“Children are children and we, as a brand, want to dress them as such, not as adults” – Meet Spanish Designer & Founder of Childrenswear Line The Animals Observatory, Laia Aguilar



There is a certain knack to creating childrenswear that parents want to buy and children want to wear, and Spanish designer Laia Aguliar just seems to have it...

Her first hit was cult brand, Bobo Choses which she founded in 2008, and though they have since parted the company, she has followed it up with the even more characterful The Animals Observatory.

“I like that you can still tell that Bobo Choses was my baby,” she says. “At times it might be a little too obvious, but it’s something to be proud of, for sure. However, I have matured with The Animals Observatory.”

A fan of art, architecture and paintings from the 70s, the designer is never without a pad and colouring pencils to sketch her unique prints. She says she wanted to create a brand that children will instinctively fall in love with – and there is an innocence and timelessness to the collections, reminiscent of life when we weren’t all glued to our devices, that is impossible to resist. “I am a mother of two and I realise how passionately children choose their favourite garments,” she says. “We aspire to be part of that passion.”

The enigmatic name and motto “be a good animal” comes from the primal instinctiveness and honesty that she observes in little ones. “Children see adults without prejudices and with plenty of curiosity,” she explains. “They want to learn the rules of the world by observing us.”

We couldn’t wait to glimpse Laia’s quiet, rural life in the small town of just 200 people in the Emporda countryside on the border of France and Spain – where she lives with her husband, Felipe Cano (who is also the brand’s artistic director) and their two children Pablo and Adriana. We wanted to know why she decided to leave Bobo Choses, what makes great childrenswear and what she most loves about being a mum.


Tell us about your career journey?

I created Bobo Choses when I was pregnant with my first child, Pablo. I couldn’t find clothes that I liked so I decided to design them myself. My former associate managed the company and I was the designer and creative director. And it stayed that way for eight wonderful years. In the end I decided to leave the brand, but I can’t explain why. I had to sign an agreement that means I can’t say. Luckily, Jan Andreu appeared; he’s my associate at The Animals Observatory. He is a brilliant, honest man, full of curiosity and enthusiasm. The best associate you could wish for.

Where do you think many brands go wrong when it comes to childrenswear?

It’s hard to say, but maybe it’s a mistake to see children as small adults. No. Children are children and we, as a brand, want to dress them as such, not as adults. It’s a fine line sometimes, but essential for personal style.

What do you love about having your own business?

Freedom, but this freedom also involves a lot of responsibility. Keeping your standards high for each collection and campaign is definitely a challenge. Then there is time management. Sometimes it’s hard to achieve a work-life balance due to the volume of work but running your own business definitely makes up for this. Especially when you surround yourself with a team as marvellous as ours.

Describe a typical working day?

I wake up every day at 7 am. I do some yoga in the garden, drink some tea and go for a walk in the woods. It’s one of the advantages of living in the countryside. Then, I eat breakfast with my children and drop them off at the school bus stop. I usually work until 5 or 6 pm, at home or in the office with my team. Then, I’m with my family until bedtime.

What advice do you have for anyone juggling a career and children?

That’s the big question. The only advice I can give is to try to manage your time well between both worlds. Both are wonderful, but you have to be careful not to neglect either one of them. It’s definitely a challenge.

How do you come up with some of your amazing prints?

Thank you! The truth is that I don’t know. Maybe the secret is that I still draw like I did when I was a young: a notebook and a case full of colouring pencils. I’ve been doing it all my life, obsessively. It makes me happy.

Are your children fans of the collections?

My children are very critical fans, which helps me to improve every day. And whenever I see them dressed in my designs I feel very fortunate for how lucky I have been, for enjoying my time with them and for having a job that I love – it’s a privilege.

Describe those early days with a newborn...

Oh, I love this question! You feel bewildered, but above all you feel how love grows from within you in a way that you have never experienced before and it’s so powerful. When you look at your newborn child you become conscious of the mystery of life, which is also the mystery of love, something profound but simple at the same time, something instinctive, almost animalistic.

What has been your most memorable moment of motherhood to date?

It’s impossible to choose just one. There are memorable moments every day, really. I particularly love to see my children laughing, seeing them burst out laughing. When this happens, time stands still. And the truth is that it happens quite a lot in our house because my husband is very funny, a bit of a clown. He makes us laugh a lot.

What’s one piece of advice you would pass on to all mothers?

Good things come to those who wait.

What has motherhood taught you about yourself?

Our ability to love is endless.

What was your childhood like?

I grew up in Reus, in Catalonia – a small, pleasant town. I didn’t plan on becoming a designer. I just liked to draw, from shoes to home interiors – a passion that still lives within me.

Tell us about where you live?

I live in the countryside, in a small village with 200 inhabitants, close to the border between Spain and France. It’s true paradise. Peace, nature and freedom. There are hardly any cars and there are many children in the village. We built our home not long ago. I also designed it. It was both a dream and a challenge for me.

How would you describe your interiors style?

A blend of Alvar Aalto, Le Corbusier and Joan Miró – three artists I greatly admire. You can learn a lot from observing their art.

Your husband is the artistic director for The Animals Observatory – how did you meet?

He is a talented man full of curiosity. He knows a bit about everything! Literature, music, cinema… Working together is a gift. We met when we were 17 years old. Now we are 42. We’ve been together for our entire lives!

What is the secret to a happy marriage?

Talk, talk and talk.

What do you enjoy doing as a family?

Something really simple: sitting down to eat a meal and talking about how our day has been.

What are your favourite fashion brands for you?


And beauty brands for faking sleep?


What are your favourite things to do with the children on the weekend in Barcelona?

The truth is that I don’t like big cities. I prefer the countryside. We don’t go to Barcelona very often, but when we do, we normally visit CosmoCaixa, a fantastic science museum where you can spend days learning about things. My family really enjoys going there.

What three words would do you hope your children would use to describe you?

Affectionate, determined, passionate…

Finish this sentence. “We all need to be more honest about …”

Ourselves.

What is next for the brand?

It’s a secret that will be revealed soon. I will say that it has to do with shoes.

What’s your little list of loves?

Seeing my children laugh.
Seeing a good film together as a family.
Feeling loved and desired by my husband.
Walking in the woods.
Drawing in a notebook.
Discovering a new song.
Discovering a new artist.
Taking care of my garden, my little paradise.
Eating dinner with friends.
Swimming in the sea at sunset.
A nice cold beer.

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