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“I think women deserve to feel they are being thought of as their life drastically changes” – Francis & Henry Founder Aleksandra Żebrowska Launched The Dream Brand for New Mothers



The other day we read a quote on Instagram: “Everyone wants to hold the baby, but who holds the mother”. It’s a sentiment that inspired Aleksandra Żebrowska to launch a boutique label with a focus on luxurious sets of essentials for maternity, nursing and the hospital bag…

“The inspiration to start my own company came from a simple, personal need. Throughout both my pregnancies, there was always a lot of attention given to the unborn child, making sure their nursery is ready, their tiny clothes are ironed and folded and that we’re not missing any breast pumps or bottles. This was a beautiful part of preparing for motherhood of course, but I realized later on that I hadn’t exactly given myself enough to prepare for this huge change. Becoming a mom is overwhelming – it’s stressful, emotional, beautiful and tough and I think women deserve to feel they are being thought of as their life drastically changes,” says the Polish founder of Francis & Henry.

Her nursing dress, made of bamboo rayon, is a favourite of mothers around the world (our editor-in-chief Amy Malpass Hahn included). “Going to birth in my husband’s old T-shirt and then caring for my newborn in perpetually unbuttoned shirts, didn’t necessarily ruin the experience for me, but I can honestly say feeling comfortable, feminine and just plainly myself would have helped me on this insane ride. And that’s what Francis & Henry is essentially all about.”

We caught up with the inspiring entrepreneur to find out more about her brand, motherhood and the one item that never made it out of her hospital bag…

Go to www.francisandhenry.com

 


Tell us about the inception of Francis & Henry. Where did the inspiration come from?

The inspiration to start my own company came from a simple, personal need. Throughout both my pregnancies, there was always a lot of attention given to the unborn child, making sure their nursery is ready, their tiny clothes are ironed and folded and that we’re not missing any breast pumps or bottles.

This was a beautiful part of preparing for motherhood of course, but I realized later on that I hadn’t exactly given myself enough to prepare for this huge change. Becoming a mom is overwhelming – it’s stressful, emotional, beautiful and tough and I think women deserve to feel they are being thought of as their life drastically changes.

Going to birth in my husband’s old T-shirt and then caring for my newborn in perpetually unbuttoned shirts, didn’t necessarily ruin the experience for me, but I can honestly say feeling comfortable, feminine and just plainly myself would have helped me on this insane ride. And that’s what Francis & Henry is essentially all about.


Your nursing dress has been one of the most worn items in my wardrobe; through pregnancy, breastfeeding and long beyond. Can you tell us about the fabric you use, and how you went about sourcing such luxe, durable materials?

I have to admit the biggest challenge when choosing the fabric was finding the perfect balance between functionality and a feminine design. We knew that the material had to be ultra-soft and stretchy to enable breastfeeding and we also knew we didn’t want there to be any buttons or clasps – I personally hated any pinned in elements on my previous pregnancy clothes.

The perfect solution was a pull-down neckline which I couldn’t find anywhere despite its absolute simplicity! It turned out that making this design and having it stretchy enough to nurse comfortably but at the same time making sure it’s super delicate, is an enormous challenge and it took us many trips to different sewing shops in Poland for an ambitious tailor to finally agree to help us.

Most of the fabric we use is bamboo rayon, some of it made in Poland and some imported. Since the beginning of F&H, it has been greatly appreciated for its softness, stretchiness and durability – all extremely crucial traits for a piece of clothing moms wear around the clock for at least the first couple of weeks after giving birth!


Your bundles are the perfect gifts for expecting or new mothers. What do you think some of the best gifts are to provide to a friend who’s expecting a baby?

It’s great that people think of the baby when buying gifts, but as cheesy as this may sound, there are two people being born on delivery day – a baby and a mother. If you’re attending a baby shower or planning to visit a new mom, make sure to think of her first! A massage gift voucher, a yearly Netflix subscription or clothes she will love wearing after pregnancy – these are some of the things I think moms would prefer getting instead of a diaper cake. Hell, bring actual cake! Leave the diaper supply duty for the future dad.


What are your top essentials for a hospital bag?

A nursing dress or two (or three!), a fair supply of swaddle blankets and a nursing bra – if you have those, you’ll be fine. I remember bringing ridiculous amounts of baby clothes, just in case I gave birth to a picky fashionista but instead ended up having to send my husband home for more of my things.


What never made it out of your hospital bag?

Apart from my baby’s whole new wardrobe, I remember laughing at a pair of pre-pregnancy jeans I thought I would wear when leaving the hospital… Those actually ended up not making it out of the closet for months.


As well as your beautiful products, how do you suggest women pamper themselves during the pregnancy and postpartum periods?

As much as I love that we’re programmed to start nesting before the baby’s arrival and remember it as a beautiful step, I would recommend doing less baby-related things during pregnancy. Instead of reading that fourth article on baby colic, go see a movie with your spouse, have lunch with your girlfriends, get a manicure or read a book. You might not have time for that later!

After the baby arrives, I would say pick a great (preferably non-emotional) show to watch during baby feeding times, get your favourite takeout whenever you feel like it, embrace the mess around you with a guilt-free attitude, kindly ask distant relatives not to visit the baby right after birth (not sure what that’s about really) and if you need help with anything – ask grandma! She will love it!


What’s next for Francis & Henry?

We are currently working on launching our new cotton line which will also include pieces suitable for pregnant and nursing women. In addition to that, we plan on making more baby essentials (ones we believe will make moms’ lives easier) such as simple swaddles and easy-to-use bedding sets with our balloon drawing design, which was so warmly received in the past.

Our primary goal was always supplying new and expecting mothers with things they actually need and this helped us make the decision to partner up with two international brands whose missions are very close to our hearts.

Francis & Henry now sells the Australian Bimby and Roy bralettes, perfect for both pregnancy and nursing, as well as Snuggle Me Organic loungers from the US, designed to hug your baby. We are proud to be one of the first companies in Europe and the first in Poland to introduce their wonderful products. 


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