Alice Aitken, mum to Edie (20 months) founded Om baby in 2015, inspired by her travels in India (AND managed to continue her pre-baby career). We asked this multi-tasking mama how she handles life, work and motherhood.
Tell us a bit about Om baby and your career
Om baby is born out of India travels (my spiritual home!) and the birth of my baby girl. I have always worked in the fashion industry - before maternity leave I was the print and graphic trends editor at WGSN, and before that I was a print designer.
I travelled to Goa with my big baby bump and bought a pair of tiny harems on the beach. I loved them: the classic yoga harem is the perfect shape for babies and the movements they make. It was also especially brilliant for us as Edie wears cloth nappies, which need a bit more room. I thought that making my own harems with beautiful Indian woodblock prints would marry together all my loves and inspirations; India, Printed textiles and of course my daughter. So that was it! After talking a good talk for a few months, I starting sewing and set up my online store in March last year.
What's your favourite product this season?
It has to be my new item, the Omsie. It's a pull-on harem style one-piece with a pom-pom stripe and a tie back feature. Like all Om Baby products, it's designed with babies' comfort and longevity of wear (for mum's pocket!) in mind, as well as style, of course. Edie looks super cute in hers and I can't wait to make it in some of my new woodblock prints.
What tips would you give to new Mums to help them to make the most of maternity leave?
I think for the first 6 months, feel no pressure to do anything!! Go with the flow, and follow what your babe wants to do. Gradually when things start to become more a routine (if this ever happens) you might find you have some free hours in the day at home while they are napping. This is your time! For me, it was a time to sew and be creative. It did mean that the house was a mess and I didn't do as much yoga as I would have liked but it was enough time to start up my brand.
The break from work definitely gave me some head space and my daughter gave me more motivation to do something for us.
It can be so hard for mums to manage a family life and a career. Is there anything you feel you've sacrificed in choosing your balance?
For sure being a mum is a massive balancing act! I still work 4 days a week on Trends & Insights for Avery Dennison so I am literally spinning plates all week long.
What have I sacrificed? TV, house work and exercise! Its all about priorities isn't it - the only one of these three I feel bad about is the exercise but I do walk a lot and occasionally get some yoga in which I really enjoy. I have to say I have an extremely supportive husband and we are very equal in our parenting and all house work, so that makes things a lot easier.
We know all Mums are amazing, but are there any that you've found particularly inspiring?
We are the hardest working people I know and also the luckiest! In terms of mums I've found inspiring for Om Baby, I have to mention a few... Firstly Laurie from Anorak, an ex WGSNner who has built an awesome and iconic brand. Then Alice from Amy & Ivor, I love what she does, everything is beautiful and so well executed. My home girl Amy of Coco & Wolf has been really encouraging - we both grew up in the same village in Somerset. She makes gorgeous Liberty print kidswear and homewares. Not forgetting Jacqui Ma another WGSN sista who is making the coolest bike bags in town (Goodordering).
Make us feel better about ourselves. What's your secret mum fail?
I'm no super mum, but I really don't focus on the negatives so this is not the way I look at things. We are all doing the best job we can and you're all amazing!!
OK, there is one thing my husband would say it and it's true... I use my phone too much. I'm an Instagram and Facebook addict and having a brand gives me a perfect excuse to be on there too much.
Where do you like to hang out with your family?
I'm quite a home girl so I'm happy at ours entertaining friends and family, but I also love the countryside, so trips up to Epping Forest or back down to Somerset are high on the list.
Some of my best memories of our little family have been at festivals. Shambala is amazing with kids. We have always socialised Edie: having her hasn't changed our lifestyle that much and we still do the same things. We like to travel still too - she's been to Crete, Sweden and Ibiza so far in her 20 months! We go to festivals, see our friends, and we just have a super special guest at all times. We feel super blessed!
What’s next for Om Baby?
Our Summer collection has just launched (see below)! Plus, I've just returned from a trip to India to set up the process for doing my own woodblock prints. Its a slow process as i'm juggling lots of things but I hope to get one design I'm really pleased with made into a block this year, then use it for a special organic cotton range.
I'm passionate about Om Baby being a "good" brand, so I design with longevity in mind. You'll get months, if not years of wear from my garments. Prints are unisex so they can be handed down to the next baby Om too. Going forward I will only be using Natural Dyed materials from fair-trade artisans in India.
"OM" is a spiritual word. It's the eternal sound of the universe, it is everything, and our Om Babies are our universe and our future. It's important to me that we all do our bit to preserve our resources so our children can enjoy the planet as we have.