I am a big fan of European style, the French, Italian’s and Spanish all seem to ooze style and their kids are a true reflection of this. A while ago I discovered an online store called Alioli Kids which stocked Spanish kids brands and more recently has started to make their own small collection. In fact my daughter had (now outgrown!) a gorgeous yellow rainmac from the brand which she always received comments on.
I caught up with Catherine, the lady behind the brand and store to find out more…..
LSF: Tell me how the idea for AliOli Kids came about?
Catherine: I have always loved fabrics and design. Having children was the catalyst for AliOli Kids! When I was pregnant with my first child, I was working all hours for a publishing house. I knew that if I continued to work for someone else, the time I could spend with my family would always be dictated by someone else´s agendas. On a long train journey home from a meeting, I decided then and there to start the business and be my own boss.
LSF: Why Spanish clothes? What is it about their particular style that you like?
Catherine: My husband is Spanish and we lived in Madrid for a decade. Spanish children are always very well turned out and this is something that stays with them into adulthood – spaniards take great pride in their appearance. Spanish childrenswear has a well-earned reputation for good quality and style. AliOli Kids takes the very classic spanish style and makes it a little more relaxed and comfortable for us Northern Europeans!
LSF: You’ve gone from just stocking Spanish brands to now having your own line as well. How do you find the design process?
Catherine: I have lots of fun! I could visit fabric fairs all day long!! I am very lucky to work with some wonderful ladies who produce our own brand collection in a small workshop just outside of Madrid. I take samples of the fabrics to them with the design. They tell me whether the fabrics are suitable and we discuss accessories such as buttons, lining, etc. My children act as guinea pigs. Everything has to get the thumbs up from them!
LSF: How do you juggle running a business with motherhood?
Catherine: I don´t think there is a recipie for success in juggling motherhood and running a business. Children need you more as they grow up so you constantly have to adapt to suite their needs. When I became a mother, I knew that my children would always take priority over everything else. I may be working more hours now than when I worked for someone else, but I get to choose my working hours. That means that more often than not I pick them up from school, hear about their day, and can work from home if one of them is ill. I also have great admiration for mothers who stay at home.
LSF: How would you describe your style?
Catherine: I´m not sure I have time to have a style anymore!! If I don´t have any meetings, I wear running pants and a sports top under a nice coat with sheepskin boots to the office – it`s really a time saving exercise so that I don´t have to change when I do sport in the afternoon! If I have a meeting, I try to wear heels and a jacket.
LSF: When it comes to your everyday style which brands to you favour?
Catherine: I tend to grab the first thing I find so rely on Massimo Dutti, Comptoir des Cotonniers and Maje to make me look half decent when I fly out of the house. I also love discovering new brands on Instagram.
LSF: And when it comes to the kids- what are your go-to labels? Tell me about their style…
Catherine: They are far more stylish than me! Fina Ejerique, La Coqueta, Pili Carrera, Amaia Kids, Nicholi , The Little White Company and Papouelli for shoes. Trotters for basics.
LSF: What are your tips for launching a business?
Catherine: At the beginning have another income stream and don´t overstretch yourself financially. There are a million ways to waste money when you have a business. Make a timing and financial plan and stick to it.
LSF: How would you like to see the brand evolve?
Catherine: When you start a business, you never know which way it will lead you. We have very strong outer wear sales which we would never have predicted at the beginning and we will be building on that this year with new designs and products. I`d like to see the brand evolve organically, maintaining a small team and growing by listening to the needs of our loyal customers.