Absolutely Mama meets super stylish mother-of-two Cecile Reinaud, founder of maternity wear label Seraphine.
Absolutely Mama: How did you come to work in women’s fashion?
I was always interested in fashion and style. My grandparents owned a factory that supplied the top Parisian fashion houses, and growing up I remember my grandmother teaching me how to sew and customise my own clothes. That being said, I didn’t start out intending to work in the fashion industry – I actually started my career in advertising!
AM: How did the brand come into being?
It was while I was working as an account executive at an advertising agency that I had my big idea. I had lots of pregnant friends and colleagues at the time, and I would hear them complaining that they couldn’t find any stylish maternity clothes to wear to work. I did some market research and realised that there was a serious gap in the market. I decided to fill that gap, and that’s when Seraphine was born.
AM: How did you come to base yourself in London rather than France?
I’ve always been split between London and Paris – I was born in France, but we moved to the UK when I was 10. I later went back to France for university, and then started my career in London. I love both cities, but London has been my home for many years now. It was definitely the right place to set up my business – the city is a fantastic creative hub, where entrepreneurship is nurtured and encouraged.
AM: Did having a family change your perspective on making maternity clothes?
I don’t think it changed my perspective, so much as honing it. I fell pregnant with my oldest, Lorenz, within a year of setting up Seraphine, which gave me a fantastic opportunity to test out our products on myself.
After my youngest son, Florian, was born I came up with the idea for the nursing collection. My aim has always been to create stylish & comfortable clothes, which women would be happy to wear even if they weren’t pregnant or nursing. And becoming a mum myself only confirmed what I already knew – that women want to have the option of sticking to their style through pregnancy and nursing.
AM: What’s been the biggest challenge so far? Do you manage to find time for yourself between business and family commitments?
Having the right people around you is so important when you’re running a business, and recruitment has proved challenging in the past. I’ve learnt to trust my gut when it comes to hiring – sometimes you just know!
Finding the right work life balance is something I’ve had to really work on. I’m a perfectionist by nature and have had to learn a few tough lessons about letting go of the things I can’t control. But I’ve found what works for me and my family, and both I and my boys are happier and more relaxed for it.
I love to travel. Whether it’s with work or with my family, I count time spent away as ‘me-time’ and I always return from a trip with a refreshed store of energy.
AM: What are your style inspirations?
Our core aesthetic is Parisian chic, but we design for several different styles within that basic framework. I pride myself on the diversity of our collection – I always say that at Seraphine we dress everyone from rock stars to royalty, and when planning our range we always incorporate styles to suit these different tastes.
Whether a woman is looking for stylish maternity dresses and tops, a flattering pair of maternity jeans, or even basics like maternity bras and nightwear, my aim is to make sure that she finds something she loves amongst our collection.
AM: How would you describe your personal style?
Personally I like to keep my style quite classic and elegant – I suppose you could call it Parisian chic, but with a modern twist.
AM: What do you love to dress your children in?
My boys are getting older now, and definitely have their own ideas about what they want to wear. I tend to let them choose their own things, and they generally do a pretty good job but I do like them wearing Ralph Lauren.
AM: What’s the most fun thing about your job?
I thrive on new challenges, so for me the best thing about my job is that no two days are ever the same. One day I’ll be reviewing our latest collection, the next I’ll be meeting with journalists or discussing new marketing initiatives – I love the variety!
Though I have to admit, I think my favourite aspect of my job is getting to dress famous pregnant celebrities. Seraphine is a favourite brand of a whole host of A-listers, everyone from Gwen Stefani, Anne Hathaway and Jessica Alba to Marion Cotillard, the Princesses of Sweden and the Duchess of Cambridge have worn our clothes through their pregnancies.
AM: What’s next for the brand?
We have plenty of exciting things in the pipeline for this year. We’ll be opening a new flagship store in Paris in the summer, and I’m currently looking into possible locations for new stores in New York and LA too!