Nothing brings me greater joy than getting to support Mums who have started businesses from home. One of my favourite features on Life Unexpected is my ‘Interview With A Mum In Business‘. It’s so lovely to get a rare insight into these amazing Mums lives, who have started businesses around the juggle of family life and who have let nothing get in their way of creating their dream.
This weeks ‘Interview With A Mum In Business’ features a very talented kids clothing designer called Rona. Her products are trendy, innovative, creative and oh so cool!
If your kid is a trend setter, you’re going to want to take a peek at her website. You can even do that right now by clicking here, just make sure you pop back to read all about Rona after!
Rona built her business from the ground up. She is involved in every process, from the designing of the clothes to sourcing all of the materials and the quality of her clothes are second to none. In fact, they’re so perfect, that none of the clothes she has sold, have ever been returned!
Now lets find out how Rona created her business and how she runs it around her family life. You also have a chance to win a clothing item of your choice from XOKiddo, at the end of this post.
Tell us a bit about your business?
XOKiddo is a trendy yet timeless, organic children’s fashion label. It was launched in April 2017 and is a London based label designed by myself, Rona Hollows, for boys and girls aged one to five.
Here at XOKiddo we are passionate about the benefits of organic cotton clothing but wanted to show that it can still be on trend and look cool on your kids.
It is softer, causes fewer allergies, reduces the use of chemicals and no harmful toxic pesticides means it improves the health of farmers, workers, consumers and the entire eco-system. Only the best organic fabrics available are used to ensure everyday comfort and durability. I was born and raised in the Netherlands and there is no denying my Dutch genes in my design.
A combination of minimalism and practicality, coupled with bold experimentation and quirkiness make Dutch design a worldwide success. All of these characteristics run true in XOKiddo and in particular it is the quality of the tailoring, the bold use of contrasting colours, and the minimalistic approach to design that makes XOKiddo undeniably Dutch.
In a world that is overloaded with complicated design and busy prints XOKiddo has a strong theme of simplicity.
How did you get the idea for your business?
I am from the Netherlands and I always ended up buying lots of clothing items for my kids when I was back home visiting my family, mainly because the Dutch have a different style. I guess you can compare it with Scandinavian design as it is minimalistic, practical and comfortable but I just couldn’t find it over here in London. As I had always had the dream to design again, I felt now was the time to start while my kids were still young. I hope to grow the clothing label in line with them so one day I will also have clothes for teens.
Where do you like to work from?
I work mainly from home and I also have a stall a few days a week at Spitalfields Market. The kids are in day care having a great time and I can be very productive and get lots of work achieved. What I love so much about being at Spitalfields Market is the interaction with the customers as it is like having my own little shop.
How do you balance both work and family life?
It is a big adjustment to go from being a full-time mum to trying to balance kids with work and this is challenging for many families, but all you can do is try your best. It’s actually very common in the Netherlands for mothers to work part-time and it is just a case of striking a work/life balance. As I work through the clothing seasons I will find a routine and know better what to expect, what deadlines to focus on and what people expect from me.
What is your vision/dream for your business?
I want my label to be as eco-friendly as it can be and to find manufacturers who work with solar panels only, reduce water waste, use as little plastic as possible, use no chemicals at all and use recycled materials etc.
My husband is from New Zealand and we recently bought a piece of land there with the aim of building our dream house on that little piece of paradise. Therefore, I would like my online shop up and running so I can continue to build on my business from New Zealand.
What have been your biggest challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge so far has been getting my business online as I am a designer first and foremost. However, I know it is crucial to have an online presence, so I can engage with my customers via social media and for them to have the convenience of purchasing online. I am still working hard on it and have challenges to overcome but this helps to keep me focussed.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
The highlight of my business so far has been people posting photos of their kids with their new XOKiddo clothes on as that really makes my day! Also, the fact that I haven’t had any returns/refunds yet makes me do a little happy dance. I am always preaching about the quality of my clothes and I am so thrilled people like them as much as I do.
How did you fund your business?
I am a graduate designer and I was working as a Jersey/Knit specialist for a women’s wear label in the Netherlands. I have always known that this is what I am good at and where my passion lies. However, when I arrived in London in 2010 I couldn’t find a job as a designer, but always dreamed that one day I would design again either for a company or ideally start my own label. My husband and I have always been putting money aside for me to be able to realise this dream.
What advice would you give to other mums starting a business?
My advice would be don’t try to do it all yourself! Delegate the jobs you are not so good at, so you can focus on the things that you are good at.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
A typical day for me would start with dropping the kids off at nursery, followed by responding to emails. I would then check and measure samples and adjust them to send back to the manufacturer. I’m always looking for inspiration and I am constantly drawing the next collection and making the size tables for it. I regularly source new qualities and make colour cards and source markets that might be interesting for me to trade in the upcoming season.
On a daily basis I prepare online orders and go to the post office to send these out. I am always refreshing the website and posting updates and information on social media which takes up a lot of my time. I try to send out weekly press releases, photograph clothing/sets and pay any bills and there is always lots of emails/skype calls and phone calls to make. By 5.30pm I start cooking and my husband will pick up the kids from nursery.
Do you have any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
As my son was diagnosed with NF (Neurofibromatosis) Type 1, I must take him to the hospital for regular check-ups. He also has a delay in development which is mostly regarding his speech and he therefore, needs a bit more attention/teaching than my daughter.
I feel bad when my daughter is telling me that she is going to work and pretending to be on the phone and computer, as I know she is copying me. However, as I am still a baby in the business world, I find it hard to find the correct work/life balance, but I hope that once I am more established this will improve.
Do you ever get the chance to have time off for yourself? If so, what do you like to do?
I am a morning person, so I am therefore very productive in the morning and not so much in the evening. Very early on in my business I decided it’s better for my productivity to stop working (unless there are important emails to do) as soon as the kids are in bed. That’s when I sit on the couch with a cup of tea watching TV with my husband.
And lastly…What is your favourite thing about the products that you create?
My favourite thing is the quality of my products and I am so excited about them. Not only are they organic but they are also super soft, comfortable and durable. The other great benefit of the products is they are mainly all unisex so are great to hand down to the next sibling which saves the customer money in the long run, reduces landfill and is gentle on the child’s skin. So, it’s a win, win situation ☺
Thank you so much Rona for this wonderful insight into your business. Rona is also kindly giving away a clothing item of your choice from her website.
To be in with a chance to win, simply enter via the rafflecopter below…
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please note that all e-mail addresses collected on entry, will be added to both XOKiddo’s and Life Unexpected’s e-mail database.
Competition is open to residents of the UK aged 18 There is no cash alternative offered. The winner will be drawn at random and will receive a clothing item of their choice from XOKiddo (subject to availability). The giveaway will close on the 8nd March at midnight, the winner will be notified through e-mail. The Winner will be asked to provide an email address and full postal address.
How amazing is Rona?
Thank you so much Rona, for this lovely interview! I really loved hearing about how your home country inspired your clothes and I think your goals for keeping everything organic and eco-friendly is amazing. I also love that you’ve worked out which times of the day you work best, so you can take time out in the evenings for you. I’m really excited to watch your business flourish more in 2018. I hope you get to start building your dream home on your beautiful plot of land soon!
Liked this post?
This year Life Unexpected is on a mission to showcase Mums in business and also to help Mums to find the balance in life. If you’re someone who works from home, be sure to check out these two posts:
So, what do you think of XOKiddo and Rona’s designs? Let me know your thoughts below!