After i had my Wren, a good friend of mine made me aware of something rather special she had discovered on Facebook. A clothing brand, selling liberty print dresses, rompers and trousers for babies and toddlers, and the best bit? It's was called 'Wren'. Calum and i both cooed over the clothing and in our sleep deprived state, both, unknowingly sent messages to Hannah asking for a catalogue. Hannah, replied to us both and sent us her beautiful mail order brochure featuring all the clothing items and prints to choose from, a near impossible task when everything is so darling. Hannah and I both got to chatting over a few emails and decided that seeing as we both have gorgeous daughters sharing the name, we should do some work together, starting with this post...
You can check out Hannah's boutique on Facebook, Wren Baby & Child and her website will be up and running shortly. However, in the mean time check out the interview we did below and get to know Hannah a bit better. And, be sure to head over to Instagram and show her some love, you'll find her at @wren_babyandchild. And please, take 5 minutes to appreciate the cuteness that is my Daughter in her Liberty print Romper made specially for her, by Hannah! (all the heart eyed emojis)
Full name - Hannah Jane Dulcie Bates
Business name - Wren Baby & Child
Type of business - Baby & Toddler Clothing
Q1. Have you always wanted to make and sell children's clothing?
I'd be lying if I said yes. My passion was always lingerie. I used to make and sell lingerie in Liberty fabrics in my spare time. I sold to boutiques and on my website, which attracted an investor. The investment enabled me to open a lingerie boutique in Bath, selling designer lingerie and my own brand of lingerie, Hannah Dulcie.
Q2. What inspired you to start up 'Wren clothing'
During my first pregnancy I closed our shop and moved to Wales to join my husband. With a desire to continue designing and sewing, I began experimenting with patterns for baby clothes. I didn't know the sex of my baby but I made floral dresses and playsuits in Liberty fabrics. I found myself working into the early hours, and getting up at six in the morning to continue. I was enjoying it so much, I couldn't stop. I took a selection of samples to local children's clothing shops and a couple of London based boutiques - all of which placed orders. It was very exciting.
Q3. Where do you get the ideas for your designs?
It varies, some of the designs are inspired by the clothes I love to wear now or wore as a child. Others come out of experimentation with my patterns. Often, an existing pattern will inspire a new pattern. Such as the bow smock top, became a bow dress.
I have always loved traditional shapes such as the smock and details such as pleats, ruching and ruffles. I love clothes that you can throw on all year round and layer up when its cold. I was in a quandary whether to line the clothes as Liberty fabric is very fine. I lined a few pieces as an experiment and felt they lost their simple charm. My daughter wears the collection all year round. Even the playsuits - I layer these over tights and a long sleeved vest, maybe add a cardigan if its chilly.
Q4. Would you ever look to expand 'Wren' ? Perhaps into boys clothes or older age groups?
Definitely. Currently I have two young children at home with me so its hard for me to increase my offering. My son starts full time nursery in September and my daughter, part time, so I will have more time then. Even the admin takes so much time. I don't like to work while my children need my attention so I work when they are asleep. I have a small team of seamstresses to help with the making. I hope to introduce boys clothing officially next spring.
Q5. What's the best thing about making baby girl clothes?
I work predominantly in Liberty tana lawn, which lends itself to girls clothing. I have loved Liberty lawn for as long as I can remember, its so pretty and delicate. Girls clothing has endless opportunity for new shapes and detail. Boys clothing less so but I hope to embrace the simplicity. For boyswear, I'll work in fabrics and prints that lend themselves to simple styles, such as 100% Linen, pinstripes and needlecord. There are also a few Liberty prints that feature cars, boats and airplanes rather than flowers.
Q6. What's the toughest thing about making baby girl clothes and also being a mum of two?
The hardest thing is the guilt. If my day is interrupted with trips to the post office or business calls, I feel dreadfully guilty. I want to give my children as much of my time and energy as I can offer. I believe every day should be a mini adventure. However, sometimes its impossible to keep work entirely separate from my day-to-day routines at home.
Q7. How do you decide on what prints to use?
This I find very difficult because others might not like a print that I am completely crazy about. I find that certain prints are more popular, and those I will keep in the collection. The prints that don't sell so well I will probably drop and add new choices before Christmas. It is also determined by Liberty. Quite often a print will be discontinued. I have just learned that Rosa has been discontinued and this is in my current selection.
Q8. What's the most rewarding thing about your job?
Probably the creativity. I get a huge amount of pleasure out of being creative. Its very satifying seeing my daughter and other children wearing items I have made myself.
Q9. What if your favourite piece in the collection and why?
My favourite piece is the embroidered ruffle playsuit. Its a tricky piece to make and I think I almost shed tears of frustration making the first one. Now the pattern is resolved and I think they look so cute on, especially on little babies. Originally they were only to be available in white linen but I made one in a Liberty print and instantly decided to offer the style in the prints.
Q10. If you weren't creating beautiful baby clothes, what would you be doing?
I would probably be going back to what I always used to do, which was business development. I was a Business Development Manager before I found investment to open a shop.