not disappoint. There are several ranges, that can of course be mixed and matched up for a bespoke theme to you. This season Zara take inspiration from the woodland, grown up Industrial meets Scandi and traditions prints & pastels.
I particularly like the Industrial and reworked style pieces. They look so unique – definitely not something you’d imagine picking up on the high street! The Scandi themes make for a relaxed slumber, while the pastels and prints create a vintage feel.
The Kids Home range doesn’t stop at the sleeping quarters though; there are also bathroom textiles and accessories as well as a dining range.
There are some really lovely pieces to mix & match up and take inspiration from – perfect for refreshing your current Child-space, or curating a brand new room! Shop The Little Adventures range, here.
Quintessentially British brand, Liberty, is world-renowned for its iconic prints. Recently launched, they’ve teamed up with TOPSHOP to rediscover the print archives, on modern designs.
This season, three designs from the archive decorate Topshop dresses, skirts and tops in fresh new colourways. Choose
between Elderberry, a hand-drawn berry pattern in blue, yellow and green rose, along with a scattered pansy print in pink and the familiar Capel print – a floral motif from the 1970s now in redesigned in red.
I do love a Vintage print – this Minimalism journey hasn’t stripped that from me (yet!). And these styles are so lovely and summery too. Team with a leather biker & ankle boots to finish the look.
See my favourite pieces below // all pieces from the collection are available in The Shop.
Meet the wonderful Kerrie-Anne Bradley, co-founder of beautiful site and Chief IG-er for London Mothers Club. Kerrie-Anne is a Pilates teacher & Mama to Ivy. Like me, she’s also an avid fan of The Libertines (and perhaps, not so secretly, of Harry Styles!). With arguably the best wardrobe on IG (oh the bags and shoes she has!), Kerrie-Anne has a keen sartorial eye and lust for London life. She’s also someone I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with over IG for a long while – but sadly, we’ve never yet managed to meet up IRL! We need to sort that pet!
Here, Kerrie chats to me about her inspirations, the inevitable Mum-Guilt and her go-to fashion brands.
CB: HELLO KA! Firstly, please introduce yourself and your concept. K-AB: Hello, I am Kerrie-Anne! Mum to a very hilarious 5 year old called Ivy, a pilates teacher and founder of London Mothers Club. I used to be an economist too but that feels like a lifetime ago now. London Mothers Club is a lifestyle edit for mamas featuring mamas we meet on our journey, places we visit and things we love. It’s mostly a bit of fun and focussed on sharing cool stuff with like-minded mamas.
CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept? K-AB: It began in my flat in Kings Cross 5 years ago. I was lonely as I didn’t have any fellow mama mates, so I set up a few events in a few different places in London to try to meet some mums who liked similar stuff to me. At the time I was really into making jewellery and so I held some crafty events in Chiswick, Clapham and Islington. I connected with the mums who came to my Clapham event most and so we moved there and LMC was born. In the old days we used to run 2-3 events per year. We rebranded as a lifestyle edit in September last year and so far, all is going well.
CB: What is your brand ethos? K-AB: Only share positive stuff about things that we genuinely like. We trial everything before featuring it.
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you? K-AB: Cliché for a Mum to say but definitely my little Ivy. She’s so full of life, clever, witty and creative. She inspires me to be a better version of me – less grumpy and anxious. God, I’m welling up writing this. Actually, that’s a good point. Ivy has brought out a softer side in me. I never used to cry and now I bawl at anything and everything!
My pilates mentor Sarah Woodhouse. She’s been in the business a long time, is one of the most intelligent people I know (along with my husband Timmy K) and she’s so passionate about what she does. I’m constantly learning from her and I am so pleased to have met her on my Pilates journey.
CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up? K-AB: Because we are a lifestyle edit we are constantly reviewing cool places and things. There’s nothing major to share but definitely tune in as we are pretty good at seeking out new things that you will love!
CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice? K-AB: Well my friend who doesn’t have kids told me that her mate had told her that giving birth to a placenta was worse than the birth itself. So…. When I had done the Ivy bit (and ouch) I started freaking out thinking the worst bit was to come. Of course it wasn’t true. And of course I was being ridiculously dumb in ever thinking that could be the case. Ha, sorry not strictly parenting advice but I can’t really think of any and that was the thing that popped into my head. Oops!
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia? K-AB: Wipes. Ivy constantly has stuff on her face, in her hair, on her clothes, on my clothes, in my hair, in her bum etc etc you know the drill…
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without? K-AB: Headphones?? Ha, just kidding. My mum-essential would be paper and colours. Ivy is obsessed and it’s a sure way to get her stopping with the, ‘can we do paper, scissors, rock again mama’ everywhere we go.
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it? K-AB: When I get a shouty about things that are pretty small just because I’m an impatient bugger and sometimes the, ‘can we play paper, scissors, rock’ on repeat gets on my nerves…. Always solved with a big hug and a couple more rounds of the dreaded game.
On a more serious note, I also get the guilt sometimes about choosing to only have one child. Ivy is pretty independent around other kids and sometimes I worry that she prefers her own time because she doesn’t have any siblings at home (she does have three half-siblings who live in Oxford). Also, when other mums say, “aren’t you tempted to have another. It would be nice for ivy etc” that brings on the guilt. But whenever I ask Ivy if she’d like another sibling her answer is always the same, “Why would I want another brother or sister when I have some already, I have my cousin Edie and I’ve got my babies (a crew of 10 dolls).” So I think it’s alright.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out? K-AB: I am not very good at zoning out tbh. I’m constantly on the move and splitting my time between my various jobs. I do love a facial and go to a fantastic girl duo at Nichola Joss. She’s a shelb fav so it makes me feel pretty important as well as relaxed haha.
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops? K-AB: I love &OtherStories, Wood Wood, Ganni for everyday wear, Tophop and Zara for jeans, Bella Freud for a logo jumper, Burberry for a trench, Aurore UK for Breton, Eric Bompard for cashmere, L’urv for leggings and Solid & Striped for a swimsuit. My biggest binge is on shoes and I have an epic collection of Gucci, Charlotte Olympia, Valentino, Miu Miu, Saint Laurant etc – all stuff that I can’t really afford now/ need now as I am an activewear wearing Pilates teacher.
For Ivy I love Greenberry Kids, Minouche (Australian), Caramel Baby, a new brand called Little Borne for the ultimate jogger combo, everything from Archie’s Boutique (she picks well) and Papouelli for shoes.
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why? K-AB: A leopard-print pair of Saint Laurent booties which I wear once in a blue moon (below).
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday. K-AB: Cold, busy and long.
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people. K-AB: Well I am an over-sharer on social media so people know a lot about me. I guess there are lots of funny things about me I could share but that would be a bit predictable so I will share something closer to my heart. When I was 18 my best friend died unexpectedly. She was my first soul-mate and I have missed her every day since. The wonderful thing is that little Ivy has certain aspects of Carmel’s personality and I like to tell myself that her spirit lives on through my little girl. God, I am crying again….
CB: Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? K-AB: This is a tricky one isn’t it?? To be honest I am not sure that I can pin-point a particularly moment but my husband Tim is such a kind person and always has my back.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year. K-AB: I didn’t read it this year but I always recommend Just Kids by Patti Smith because it is a beautifully written journey of love & friendship. It gets me every time.
CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view? K-AB: The road. I am sitting in Planet Organic, Wandsworth. I am working in here because my wifi is down again.
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why? K-AB: In Vivamayr in Austria because it is this amazing retreat that specialises in gut health and I have loads of digestive problems.
Thank you so much for taking the time out for our chat Kerrie-Anne. It’s been so lovely getting to digitally know you over the past few years. You’re one of the most lovely and genuine people I’ve yet to actually meet – and I’m gonna give you the BIGGEST SQUEEZE ever when we finally get our diaries aligned.
Meet Johanna Rossi, an Architecture graduate turned health coach, champion of women, Brit born, now long time Monaco resident and Mama of two!
Johanna is the founder of Raising Women – a brilliant community of connections and support that gives back to women less fortunate. A podcast to help mothers feel less alone and a coaching service to be able to do what Johanna loves best; supporting women to reach their potential.
Johanna talked to me about her inspirations, her support network, giving back and collaborations.
CB: Hello Johanna, first off, please introduce yourself and your background. JR: I’m Johanna the founder of Raising Women, I’m also a mum of two, British and have been living in Monaco for the last 16 years. I have a very creative background and then studied to be a health coach when I had my children.
CB: Where did Raising Women all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept? JR: Raising Women began when I was running a 6 week workshop called Nourish Camp here in Monaco, during that time I had a lightbulb moment that the women who I was working with have so many common doubts about life, even though they were on such different paths, and I wanted to form a community that would help them feel less alone in their journeys.
CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your brand name? JR: Oh goodness, it took me ages, really, I think it took me around a month to finalise the name. I did so much brain storming, played with words etc. in the end I settled on Raising Women.
CB: What is your brand ethos? JR: It’s really about acceptance of where another woman is on their journey and offering as much support as possible.
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you? JR: So much inspires me, but I think on a day to day basis, it’s those little connections that are made that help me to make a little more sense of my journey. Being inspire by just how amazing the universe is and finding all the little pieces of my jigsaw.
CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up? JR: If you have been following me online recently you will know that I’ve given up coaching, at the moment I’m going to be dedicating all my work time to painting and writing, so I’m very much in the making stage.
CB: Best piece of business advice? JR: Make it sustainable. You’ll learn a lot about what you really want to be doing if you take on too much, as eventually a lot of things will have to give, but try and feel your way through your business ideas and make sure you feel at ease with them in the first place. Don’t take on things that make you anxious or don’t feel right, just because that is what you feel like you should be doing. Also in terms of time, you need to be at your best for you family so make sure what you are doing can fit in to a schedule that will allow you time to look after yourself and sleep.
CB: How do you juggle being a working Mama? JR: As you say I juggle. I’m lucky in the sense that I work from home and fit my work around the kids schedule, I have little help and it is overwhelming and exhausting at times, but I’m learning what works and doesn’t for all the family.
CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a Mama / best piece of parenting advice? JR: Very good question. I’d wish I’d know a lot more than I did, I think what I would have loved to known more about is the journey it would send me off on.
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia? JR: My children and 8 and 4 now, so I’m at that stage where I carry less around with me. It’s really silly but a packet of tissues! I’ve been in some really awkward situations when I’ve forgotten to put a packet in my bag!
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without? JR: I’m not sure I have a go to item, I would say it would be more my ‘non-negotiables’, having fresh produce in the house and my herbal tea in the afternoon or evening, I love eating fresh whole foods and that also keep me feeling good.
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it? JR: How much time have you got! So many things. I’m not good at being separated from them, I worry constantly, and I’m not sure I have really found a cure! I’m OK when they are in there routines at school etc. but I’m not good if I have to leave them with someone else.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out? JR: I love to hike, bike, walk, write and create, if I’m really tired and need real chill out time them a good movie.
CB: You’re an avid supporter of Women and the Sisterhood – is there anyone who you’d like to give a shout out to? JR: Of course, however my list is so so long. I’ve met so many women along my journey who I’ve connected with for different reasons. I’m so grateful for all the women who have support my work, but moreover I’m grateful to those who have wholeheartedly accepted my journey and not questioned it. Those women know who they are and that I have a lot of love for them!
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops? JR: Oh to be honest I don’t really have any! We live very differently here and I’m not a huge shopper, weird right?!
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why? JR: A floaty Summer dress, as it has suddenly got very hot here!
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday. JR: Full, long, chaotic
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people. JR: Oh erm, not sure what to say, I’m not good around people, especially new people or large groups. I get extremely anxious.
CB: You’re exceptionally caring and have created a growing-collection of beautiful items – with the added conscience that you’re giving back. You have chosen to give proceeds with every Charitee sold to CARE INTERNATIONAL UK (who support women and girls living in poverty and help them overcome inequality and fulfil their potential), how did the collaboration with CARE come about? JR: Oh thank you! Yes I donate to Care and also to Look Good Feel Better UK and now to Gender Hopes Monaco. I wanted a business that gave back in some way. I’ve not had an easy journey, but I’ve had a good education that has allowed me to bring my ideas to fruition. I’m very aware that not everybody gets this opportunity and this is why I started working with Care. Emma aka The Fashion Craver chose the charity Look Good Feel Better for our collab on the Sistas Tee and I then chose Gender Hopes for the girl’s tees as I wanted to support a charity which dealt with issues for our younger generation too.
CB: What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? JR: Again this is a hard one. More recently I have to give a little shout out to Emma and Becky (Lady Bakewell-Park), we have never met yet these to women have supported me through a very difficult period of my life.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year. JR: Women who run with the wolves, I listened to it recently on audiobook, it’s like it was written for me!
CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view? JR: Rooftops and mountains.
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why? JR: On my own in a big art studio, painting and writing. I have so much pent up creativity in me that needs to come out, I need space, time and headspace for it to do that and in my apartment with the demands of running a home and family that is difficult.
CB: Anything else you’d like to add in! JR: Thank you for having me on to chat and also to all the women who have helped make Raising Women what it is today!
Johanna, its been a pleasure getting to know more about you – and watching your beautiful artwork! You’re one talented lady! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat!
#raisingwomen is a coaching service and an ever growingcommunity of like minded women sharing their stories of navigating motherhood and solving the mystery of becoming their authentic selves. It’s a sistahood based on connection, support, honesty, trust and a hunger to fulfil their potential and live their fullest lives possible.
“I believe that every woman deserves a chance to become the best version of herself and live the best version of life in her own unique way. My mission is to help mothers strike a healthy balance between raising babies and raising their woman within”
Having always been a fan of Alexa Chung’s style (since waaaaay back the golden ages of the T4 days), I was looking forward to the launch of her own fashion label, ALEXACHUNG. Alexa, is of course no stranger to fashion design, with a decade of experience to her name, for brands such as MADEWELL, Superga and Marks & Spencer. But this is the first time we can really see what Alexa wants us to wear – the ‘proper’ designs and concepts by Alexa herself. And having looked at her 150 piece range, I can confirm that “its sooooo Alexa“. You can see that Alexa is heavily influenced by her favourite cities (New York & Paris) with an added bit of her wicked British humour to boot.
ALEXACHUNG returned from New York this year to creatively direct a business distinctively tied to her British roots.
At the heart of the brand, Alexa’s vision: to create clothes that people want to wear. Combining Parisian chic with a New York edge, as well as the very British sense of humour, it is inspired by everything from Jane Birkin’s insouciance to David Hockney’s stripy sweater.
ALEXACHUNG prides itself on its unique approach to making clothes, combining distinctive fabrics and prints with classic tailoring alongside more feminine designs. The result is a carefully considered, alluring combination of prim, racy and rock ‘n’ roll, where frivolous party pieces interact with grown-up tailoring and classic silhouettes.
ALEXACHUNG will produce four in-season collections per year internationally, with stockists in over fifteen countries.
I’m super excited to share the ‘Chats To‘ feature from these gorgeous chops ! Meet Steph Douglas, mega-Mama of 2 (soon to be 3!), founder of brilliant business, Don’t Buy Her Flowersand one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met!
Here, Steph talks to us about the drive to start up Don’t Buy Her Flowers, The Man Package and being the daughter to a Vicar. Oh and FYI, Steph and the other INCREDIBLY TALENTED women that were featured in that horrendously inaccurate Daily Fail ‘article’ are worth SO MUCH more to their family, friends and I for one am inspired daily by these wonderful women who go above and beyond in life. I’ve never skim-read something so atrocious, EVER. The article, simply put, boiled down to shoddy so-called journalism from a very jealous battle-axe. These women juggle a million plates without dropping a single one – whilst also maintaining their own businesses and careers, their home and all the while also making their own families, or the families of complete strangers, feel loved.
ANYWAY! Not gonna give them any more airtime than they have already been so lucky to have.
Over to you Steph!
CB: Firstly, please introduce yourself and your brand. SD: I’m Steph and my business is Don’t Buy Her Flowers – we sell thoughtful gift packages.
CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with your name? SD: Well…ours is a pretty clear idea of what we’re not! The name came really quickly, because of where the idea for the business came from. Lots of brands have really abstract names and unless you’ve lots of money so that people will know what your brand is – which I knew we didn’t – having a name that is very clear is definitely a help.
CB: Where did it all begin? What inspired you to start up your concept? SD: It started after I had my first baby and I received eight bunches of flowers from lovely family and friends who wanted to say ‘congratulations’. I was sitting on the sofa feeling overwhelmed and sore and leaky and the bouquets made me feel worse. It was another thing to care for and I just didn’t have the energy – or the vases! I also found that the things people did that showed they knew how I was feeling and what I needed, whether that was food parcels or the friend that came and did my ironing and held the baby while I bathed the toddler, or just the message from a friend saying “BTW I found breastfeeding hard initially and it might take a while so don’t panic, you’re doing great”, meant so much. It’s very easy to get caught up in the joy of a new baby, and it is a joy, but it’s also many other things including exhausting and I think new mums need looking after. We launched as gifts for new mums and then very quickly our customers wanted to sendour packages for Get Well, Bereavement, Birthdays – any occasion when someone needs a little TLC.
CB: What is your brand ethos? SD: The idea and everything we do centres around thoughtfulness. We see lots of gorgeous products all the time, but unless they help someone in a practical sense or offer some TLC, they’re not right forour packages.
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you? SD: There is an awesome growing network of women doing their own thing and trying to figure out the juggle along with our position in society and how to still be a mother and a partner and a friend and I’m inspired by that community all the time. It doesn’t mean it’s easy or we all get it right, but we’re all trying to work it out in our own way.
CB: Can you tell us about or give us a sneaky peak of something new that’s coming up? SD: We introduced The Man Package a few months ago – our customers asked us for a version of our Care Package for men. They’ve been sent for Birthdays, New Dad’s and Get Well Mostly, and as Father’s Day is coming up (18th June folks!!) we’ve added golfing and gardening magazine options for the older chaps. We’ve also got a Gluten Free Care Package coming up, which is again in response to customers asking for it.
CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you became a parent / best piece of parenting advice? SD: The biggest thing I wish I’d known is that people weren’t actually judging me and my choices, and all that time I spent worrying about whether I was getting it ‘right’ I was doing my best and that was all my children ever needed. Mostly I think new mums need to be kind to themselves as we generally are not.
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia? SD: It used to be wipes but currently it’s colouring and activity books. Buster and Mabel are really in to them so we can go for food and not be in that intense ‘ORDER NOW!’ rush as we walk through the door, which we were in a couple of years ago. They’re both pretty obsessed with the iPad but we haven’t cracked it out in restaurants yet… will see how long we can keep that up!
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without? SD: Let’s go with my Tiba + Marlbag. Even though they’re officially changing bags, I got it after mine were out of nappies so it’s never carried baby stuff, but it is always rammed with snacks and felt tips and has a protective bit for my laptop so I use it every day. As a back pain sufferer, the rucksack is a saviour. Thankfully they’ve made it a stylish accessory!
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it? SD: The juggle. Trying to do too much and then dropping balls and realising I can’t do it all and that something has to give. My favourite thing is weekends with no plans except to hang out as a four. It gives us a chance to recalibrate and the kids are always happiest when we’re not distracted or rushing out the door to meet people and be in line with other people’s timetables. I like seeing other people too (!) but I think with busy jobs and school and nursery, time to be just us is always just what we need and means we start the week a little calmer.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out? SD: I love reading but for some reason it had become something I only did on holidays. I don’t sleep that well and find if I relax with a book before bed I sleep better, so I’ve just bought a load and love the escapism.
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops? SD: If I go in to &Other Stories I can guarantee I’ll find something (or a few things) I’ll love. Bimba Y Lola is great and not as widely known – some of their prints are really cool and you generally won’t find everyone in them. And John Lewis is always good for well pretty much everything.
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why? SD: Ooh I just got a very cool jumpsuit from Lowie with a tropical print on it and I’m going to live in it over the summer. I love a jumpsuit – less knicker flashing than dresses, you can dress them up or down, plus one item and you’re done. Perfect.
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday. SD: Long, expensive and cakey (we were at the Richmond Fair and I was helping on the school cake stand. Doug took the kids off around the fair all afternoon and I’m pretty sure spunked £40 easily)
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people. SD: I would normally say that I’m a Vicar’s daughter, but as there was a (terrible and inaccurate) article in the Daily Mail last week that included this fact, it’s probably not a surprise! I have a History degree?
CB: What’s the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? SD: I think it’s the thoughtful things that come when you really need them but don’t even know you need them? I was feeling pretty knackered a couple of weeks ago and a friend stopped in on her way home from work to drop off a cottage pie and a bunch of flowers. I burst in to tears and it was just lovely to know someone was thinking of me.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year. SD: I’m currently reading ‘Big Little Lies’ after watching the TV show and loving it. The characters are just brilliant.
CB: What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view? SD: I’m actually working on my laptop in the car on my way to West Sussex to my brother’s pub! We’re going through a very idyllic village with a cute primary school and lots of pubs and discussing how one day we will live in the country. Not ready yet though…
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why? SD: Oooh, always family & friends obviously, but in a couple of weeks I’m going to Menorca with a couple of girl friends and I am so looking forward to lying in the sun, reading and doing very little else. It’s come at just the right time.
Don’t Buy Her Flowerswas founded with a simple aim: to provide thoughtful gift packages for new mums, because they deserve something lovely just for them.
From launch we received requests to send our gifts for other reasons as well as after a baby arrived – birthdays, get well, bereavement and to say ‘it’s going to be ok’. We’ve had many reports of recipients crying when they open their package, overwhelmed that someone has thought of them.
So what’s wrong with flowers?
Although they are always lovely to receive, we wanted to create something that was more thoughtful and useful for mums and women at those times when they need it most. Something that encourages her to take ten minutes to herself. For new mums, we know having babies is amazing but it’s also a rollercoaster and can be hard. Knowing someone is thinking of you can be a huge boost and it turns out that our customers wanted to express that same sentiment to friends and family for all kinds of reasons.
Flowers say “I’m thinking of you”. A gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers says ‘I’m thinking of you, this package is all about you and I hope it makes you feel good’.
‘When I had my first baby, I received eight bunches of flowers. We didn’t have a lot of space and we certainly didn’t own multiple vases. I had to give them away or bin the least fresh to make way for the most recent. I also felt completely overwhelmed with everything – the baby, the visitors, the bodily functions – and trying to arrange flowers and then dispose of them was all a bit much, however pathetic that sounds. I found that other parents felt the same and Don’t Buy Her Flowers was born.’ Steph Douglas, creator of dontbuyherflowers.com
Meet Erna Leon, founder of MERCER7, is an Artist, Fashion Designer, Stylist, Shoot Art Director and super Mama to boot! MERCER7 makes life easier for the Modern Woman; Erna’s keen (fashionable) eye and selection process removes all the barriers that online shopping often presents. Essentially, doing the research and quality control for you; taking the hassle out of online shopping! Because we’re all tight on time these days!
Erna is not only mega inspiring, she’s a joy to speak to in real life too. Her accent is one of my favourites, she has one of the best smiles (and wardrobes!) and had such an interesting upbringing! Here, Erna chats about her varied background, upbringing and the inspiration that drove her to create her start-up.
CB: Hello my darling Erna, please introduce yourself, your background and your concept, MERCER7. EL: I am Armenian, born in Georgia and New Yorker turned Londoner. I spent my formative years in New York, so I call New York home as I lived there from the age of 16.I studied fine arts from a very young age and when it was time to choose my future profession, I decided to go into fashion design at FIT in NY (Fashion Institute of Technology) and took my bachelors degree before working for brands like Halston, Betsy Johnson to Calvin Klein Jeans to name a few.
After marrying a Brit in New York seven years ago, we moved to London and the rest as they say is history. We’ve got two kids now, Luca is 4 and Lily nearly 3, so London definitely became my second home.In terms of concept:MERCER7 is a curated womenswear website for effortless style and collaborative fashion platform.
I focus on timeless, versatile and high-quality pieces that represent timelessness rather than fast-fashion trends. I combine a mix of brands which scale from entry level up to one-off investment. Every item I feature is easy-to-wear and simple-to-style taking you from day to night. The collection is curated to work together seamlessly, allowing women to easily build outfits and their own capsule wardrobe with sustainable pieces that transcend the latest season.
This edited approach helps busy women to simplify the art of dressing by creating your “go-to” uniform: a single aesthetic in endless combinations that never compromises on impact or individuality.
The magazine section of the website is a big part of the MERCER7concept. I interview other creatives and feature articles written by our contributors, so it’s all about giving voice to others, rather than being all about me.
CB: You’ve got so many strings to your bow Erna, but where did MERCER7 begin? What inspired you to start up the concept? EL: I come from a fashion design and art background, so first and foremost I wanted to create a collaborative fashion and lifestyle platform where it enabled me to work with others. From art directing photoshoots, working with brands to curating collections around capsule wardrobes and featuring other creatives on my platform.Online shopping can be overwhelming and websites are all too often saturated with too many options. I used to return most things I ordered online due to poor quality, it would look great on screen but the reality when I received my order was that the pieces looked completely different and I was never a fan of returns. So seeing how time consuming online shopping can be, I wanted to create a focused space with a single aesthetic all in one place, to make shopping easier for busy women.
My personal selection process removes all the barriers that online shopping often presents. Essentially, doing the research and quality control for you, and taking the hassle out of online shopping.
CB: Brand names are a really important first impression of what you’re about, so how did you come up with MERCER7? EL: Coming up with a name was fun, but tricky at the same time. My NY friend David advised me to write my favourite words that had meaning to them. MERCER7was one of them, besides being one of my favourite streets in New York, the true meaning of the word is “Dealer of fine fabrics” which resonates massively with MERCER7 and my focus of quality.
The No.7 resonates with our belief in ‘collective consciousness’, collaboration and positivity. MERCER7 supports and collaborates with other creatives and brands through a series of interviews and features, design and styling.
CB: What is your brand ethos? EL: ‘Shop less, choose well’ Dame Vivienne Westwood said it better than I ever could, and it’s this mantra for sustainability that I live by at MERCER7. We don’t need more. We need better. Whilst this drives my mission, it’s the people that are at the nucleus of my brand.
I want to inspire, collaborate and create a lifestyle concept with a purpose: SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH TIMELESSNESS. I believe that our everyday can be lived in a more sustainable way by being more mindful, consuming less by choosing better.
CB: On a day-to-day basis, what or who inspires you? EL: Women inspire me. Sisterhood between women and mothers who are working to achieve their dreams. I meet so many incredible supportive women full of ambition and drive, it is truly empowering to listen to their stories. Connecting and seeing how hard everyone works inspires me daily.
CB: Can you tell us about, or give us a sneak peak, of something new that’s coming up? EL: I’ve got my launch party coming up May 23rd at the gorgeous space, IceTank in Covent Garden, which Push PR are helping me to organise.
I’m extremely excited about the party and the premiering of the fashion film that I’ve directed and styled, featuring gorgeous Zara Martin and Whinnie Williams. I am grateful to everyone who collaborated with me bringing the vision to life. I had an amazing team of creatives which I couldn’t really do without so it’s all thanks to them – Simon Wisbey was the photographer at my shoot, Sian Davis and Tara Darby filmed it all and Tahira Herold was my guru hair and makeup artist.
CB: How do you juggle being a working Mama? EL: I don’t juggle it very well just yet. I am a work at home mum with two days of childcare per week, which isn’t very much when I work 24/7. But I’m hoping I will learn how to balance it better soon and stop working when the whole world is asleep.
CB: Anything you wish you’d known before you startedMERCER7 / best piece of business advice? EL: How hard it is but how rewarding at the same time. I’ve been so blessed with incredible people who have entered my life as soon as I started this journey. I am not naturally business minded as I am more of a creative type. I’ve always been this way so all I can advice on business front is just be honest, be kind, work hard to turn your vision into reality and…be organised. (I’m not when it comes to keeping receipts, etc so trying to be better at that!)
CB:Anything you wish you’d known before you became a Mama / best piece of parenting advice? EL: How selfless you become, overprotective and paranoid at times. Best piece of advice on parenting would be – listen to your kids, be present and don’t have too many rules.
CB: Parenting-essentials, we know there are more than a few! But what is the one thing you can’t leave the house without? What is your most used piece of parenting/child paraphernalia? EL: Snacks, gotta have snacks in your bag at all times! And baby wipes. I also carry a pencil and paper as Lily loves to draw so if she gets bored, I give her something she can scribble on. Luca is a bit older so he gets an iPhone with puzzle apps which he loves doing if we are out and I can’t entertain them on a bus for example.
CB: Along the same vein as above, what is your ultimate Mum-Essential? What is your go-to item that you just can’t live without? EL: It sounds sad, but it’s got to be my iPhone and my camera. With the new business launch, I am on the phone…a lot. Managing my social media, planning my content, taking product photos, street-style, researching and replying to emails. The list is endless but I could never be able to do it without these two essentials.
CB: What gives you ‘Mum-Guilt’? And how do you get round it? EL: I feel guilty all the time especially since launching. I don’t have much childcare so I am trying my best to find balance and make sure I’m not constantly working around my children (which isn’t possible at this time but I’m trying). It is so important to spend quality time with them without any distractions.
CB: Me-time is super important too, what do you like to do to zone-out? EL: Watch Netflix, meet up with my friends, or read interesting articles. It’s a rare treat these days.
CB: Which are your go-to brands/shops? EL: I love brands like Acne, Anine Bing, Iro, Joseph, and more accessible brands like & Other Stories, Cos, Tree People, Weekday, Me+Em, Samsoe, Toteme, to name a few. But my ultimate if money was no object brand would be Saint Laurent.
I only shop pieces I curate now as I am one of the customers I keep in mind – on the go busy mum. So if I buy something I wear and love, it goes straight to my shop.
The Outnet is a great one as well because you can get amazing deals on beautiful designer clothing so that’s where I look a lot too.
CB: What current wardrobe item is your all-time favourite and why? EL: A biker and a blazer. I live in them.
CB: Choose 3 words to describe yesterday EL: Manic. Productive. Fun.
CB: Tell us something about you that might surprise people. EL: I didn’t learn how to ride a bike till I was 30 years old!
CB:Whats the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you? EL: My family has been incredible throughout this whole startup journey. My parents helped me massively to set up. And my mother in law is always there for me when I am desperate for childcare. She is also taking the four of us on holiday to Portugal this summer because she knew we couldn’t manage a holiday this year. I am really grateful!
Besides family, Emma Hart from Push PR has been a Fairy God Mother and a mentor to me. This woman is incredible, genuine and kind hearted. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone so supportive and giving as her. 5 minutes in her company and you feel empowered and inspired. Some people have just got this skill to make you believe that anything is possible and she is definitely one of those people.
CB: Recommend a book, film or album from the past year. EL: I’m a massive music fan, I love old school rock’n’roll albums like The Rolling Stones, Hendrix, for example and indie bands. Also my friend from Alberta Cross is amazing and my LA friends The Peach Kingsare great too. Their new single Treasure Map is a soundtrack to MERCER7fashion film and it’s so good!
CB:What can you see out of your closest window / what is your current view? EL: I am in my bedroom at the moment so I can see my garden and a lot of green. We live in Highgate so we are surrounded by the woods and the Heath.
CB: Other than with your family & friends, where would you most like to be this weekend and why? EL: I would love to be somewhere sunny this weekend! Anywhere, I won’t be too picky, but just sunny and be surrounded by palm trees and have fresh coconut water in my hands.
Thank you so much Erna for taking the time out of your mad-busy schedule ahead of your launch party (incidentally, which is tonight) to chat to me. You’re a wonderful person, so thoughtful, always inspiring – and taking in inspiration in the most curious of places! I’m so lucky to know you and I am MASSIVELY proud of everything you’ve achieved with MERCER7so far. You’re ace of frikkin base pet!
I’m so terribly sad to miss the MERCER7launch tonight (see my Insta @JudyPink🙁 ). But I know you’re gonna smash it and its gonna be super stylish and beautiful; with a room full of incredibly talented folk that all love you heaps! You’ve worked so bloody hard, so let your hair down tonight Mama, you really deserve it!