“I always said that I never wanted my own business, I enjoyed the stable secure monthly salary,” says Amy Hemmings-Batt, the founder of contemporary luxury bedding and lifestyle brand Coco & Wolf, who spent over 10 years working as a fashion buyer (she spent the last few years of her career working with Kate Moss on her clothing collections for TopShop)...
Hemmings-Batt relocated with her husband to the British countryside from London just weeks before her daughter was born, and the plan was always to move back to London when her daughter turned one (years later, they haven’t left).
She started searching for children’s clothes that weren’t pink, primary colours or fussy, and when she couldn’t find anything she loved in her favourite prints and fabric – Liberty’s iconic prints in Tana Lawn cotton – Hemmings-Batt started making the clothes herself. Before she knew it, friends started to ask if she could make things for their children. She was then approached by her first retailer, a small independent shop. “It was at this point that I started to build the website and launch the brand and when it really took off,” she recalls. Years later, her brand is renowned for selling luxury, heirloom pieces for both adults and little ones, all handmade by a dedicated team of seamstresses in the company’s Somerset based design studio. Coco & Wolf now offers the largest selection of Liberty fabric bedding in the world.
Here, we find out more about her career journey and what a typical day looks like.
To shop Coco & Wolf, go to cocoandwolf.com
Tell us about your own childhood…
My childhood was spent in the countryside, I grew up in a small village (that I couldn’t wait to leave). We spent a lot of time outside, den building and crafting. My parents were both teachers, although when my brother and I were little my mum had her own sewing business. My parents have always both been creative people, they encouraged my brother and I to do what we love and follow our passions. When I was growing up, I knew there was a big wide world out there and I wanted to see it and live it. As soon as I had finished school, I was desperate to live in a city and escape the countryside. Little did I know that I would end up doing a full circle and move back to the countryside to offer my children the upbringing I was lucky to have.
What did your career entail prior to children?
Before I had my children, I worked as a fashion Buyer for over 10 years. It was my dream job and my whole life, I absolutely loved it. I traveled the world for inspiration and sourced product for the global fashion market. I spent the last few years working with Kate Moss on her clothing collections. It seems like a different life when I think back to it. The fashion buying work has changed immensely since I left, I feel lucky to have done it when I did, and it gave me such good grounding for having the business now.
Tell us about your experience when pregnant with your daughter, and what you started making...
When I was pregnant with my daughter the baby and children’s clothing market was very small. I was obsessed with Liberty’s iconic prints and knew the Tana Lawn cotton would make beautiful clothing for babies and children. I couldn’t find anything that I liked out there, so I bought a few metres of different prints and started making the clothes and nursery accessories for her.
What prompted you to turn this venture into a business?
I always said that I never wanted my own business, I enjoyed the stable secure monthly salary. We relocated to the countryside weeks before my daughter was born, the plan was always to move back to London when she was one. After she was born, I used to dress her in the clothes I had made for her. I was very lucky that she was a good sleeper, this enabled me to sew when she slept. Friends started to ask if I could make things for their children and then I was approached by a little independent shop that wanted to stock our collection. It was at this point that I started to build the website and launch the brand and when it really took off.
Tell us about Coco & Wolf…
Coco & Wolf is a contemporary and luxury bedding and lifestyle brand using Liberty fabric. We sell luxury, heirloom pieces for you and your little one, all handmade by a dedicated team of seamstresses in our Somerset based design studio. We have evolved over the years to increase our product range and now offer the largest selection of Liberty fabric bedding in the world. We work directly with Liberty Fabrics on developing our own unique colourways of their iconic prints launching four collections a year in line with Liberty Fabrics launching their prints. We work with inspiring stylists and photographers who bring our collections to life. There really is nothing more luxurious to sleep on than Liberty cotton and silk. It is so soft to the touch and breathable, just dreamy. We sell our bedding and clothing all over the world and are stocked in some of the most prestigious retailers. We believe every home has a space for Liberty’s quintessentially British prints. With a key emphasis on style and quality all items are proudly handmade in England and are made using the iconic Liberty fabric which we have become famous for. Coco & Wolf is known worldwide for creating premium, unique and bespoke fashion, interior and lifestyle products, using the luxury Tana Lawn® Liberty fabric. The brand ethos remains the same as in the very beginning, every piece is thoughtfully designed, revolving around clean shapes and delicate detailing that is evident in every single handmade piece.
What do you love about Liberty fabrics?
I love how inspiring the prints are, I love the thought and design process that goes into creating them. I love the stories they tell, steeped in history, and the emotions they evoke when people see them. I love the finish and feel of their fabrics.
What are some of your most adored styles?
Our most adored styles are our bedding sets in Betsy and Capel. Two iconic Liberty prints that are synonymous all over the world and that have been produced in some of the most beautiful colours. Whenever we launch a new product we always launch it in either one of these prints. Our frill edge and silk pillowcases are favourite at the moment.
How do you approach mixing and matching patterns?
There are a few rules I stick too when choosing print combinations. The first is an anchor print, a print that is often a favourite, a starting point. From this, I will then look for a print to compliment it in terms of colour and scale, so if the first print is a medium to large scale I will always mix it with a smaller scale ditsy floral that is the same colour palette or very similar. To add in third and fourth prints I will then look at highlight colour tones and two colour patterns. I will pick out a colour, or a couple of highlight colours that will often look to be a contrast to the first two prints but there will be some element of continuity. If choosing prints for a room, I will always work with the wall colour so this may be where one of the highlight prints comes from and helps to pull the collection together.
What does a typical day like for you?
On a typical day, I have breakfast with the children and often take them to school. I use the journey home from the school run to gather my thoughts for the day ahead. I always try and clear emails first thing in the morning and then only check them again at lunchtime and then right before I finish otherwise, I lose a lot of time to them! At the beginning of the week, I have production meetings with the team to plan for the week ahead and make sure everyone is up to date for what is going on. I spend time designing new products and planning the new collections. We always have at least one season on the go at any one time, we work 6 months ahead in terms of print selection. The afternoons are often spent planing content, updating the website or, meetings with stylists and collaborators. I am VERY easily distracted though and always find myself coming back to the creative side of my job.
How do you manage the juggle in your family?
The juggle is real! I am very lucky to have my mum living close by who helps us enormously with childcare, and she has a very close relationship with the children, which is so special. The plan was to be a mum first and have a business second, this worked initially when the business was tiny and I only had one child! I can remember launching the bedding two days after my son was born. When I think about that now I do not know how I did it. As the business grew, I realised that I needed more day time hours to work as my energy levels in the evening were terrible and not hugely productive. When my son started school in September last year I adapted my working hours to be all during school days, freeing up my evenings and weekends. I always try and make sure I am home to cook tea, so we can sit down as a family and then I can put the children to bed.
How do your surroundings inspire your work?
Living in the countryside we are blessed with far-reaching views of fields, trees, and hills. I often find myself gazing out of the windows whilst thinking things through (always getting distracted). Nature and the outdoors are a constant source of inspiration, the changing effects of the seasons, the new flowers popping up and springing into life. This season one of our main focuses is on outdoor living, creating indoor spaces outside.
We’re operating in a really challenging time for small business. How are you keeping yourself motivated?
My motivation at the moment is my two children. Adapting our family to our ’new normal’, realising why I do what I do, the passion I have for the business and wanting to continue to be able to offer our products to our customers through this turbulent time. Creating a relaxing home environment and providing some light distraction.
What brands or women do you admire?
I really admire independent brands who are doing their own thing and totally owning it, a couple of my favourite who are run by great friends and inspiring lovely ladies are Apolina Kids and Edit 58. Caroline at Apolina creates the most beautiful modern embroidered childrenswear with a sense of craft, all handmade In India. Lisa at Edit 58 has the most inspiring interiors eye and sources divine rugs and homewares from all over the world.
Do you ever feel mother’s guilt?
Yes. Daily. Today I had a day off work to spend it with the children, we had a really lovely day, we made things, we walked, we talked, we read some stories, we hung out and then I had to nip off to work for an hour right before bedtime or and felt guilty for that even though I had spent the whole day with them! I always leave phone and laptop in a totally different room when having downtime with the children so I can focus on them.
How do you wind down or take time for yourself?
Pilates and running. I am so grateful that my Pilates instructor is doing classes virtually at the moment and I can still get outside for run. Both of these activities are huge stress relievers for me and really help me unwind and switch off.
What’s on your list of loves at the moment?
My Liberty silk pillowcase.
Rose Quartz Facial Roller.
Aesop Resurrection Aromatic Hand Balm.
Diptyque’s new Insolite candle.
Super Kingsize fitted sheets in Liberty cotton (now I don’t need to climb into my children’s beds to experience sleeping on the silky soft cotton!).
House Party app.
Happy Place podcast by Fearne Cotton.
Le Labo The Noir 29.
Almond Butter Porridge.
Morning hugs from my children who make everything feel like everything is ok.
Silk nightwear I am trialing ready for launch in July!
Topics of Conversation: A novel by Miranda Popkey