Tommy & Lottie is now stocked on one of the most amazing kids fashion websites, BAMBINISTA. The site, started by ex-fashion buyer and mum to toddler Bailey, has an amazing collection of modern, trendy and minimal brands from the UK and abroad that focus on sustainability while still being bang on trend. We talk to owner Susan Daker about what lead her to start BAMBINISTA.
T&L: Can you tell us a bit about your pre-mummy days?
Susan (BAMBINISTA): In my previous life (the one before mummyhood that actually feels like a different life), I was a fashion buyer for one of the top luxury conglomerates and living as an expat in Hong Kong. Life was good, I was travelling to fashion shows and buying events around the world, visiting exotic countries for vacation and partying all weekend when I was, if ever, at home. I was always impeccably dressed thanks to my generous staff discount, with a wardrobe of designer clothes, bags and shoes. Every day was a chance for me to express my style. And my style is pretty straight forward. I love black. I love simplicity. I love shoes. I love well-made clothes. I love shoes (did I say that already?!?!). I was never ‘fashion forward’ per se, but liked to be well styled.
Susan from BAMBINISTA in her pre mommy days at Paris Fashion week for the SS15 Loewe show featuring the new creative director Jonathan Anderson.
T&L: How did falling pregnant change your life?
Susan (BAMBINISTA): At first it was a strange adjustment to go to an expat Sunday brunch and not be tucking into the bottomless champagne and sushi. My life priorities suddenly changed. I had a wakeup call when I realized that I only get 10 weeks of mat leave in Hong Kong, 2 of which had to be taken before your due date (heaven forbid you go into labour in the office). I am good enough at maths to know that if your baby is 2 weeks over due date, that means you have 6 weeks before getting back into the office. Some people are hardly out of bed at that stage! Besides that, our time was done in Hong Kong and after 5 years there and the previous 5 years in Dubai, we had decided time had come to ‘settle down’. Cue move to the UK. I am originally from South Africa, but my parents are both British, so it seemed like the logical choice.
T&L: And what happened after you had your little girl?
Susan (BAMBINISTA): When the bub came along, my life had taken a complete 180 degree turn. The stylish clothes were relegated to the back of the cupboard. In fact, it was sweatshirts and yoga pants every day for me. Makeup was for special occasions, and if my hair actually ever got out of a pony tail and blow-dried, it was because the queen was coming for tea. I couldn’t find the time to do hair / makeup if I wanted to get out the door in less than 2 hours. And I wouldn’t have a chance to shower after gym until the hubby came home because I couldn’t get 5 minutes when she didn’t need me. [Note: Apologies to the hubby for the stench you still come home to.]
I missed the feeling of dressing well. It’s not about designer brands, it’s about feeling like you’ve put in an effort, that you look your best, and you feel confident. And my priorities had changed. I knew I was going to be in stinky gym clothes all day, but the baby, she could wear whatever I wanted her to. I loved finding cool outfits for her, but my style was not traditional British style. I’ve never been into flowers, frills and glitter. I feel like my daughter is an extension of my own style, at least until she’s old enough to tell me she wants to go out with Peppa Pig pajamas for lunch. I already foresee some differences of opinion coming down the line.
T&L: And what inspired you to start BAMBINISTA?
Susan (BAMBINISTA): I searched all over for trendy, modern, minimal, monochromatic, etc. etc. clothes for her that I felt were the style I liked, and I found it surprisingly difficult. After a lot of searching I found a few independent brands from the UK, or some bigger brands from the rest of the world that charged £20+ for shipping plus import taxes, and started wishing for a website that did all that hard work for me and had a great collection of amazing fashionable baby and toddler brands in one place.
Pitti Bimbo in Florence, Italy is one of the best shows for finding the best and trendiest children’s clothing brands in the world. Their new ‘Active Lab’ is the epitome of Scandinavian cool and showcased brands Lucky No. 7, Bang Bang Copenhagen and CarlijnQ all available at BAMBINISTA.
Me with Bailey and our lovely supplier Jadwiga, owner of Cribstar at the AW18 INDX trade show. One nice thing about working for myself is that if I want to take Bailey along with me… no problem. She’s a pretty crummy assistant though!
I still go to fashion shows, but the models are quite a bit smaller. Probably weigh about the same though.
Uhhhh… you can’t see the excitement through the sheer exhaustion (i think its close to 3am here), but here is me receiving our first delivery of stock. I really was excited, promise!
T&L: How important is ethics and sustainability to you at BAMBINISTA?
Susan (BAMBINISTA): I care a lot about the ethical side of the apparel industry, having worked in the business for so long. The thought of buying ‘throw away fashion’ that is low priced, good for one season and then you chuck it out just didn’t sit well with me. There is so much exploitation of people and planet in the garment industry that I didn’t want to be a part of that anymore. And knowing that “100% organic cotton” means nothing if you treat the fabric in chemical bleaches and dyes and the workers in the factories are working in unsafe conditions and being paid less than minimum wage. I’m not sure how “conscious” you can really call that and still sleep at night.
One thing I have learnt is that you get what you pay for. Quality isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t need to be expensive either. And if you spend a little more, you get clothes that last. But at the same time, you don’t need to sacrifice style for ethics. You can have them both.
BAMBINISTA aims to do just that… Bring you an amazing collection of brands that stand for ethical approaches to manufacturing, but are incredibly cool, trendy and perfect for your little ones. We’ll never be the cutting edge of fashion forward, that’s not what we stand for. We won’t be out of style next season. We aren’t timelessly classic either. We are defined by a style, an aesthetic, sometimes influenced but never controlled by seasonal trends. Minimalism is not going anywhere anytime soon and gender stereotypes are a thing of the past.