Doers and Dreamers...Alice Aitken
Each week we meet a parent who has set up their own business. This week we meet Alice Aitken, the queen of print.
Hi Alice tell us a bit about yourself and your business
Sure my name is Alice. I'm wife to Stu, mum to Edie and another lil Om due in Dec this year. My business is Om Baby, I make baby clothes using beautiful hand block-printed indian Cotton.
What was the driving force to set up Om Baby?
The driving force was finding an amazing product for my baby daughter and a need for some creativity in early mamma-hood days.
I bought a pair of baby harems in Goa when I was pregnant and when Edie was big enough to wear them I realised they were BY MILES the cutest, most practical and gorgeous item I had for her. There are other harems on the market but no one makes the traditional yoga harem pant with the 4 panels, which gives way more space for movement and nappies, especially if you use cloth nappies as we did.
I have worked in trends for nearly 10 years and spent my days admiring independent brand owners and realised this was my chance to set something up. India is by far the most exciting and beautiful place I have ever been - I love the colours, the textiles and the patterns. Starting Om Baby teamed up my love of India, textiles and print and my daughter.
What’s your workspace like?
Ha well... It's my kitchen table! We are lucky to have a fairly decent sized kitchen / living space so i'm only taking up a small corner of the room!! Its not ideal but it means I can jump on it and do some sewing at any possible opportunity, e.g. when Edie is happily playing on her own...
Tell us about a typical day?
I work 4 days a week as a trends advisor for a large branding company and the other day I have Edie so a typical day is like many other working mums getting Edie to nursery etc. Om Baby starts in the evenings and on weekends. I have an amazing husband who does bed and bath time more often than me so that I can crack on with orders!
How did you launch?
I made my Facebook and Instagram account before I had actually made any harems! I showed my range plan, got feedback from mammas. I'm sure its not the conventional way, but the positive feedback pushed me to get making and I made my first pair of harems when Edie was 6 months old (oct 14). I sold some locally to mums I had met at baby groups etc, then I launched my web-shop in March 2015.
What’s your favourite online resource (app/tool) that is indispensable for work?
Its got to be Instagram, I'm a picture person so it works for me in that respect and I've met some amazing mums on there and of course other brilliant small businesses that inspire me daily
How do you manage family and work life balance?
We always have plans, mini trips, parties etc so that makes sure I can't work all the time! Edie takes care of the rest, when she needs or me wants me she pretty much gets me!
What have you found most surprising since setting up your business?
How driven and hardworking you can be about something you are passionate about. The hours i've put into Om Baby, especially when you take into account working 4 days a week and being a mamma would shock me if I counted them! BUT I love it and I believe in my products. Also if you are doing it alone the amount of skills you need and have to learn...From pattern cutting, sewing, branding, packaging designing to marketing to styling, photography and accounting - its all part of being a solo business owner with no start up money! Basically madness!
On the tough days how do you self motivate?
On a tough day/evening I tend to just take the evening off and spend it with Stu and Edie to remind myself what's really important in this world.
What’s been your business highlight so far?
I guess the highlights come every time I get amazing feedback from mums, which I'm happy to say comes a lot.
Another amazing highlight has to be my trip to India in Feb where I met block printers and found out more about the dying and printing process. My dream to to block print my own designs for Om Baby, this is going to take time but I will get there!
What have you got planned next?
I'm going to have a baby and that will take up a lot of my time and attention thats for sure; but i'm also, after promising it over and over working on a collection of similar garments for the mammas! The 'MOM' range will be a small limited edition capsule and all going well i'll have this for next for next spring.
And finally….what’s your top tip for anyone thinking of starting their own business?
Go for it! Make sure its something you love to do and believe in as a massive investment of time and energy is required to make it happen.
Every Monday we will bring you a new Doers & Dreamers interview. Let us know who else you would like to know more about.