Posted on October 20 2016
'I seem to have sequins everywhere- they are definitely (accidentally) at the bottom of every handbag and I even found some in the microwave the other day'
Tell us your start up story? How and when did you begin?
I began making crowns with cotton and linen, along with matching room decor, shortly after my first daughter was born- so 4 years ago now! It was more of a part time hobby and I sold with Notonthehighstreet.com who I found hugely supportive and helpful in getting me off the ground. I was trading under my own name, and also had another baby quite quickly after that- that's when I decided I didn't want to go back to my day job (a teacher), and that the dress up side of the business was what felt most right for me and for my girls. I went to my local Business Centre and they gave me a low interest loan of £1000, I then worked with a designer to come up with our logo, bought a new sewing machine and Fable Heart was born in July 2015.
What does your brand stand for / what is important to you?
Fable Heart stands for quality, British and Irish design. It is longevity over quick fashion fads, it says no to technology and buzzy flashy toys, and yes to imaginative play. As a young mum with two babies, I could not afford a wardrobe full of expensive clothes for me and my girls, but I have always felt that one gift, made carefully to last and with love, is worth a sack full of plastic toys from Argos. That is what we want Fable Heart to be- that one special gift under your tree, that makes everyone say "ohhh!" and the thing you pack away safe in it's box when your children are older. We want our crowns to be brought out year after year for birthdays, to be part of family traditions and something parents are proud to have invested in. Most of all, we want to be a part of all the amazing role plays and games that little ones come up with, and be a tool to take them to that far off kingdom.
How did you come up with your name?
I had been fixated on the word Fable for a while, as it embodies what I want our dress up clothes to be about. However there are a lot of other businesses called Fable and I knew it needed another word on the end to make it stand out and give it that magical feel it needed. Some very good friends of ours, who have supported us from the start and been at many major decision making points, suggested putting the word Heart on the end and it instantly felt right. We then worked with a brilliant Irish designer called Twelve And A Half, based in Dublin, to come up with our logo- and I'd encourage anyone starting out to invest in that because you are going to be looking at it for a very long time!
What do you love most about running your own business?
I love and hugely value being able to drop everything if my girls are ill or if they need me. They are often at work with me, and I value the experience they have already of going to tradeshows and events, and I think it's a great environment for them. They have also suffered, as I do feel like we are always 'at work' though- there are just so many things to do that 9-5 is not an option.
I love being able to be in contact with our customers, and still answer all emails personally. I think one of the biggest frustrations of current big businesses is that they are faceless, and if you have a problem you hit a brick wall. I love and am proud of having a business that is approachable, friendly and helpful and it's important to me that all our customers feel they know us as a business.
Lastly being creative on a daily basis and slowly building a team of people around us who also relish that, is a great feeling and I love going to work every day.
What keeps you motivated?
Absolutely our girls (and growing brood - we are having another baby in March). They inspire me to demand a better, more wholesome play experience for them and other kids. I also have a brilliant network of other businesses that I can go to for support and who have done nothing but help and encourage me. I met most of them on IG, and they are now only a whtsapp message away if I get stuck or want an opinion I trust.
What inspires you?
Again, 100% our girls. We also pull a lot from old books and illustrations, and are quite conscious not to follow current trends that we think will fade in time. We want to have collections that are stylish more than fashionable, and that last.
Tell us about the theme for AW 16?
Rose Gold has been important for us this season, and we picked up on it being in a lot of interior design pieces and identified it as a colour that is likely to last. As part of our antidote for plastic type dress up items, we wanted our styling to reflect an earthier feel with the presence of linens and 100% cottons. Our AW Video was where we wanted to show the extra movement our items have this season, as we've incorporated more fabric and a wider cut for a luxurious feel.
How do you keep the balance in your life?
It honestly often feels hugely unbalanced. There are always emails to catch up on, a supplier to be paid, stock to be refilled- it never ever ends. Bringing the girls to work with us often helps, but there are times where we have to hit the pause button and give them the undivided attention they deserve. Having a partner who is as motivated as me is definitely what keeps us going- he is behind me 110% and I could not do any of it without him.
What do you do with your kids when you're not working?
We go for a walk with our dog every evening, rain or shine. It re-sets us and we love where we live in the countryside. We also always cook and have dinner (and breakfast) as a family at the table. After the girls are asleep my husband and me often start work again until about midnight. If we get to go on holiday, which is rare, we always choose an outdoorsy break like camping- mainly a break from screen time, which dominates our business.
We also make Pizza every Saturday from scratch with the kids, and take a photo of it and us each time. We have had 3 years of uninterrupted pizza filled Saturdays, and I hope we do it forever.
What are the key items you have in your handbag that you cannot live without?
Obviously having a social media based business, my phone! Also Aesop face cream, and perfume in Marrakesh. As I don't really wear make up these things are a must for me and probably the only things I have for myself! Also always in there are nappies, snacks for silencing the kiddies and I seem to have sequins everywhere- they are definitely (accidentally) at the bottom of every handbag and I even found some in the microwave the other day. They are also always stuck to the kid’s uniforms and anyone that works for me. Oops!
Any busy mum / dad survival tips?
Being organised is essential- I normally throw something in the slow cooker in the morning so I know I've something good to give them at home later. If I don't give them a good gulp of fresh air every day, I severely pay for it. It just seems to calm them and give them a good appetite and nights sleep. My biggest piece of advice is to just roll with it. Nobody's kids are ironed and clean and well dressed every day, and so long as their bellies are full and they feel loved it really doesn't matter. Striving for happiness rather than perfection can make a day much more manageable.