Jem + Bea
JEM + BEA is a new brand aiming to redefine the changing bag. I attended the press launch a few weeks ago and was very impressed with the contemporary, luxury bags which combine style and functionality. The brains behind it are Dominque and ex-Mulberry designer Rebecca- the brand is named after their children. I caught up with Rebecca to find out more….
LSF: How did the idea for your changing bag company come about?
Jem + Bea: Our own changing bag frustrations spurred us to make a range of bags that we and we hoped other mums would actually want to carry. As handbag lovers, we couldn’t bear the idea of abandoning our lovely leather or designer bags for floral numbers, or bags with cupcakes on! We could see there was a gap in the market for luxury changing bags that could double as your handbag and, most importantly, didn’t scream ‘nappy bag’!
LSF: Why did you feel there was a need for another brand of changing bag and what makes you unique in the market?
Jem + Bea :I remember trying to look for a cool, stylish changing bag that I’d actually be happy carrying – and there was nothing I liked. In fact, I found that the choice was pretty depressing. For someone that designs bags for a living, understandably, my standards were high! I ended up throwing everything into one of my designer bags that was roomy enough to hold all the baby paraphernalia – but it was a total disaster! There was no organisation in the bag and I’d end up constantly rummaging for things at the bottom of the bag!
There are a lot of changing bag brands out there, and a few offer leather bags, but Dom and I felt that there was still a need for a range of luxurious baby bags that felt truly modern and fashion-forward in design. We have this thing we always say to each other when we design a bag – ‘could you see it sitting with the selection of bags on Net-a-Porter?’ If the answer is yes, then we know we’re on to a winner!
LSF: Which is your favourite bag from the collection?
Jem + Bea :Hmm tricky I love them all for different reasons!! But I guess in terms of what suits me most, I would say the Beatrice in Orange. I love a tote and the more streamlined interior suits me too, plus I can fit my Macbook in there on work days. It’s such a zingy colour, it really brightens up a neutral outfit and gives a great colour pop against a black or grey buggy.
LSF: How do you juggle running a business with motherhood
Jem + Bea :I’m still learning. In true honesty the balance probably isn’t great at the moment! Running a small business is all consuming but really rewarding. Smart phones make it very easy to be ‘available’ at all times and answering various queries but of course this has it’s downside as I have to be really disciplined about switching off at the end of the day, or at least having a bit of time out so I don’t feel totally frazzled. Even if that’s just stopping for a cup of tea and looking out the window for 5 minutes!
LSF: How would you describe your style?
Jem + Bea :Comfortably stylish. I’m pretty low maintenance; with clothing I think I probably shop like a man! I normally gravitate towards a few really key classic pieces and buy them over and over – a good pair of jeans, smart sweaters. Ultimately, for me it’s the bags and shoes make an outfit (probably goes without saying being an accessories designer!)
LSF: What are your favourite fashion labels?
Jem + Bea :I love anything Raf Simon’s does, be that clothes or accessories. I also love Celine, and The Row – I have a real soft spot for that 90s minimalist feel and focus on fabrics. Also, I love what Gucci are doing right now, it’s not my usual style, but it’s so creative, they’re really having a moment.
LSF: Which three beauty products couldn’t you live without?
Jem + Bea :I’m not that loyal to be honest!! I love trying new things, but I’m currently loving the Eve Lom Kiss Mix as it makes lips so soft. I’m probably a bit late to the party but I’ve just discovered Lancome Flash bronzer, which is so good for getting a quick bit of colour without make-up. This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil is also absolutely gorgeous. It’s so nice to use on smooth legs and smells divine as it is full of essential oils.
LSF:And when it comes to the kids- what are your go-to labels? What is their style like?
Jem + Bea :I like to mix high street with designer. I love H&M for kids because they do some really quirky stuff that you don’t normally see on the high street. Also, COS does some beautiful simple pieces in lovely fabrics. Then Stella McCartney kids is gorgeous, and I also love Mini Rodini; their prints are so iconic and unique.
LSF:Who is your ultimate style icon?
Jem + Bea :Back to the 70s, it would be Jane Birkin. Her unique mix of tomboy and laid-back luxury has always fascinated and inspired me.
LSF:What are your tips for launching a business?
Jem + Bea : Listen to your instincts, surround yourself and take help and advice from people you trust and want you to achieve. Keep a close eye on your cash flow and don’t underestimate the power of social media.
LSF:How would you like to see the brand evolve?
Jem + Bea: We’ve just unveiled our new Spring Summer 2016 Jem + Bea collection to the buyers and press. The reaction has been fantastic; we can’t wait to launch the new range online next month. Also next month, we launch in John Lewis, which we are so excited about! I’ve always thought of them as the authority in nursery gear, so we’re over the moon to be stocked by them. For AW16, we’re looking forward to an exciting collaboration, but that is top secret for now!!