The Curious Mummy Meets Michelle of Little Amigos. Little Amigos is a children’s wear brand, inspired by classic Spanish styling. Each piece in the collection is authentic, of high quality and timeless. Today Michelle share with us her business journey, how she finds juggling Motherhood & running a fashion brand and her style predictions for Autumn/Winter 2018.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m Michelle a mum of two girls; Darcey (2) and Bethany (6). Before I became a Mum, I spent 7 years studying an Open University Business and Economics degree and I worked in the city as a Performance Analyst for an Investment Management company. With a hugely successful career under my belt, I always told myself I would return to work after 6 months maternity leave. However when Bethany came along I fell in love with her immediately and I knew returning to work full time was going to be heartbreaking. When my year’s maternity leave came to an end I just knew going back to work full time just didn’t feel right for me. I was aware deep down it probably wasn’t the best move for my career that I had spent so long studying for. After many discussions with my husband and manager, I eventually decided to put my career on hold and become a stay at home mum.
Tell us about Little Amigos and what gave you the idea to start?
My husband & I loved buying Bethany beautiful clothes, we spent absolute fortunes dressing her up in cute little outfits. We would always bring back something a bit more unique for Bethany to wear every time we went to Spain. Looking back, I think we probably spent more money on clothes for her than we did for ourselves! That’s where our love for particularly Spanish kids clothes started. However, living in the UK, we found more challenging to source good quality Spanish clothes, so we began looking into children’s wear supplier and that was where the idea started.
The Little Amigos brand is all about finding something a little bit different from the usual high street brands that you see every child wearing. We source outfit and accessories for a special occasion as well as those everyday basics. Our collections are of premium quality and classical in style, so a Little Amigos outfit will stand the test of time, as well as stand out from the crowd. We loved the idea that those special outfits could also be passed on to the next sibling or family, and that’s exactly what we did when Darcey came along.
Describe your typical day?
I try and get up before my little monkeys wake and get showered and dressed so I’m done and ready to roll for the day. I always have to be super organized with regards to getting the children ready for school/pre school. I have their little outfits all hung up the night before ready for the next day so they can have breakfast and be out the door pretty quickly. We walk to school together then I either pop to the shops, head home to do housework or complete paperwork/pack orders ready for posting (depending on what day it is). Some days I may even be able to sneak in a quick coffee with a friend. I pick Darcey up from pre-school at noon and then we head home for lunch. After lunch I try and have a little bit of time doing some kind of activity with Darcey before we head out to pick Bethany up from school.
Once we are back from school it’s Bethany’s homework time and then they both play for a bit before dinner, bath and reading time. Off to bed the kids go at 7pm, then I’ll prepare dinner for my husband (if he hasn’t already knocked something up), then its time to complete any other work that needs doing. Usually by 8pm we have had dinner and can enjoy a bit of relaxing time, occasionally with a glass (or two) of wine, without hearing ‘mum!’ ‘dad!’ every 5 minutes.
What is the best part of your job?
We absolutely love viewing the collections and buying the clothes for each season. Our stockist has so many beautiful items and the selection process takes a lot of time. We like to get a good balance between what we like and what we think other people might like too. We are heading off to select the Spring/Summer 2019 collection in July which we are very excited about. It is obviously quite difficult to try and forecast the trends for the next year, but that’s part of what makes it exciting. We love hearing from our customers too, and seeing their little ones photo’s dressed in our clothes. It’s always nice to get lovely feedback!
What inspires your Little Amigos Collections?
We look for things that are a little bit different and listen to what other parents want to see. We also have to keep an eye on the trends for kid’s fashion for each upcoming season. There are fashion shows to visit, where we can explore new exciting brands, and we always keep a look out for new brands to add to the Little Amigos collection. For us, its more about the quality rather than simply adding more quantity.
What are your style predictions for Autumn/Winter 2018?
We are seeing a bit of a move away from the stereotypical blue for boys and pink for girls. Grey is likely to be a really popular colour choice for autumn/winter along with burgundy. We also expect check and tartan prints to be very popular. Autumn/Winter seems to last a bit longer here in the UK, so it’s important to provide customers with high quality items, which can be worn over and over again.
What would you say the most important thing is in running a business? What has been the greatest lesson you have learnt?
Listen to customers feedback its fundamentally the most important thing for us, and keeping on top of the trends. If your not providing what the customers want, ultimately you don’t have a business. You have to be prepared to evolve with the times too, particularly with social media as it’s one of the best ways of keeping your business current and marketing it successfully. As a start-up, the hardest thing for us was building the relationships with the suppliers, grabbing their attention and ensuring that we were absolutely professional in our approach. Then it goes without saying, but the legal and documentation side of starting a business is extremely difficult to get right, but with the support we finally got there.
As the ultimate Mummy Juggler, how do you find a balance between running a successful business, and raising a family?
I cant pretend to be super mum, I’m far from it and sometimes its hard getting the balance just right. Being organized for me is the key. I’m always planning what’s needed for the next day, down to lunches, clothes, after school clubs and school paperwork, because I just know in the morning, despite our best efforts to be organized, we are still usually rushing out the door and that’s when things get forgotten. I try and get most of business side of things done whilst the kids are at school or in the evenings. Obviously there are times when this isn’t always possible. In fact, as I’m typing this I have one little monkey hanging on me demanding attention, and that was after a fight broke out over a balloon. Luckily most of the time the girls are quite good at occupying themselves, but if not we love a craft activity in our house. Give them some glue and some sticking stuff and they will sit for ages making all sorts of fun things for me to put on my wall. The house will look like a tornado has hit by the time they have finished of course, but they are quiet nonetheless! We are also very lucky to have supporting families that can help out with the children if really needed.
After work, how do you find time to relax?
In the summer we love just sitting in the garden eating dinner and talking about our day (again, with a glass or two of wine at the weekend). In the winter it’s usually catching up on box sets, watching films or flicking through magazines/social media. I like reading too so love doing that when I can. Our favorite thing to do is go out for dinner, not that we get as much time these days but we try and do this every now and then.
What are your top five tips for starting a successful business?
We are still pretty new to the industry so we are on a steep learning curve. However some ideas so far are as follows.
1) Do your research and really know your market. Its all very well making decisions about your business, but you need to know what others are doing and why.
2) Have an open mind. Be prepared to adjust aspects of your business and move with the times.
3) Have a good support network. There will be times when you just cant juggle everything and you need a little extra help
4) Maintain a continuous presence on social media. Keep an eye on what’s trending and regularly post about your business.
5) Take note of important dates in the calendar. Big events like a Royal Wedding, historic dates are always a good time to promote your business.
If you were to host the ultimate dinner party and you could invite anyone in the world, who would be on your guest list?
Kylie Minogue, because she was my absolute idol when I was growing up and I was a huge Neighbours fan, I also think my Husband wouldn’t mind. George Clooney, well just because he’s George Clooney and I think he would probably be an interesting guy. Santa Montefiore because I just love her books and I would love to listen to her talk about the places she has travelled. Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Peter Kay because I think they would provide the humour. David Attenborough, he would have so much to talk about, and his voice is mesmorising. Oh and my husband, he is good at talking to anybody.
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