The founders of child-oriented modern home decor brand Olli Ella, working mothers Chloe and Olivia Brookman share the secrets to their runaway success
Before founding home decor brand Olli Ella, we started off as a nursing chair brand in 2010, almost by accident. I was expecting my first baby and couldn’t find a chair to fit the eclectic look of the nursery I was creating, so Olivia and I designed and had made locally a modern, eco-friendly nursing chair (now named “The Da-da Glider”). Following this we had a flood of requests from expectant friends to have one made for them. Olivia and I decided to launch a brand of British-made modern nursing chairs, which we called Olli Ella, a combination of our first and middle names. Within a few months we were stocked at Harrods, and a few months after that, had opened up a second manufacturing facility in Australia! In 2011 we launched our Manchester range, which has grown into soft goods, textiles, storage and home decor. The experience has taught us to be very comfortable making mistakes and treating each one as a valuable lesson in business. And it’s taught us to have fun, trust our instincts and never stop moving.
The work/life balance is more about juggling than anything else. Our families and company have grown in a big way over the past couple of years so it’s always exciting, exhausting and exhilarating. We both try to have a ‘no work’ policy when spending time with our kids, but it’s not always possible.
On particularly busy weeks, we make sure to set aside at least one full day where mobiles are out of sight and emails remain unanswered.
Kids products are fun, inspiring and challenging all at once. We design with our own families in mind, so it’s exciting when our products do finally make it out of production and into our homes. The nursery represents all of the love, excitement and dreams that we have for our new babies so contributing to that magical process is a wonderful feeling. We love Instagram and we’re really flattered to see how willing our customers are to share their beautiful and inspiring family spaces.
Travel has always been a huge part of our lives. Growing up between London, Los Angeles and Sydney, we were exposed to different cultures, accents and climates. This fostered a great sense of curiosity and adaptability and is something we both try to impart to our children. Travel also plays a huge part in our collections. We draw inspiration from the colours and textures that we come across on our voyages, from the luxurious hand-spun woollen rugs in Morocco to the incredible craftsmanship of woven goods in Asia.
We’ve always been very interested in the arts. We also own a gallery together specialising in twentieth century works, so it’s been part of our lives for a long time. Launching Olli Ella has been very different, of course, to owning and running a gallery; but it’s incredible to be in an industry where we are able to work with such beautiful materials and creative people, and to be driven to challenge ourselves daily to create products to make people feel more, well, at home in their homes.