Heavenly children’s clothing brand, Bumble & Ava, are so much more than cute prints and adorable silhouettes...
With an ethically-minded business model, founders and mother and daughter duo Alexandra Pike and Natasha Dickinson design their ranges in England but manufacture them in Kenya under the World Fair Trade Organisation, meaning their clothing tick all the right boxes when it comes to environmental, economic and social responsibilities. We loved catching up with co-founder Natasha and hearing how she juggles three children with running her own business, working with her mother and why an uninterrupted cup of tea in bed is necessary for a bit of self-love. Go to www.bumbleandava.com
Can you tell us a bit about how Bumble & Ava came about? Have you always worked in fashion/children’s design?
I worked in Interior design in London for 10 years and always had a passion for prints, textures and the aesthetic. When my daughter Ava was born, my mother Alexandra known as ‘Bumble’, a very talented seamstress, made clothes for Ava. People admired them and we decided to start a business together.
You work alongside your mother, Alexandra - how is that dynamic day-to-day?
Despite the 4200-mile distance (London to Nairobi) between us, we work so well together! We communicate throughout the day and some of the night (!), being in different time zones. We have our distinct roles but do all the designs together. Thank goodness for FaceTime!
The Bumble & Ava aesthetic has a distinct nostalgic feel - have you always been inspired by more traditional clothing silhouettes and prints for children?
This feeling comes from the original patterns created by Alexandra for Ava. We love the romantic style of dressing and detailing is very important to our brand. Our prints echo a slightly vintage feel, but with a contemporary twist.
You’re a mother of three - how do you juggle the demands of motherhood with business?
Like I am sure all working mothers, I have lists and more lists! My youngest daughter is only eight weeks so I make sure I prioritise her and enjoy the blissful newborn stage as it goes so quickly. I officially start my working day at about 7 pm when everyone is asleep and try and find the right balance. It’s not always easy but I love my girls and my work so I try to juggle both.
Do your own children inspire your design choices? How do you blend function (mess, comfort, tantrums-proof clothes!) with form when it comes new collections?
Comfort is so important for all children’s clothes. My four-year-old will tell me straight away if she wants to wear something or not! The children definitely inspire us. Our fabrics are all 100% cotton; so easily washable as the mess is part of life!
Your garments are made in Kenya under ethical, sustainable and fair trade conditions. What does ethical production mean to you and how do you keep on top of this process with your manufacturing?
We feel very privileged to be part of a WFTO manufacturing process. Ethical manufacture is the core of our business model and our own philosophy. Alexandra is based near the manufacturers in Nairobi and makes regular visits to see all the staff.
What advice would you give to any other mums wanting to start their own business?
Be brave and ambitious. It is challenging to be a full-time parent and run your own business. If you don’t believe you can achieve great things then you could lose the drive to continue.
What’s your definition of self care and how do you make time for it?
I try to be kind to myself. I want to be everything to everyone and run Bumble & Ava and it is sometimes exhausting. I try not to be too hard on myself and really enjoy what has become known in our house at ‘Tasha Time’. It can be as simple as an undisturbed cup of tea in bed!
Describe an ideal day with the kids?
In our garden at home on a warm summer’s day. Despite designing children’s clothes, my children are happiest not wearing anything at all and running around the garden! It ironic really!
Extremely humbling. It is only since becoming a mother that I can recognise the strength of my own mother’s love and that she would sacrifice everything for me, as I would for my children.