Whilst at Dot to Dot we were given the “heads up” by Vida Kids PR of a kids clothing brand called Jax & Hedley who have just started out but whose designs and quality were worth seeing…they weren’t wrong! We went to take a look at Jax & Hedley and were blown away at the softness of the cotton sourced and the quality of the designs. Started by Louise Sheldon-Smillie, the brand was born out of her frustration at not being able to find the kind of design-led pieces for her kids she wanted with the comfort they would feel happy in. In this post, Louise has taken the time to let us into the world of Jax & Hedley which we think is a label to watch out for.
1. We love how the name of your brand, Jax & Hedley came about – can you share the story with the readers?
Without completely quoting the ‘about’ section of the J&H website, the brand really is a tale of two grandfathers. Mine named Jack and my husband David’s, named Headley. They were both adventurous rule breakers who dared to do different.
Alongside the fact that I too like to think of myself as an adventurous rule breaker, there was also sentiment to the name. My husband and kids (Reid and Aria) will never get to meet my great grandad Jack, the same as the kids and I will never get to meet David’s grandad, so we thought it was a lovely way of keeping their memory alive.
The brand itself breaks the mould of traditional English childrenswear and instead consists of modern shapes, minimalist design, monochrome staples and bold patterns!
2. You started Jax & Hedley sewing all the pieces yourself – have you always loved sewing?
No, I actually hated sewing at school and used to skip textiles classes and go to the dance studio to bust some moves instead!!
I think part of the problem was that I disliked being told what to create and sew.
After I finished Sixth Form I worked at Levi’s as a Supervisor where I also learnt how to do alterations on customers jeans.
That Christmas my parents bought me a sewing machine and I made myself a Vivienne Westwood style dress which came out surprisingly good. From then on I knew wanted to create my own clothing brand, I just never knew that it would end up being childrens clothing!
3. What are the inspirations behind your designs?
I’m drawn to monochrome and bold patterns and so it was an obvious choice to echo this in the J&H designs.
The inspiration behind the AW16 collection is quite simply, winter landscapes. There are two patterns which run throughout the collection. One being an abstract mountain range and the other being cracked ice. The Oak-buff colour that features in the collection was inspired by the warm colours in a lit fire.
Together they create a mix and match collection with a great balance of warm and cool tones, patterns and block colours.
My son inspires the shapes and quality of the garments. Watching him run around all day long I know how important it is for kids to wear comfortable, soft fabrics that will wear well with time. Therefore the entire collection is made from the softest Italian peached cotton!
It’s so soft infact, that when we recently showcased the collection at the Playtime tradeshow in Paris, a lady told us that she thought it felt like a cloud!!
4. Do you remember where you were / what you were doing when it hit you that Jax & Hedley was going to become a reality?
My maternity pay was coming to an end after I had Reid and I was going to have to go back to work full-time. Instead I got my sewing machines serviced and I bought some fabric and a website with the very last of my savings.
I thought that I would make a few kids garments per month and sell them so that I could help contribute towards the bills. But after I launched the website and opened for business it became very clear that this wouldn’t just be a paid hobby.
Initially I made four pairs of harem leggings, I printed eight tees and made four sweatshirts. After the first two days I had sold everything and had to buy more fabric so that I could make items. I was sat on my bedroom floor cutting patterns at 3am when it suddenly dawned on me that J&H was going to be my full time job!
5. Do you have advice for other mums out there who may be a bit nervous about bringing their business idea to life?
I’m no expert, but whatever it is, just do it! If you don’t give it a try, you’ll always wonder. We only get one life after all. And if you can start a business whilst looking after your kids, then you can literally handle anything the world throws at you!!
6. How do you juggle being a mum with being a business owner?
I drop the juggling balls a lot!
It’s hard work! Like, really really hard work.
The hardest time was when I was pregnant with Aria, had horrendous morning sickness and could barely stand, trying to potty train Reid, with David working two jobs and I had a list of around 40 items that I needed to hand make for customers. But, I like to think that, thats as hard as it will ever be! Now I’ve moved to the manufacture stage and also have a depot to ship my orders, I get a lot of my time back. I no longer have to sew until 3am and my weekends are no longer consumed with packing orders.
But even now, It’s a complete juggling act that I’m yet to master!!
7. Have you started work on 2017? If so…any sneaky clues as to what we might expect?
Yes and I’m super excited about it!!
I always have a million ideas running through my head and it takes me a while to narrow them down, but for Spring-Summer 2017 I have a really clear vision. You can expect light, bright airy designs with a playful undertone. That’s all I’m saying!!
Jax & Hedley’s new collection will be launched later this year. You can find out more about this exciting new kidswear brand here as well as sign up ready to be notified when the Autumn/Winter pieces launch. In the meantime, here is a taste of what to expect, simple yet beautifully designed kidswear you’ll want for yourself…we are hoping the “Authentic” sweatshirt makes an adult-sized appearance…oh, and the Oak-Buff dress as a tunic top!!