Founders of kids fashion brand LITTLECIRCLE Anna Bromilow and Lisa Picardo on the future children’s style
Words Helen Baron
Tell us about the concept of kids fashion brand LITTLECIRCLE – what makes it unique?
Kids fashion brand LITTLECIRCLE is an online destination offering beautiful, covetable and contemporary clothing for kids. We source our collection from all over the world, in particular from chic, artisan brands. We curate an expertly edited collection out of these special pieces, so our aesthetic is unique. At the same time as raising the style stakes, we wanted to address the short shelf life of kids clothes. We created RECIRCLE, a parallel platform for beautiful pre-owned kids fashion. RECIRCLE allows outgrown items to be simply sent back in exchange for credit to buy new. This is a savvy, neat and truly modern solution to stylishly dressing children that just makes sense to us. It’s this circular economy combined with our slick platform and unique aesthetic that sets us apart conceptually.
Why did you decide to break from your old careers; how have your backgrounds in fashion and finance helped shape the business?
We’d been talking about teaming up and fulfilling our entrepreneurial ambitions for over a decade! The urge to create something based on our own vision was immense. And the timing just felt right, for both of us. We’d been interested in kids’ fashion for some time. Our vision and concept came together pretty quickly and we haven’t looked back. We’re both ‘all or nothing’ types, which is one reasons we work so well together! But the difference in backgrounds has been hugely complementary and beneficial.
Anna: I’ve been in the Fashion Industry a long time and that’s been incredibly useful. Having spent countless hours pulling rails together and editing for shoots, I guess it comes quite naturally to be put together a childrenswear collection. And everything on the site is styled into looks so that our customers can be guided practically. I hasten to add though that every aesthetic decision is joint – Lisa is hugely creative and has incredible taste. We are also really excited to be creating our own original content for the site. There is currently a defined lack in the fashion world for beautiful childrenswear editorial. So using my Fashion Editor skills to nurture this editorial aspect of the business is key.
Lisa: My passion has always been to do business and I have always held the ambition to build my own company. I was very lucky to have a career in finance with a focus on retail/consumer. Those experiences have been absolutely invaluable in the creation of LITTLECIRCLE. Spending a lot of time in the boardrooms of retail businesses has provided me with useful insights and perspectives. I was trained to be able to execute deals, tolerate huge pressure, make decisions, solve problems, be well and truly out of my comfort zone and not sleep… all of which are highly relevant to life running a start-up! I’ve also really enjoyed championing the technology build-out and the creation of our digital presence. Those who know me, know that I am a suppressed creative, so it’s been wonderful to finally have the chance to indulge that part of me.
What do you look for in your favourite brands; and how do you go about cherry-picking what you stock on the site?
There is that gut feeling when you see something incredibly beautiful or mouth-wateringly covetable. We tend to go on instinct but are highly critical when making decisions. We observe two golden rules for each item we pick: we would personally buy it; and we feel confident that it couldn’t be found elsewhere. Because everything we stock has to be that little bit special and feel individual. We are bridging the gap between throw-away fast fashion and extreme luxury for children. We champion original design and superior quality. Our mission is to enable our customers to dress their children as stylishly as they would dress themselves. Favourite brands of ours such as Louis Louise, Morley and Simple Kids, have distinct signature aesthetics. A perfect balance of classic and modern is also key. We make sure our collection is always rich and varied and we are incredibly specific about putting it together!
How do you style your own children?
A: I have two very different daughters! My eldest is quite the tomboy and likes nothing better than Stella McCartney trainers and a jumpsuit. My youngest lives in dresses and is never seen in public without some kind of flamboyant headband. My own style certainly translates into their looks. I never like them to look too classic or contrived. An effortless, modern romance would best describe them. They probably look more French than English in style, and as they get older, we experiment more with colour. I grew tired of grey in their tiny years. I am now officially jealous of their wardrobes.
L: If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t say I am able to impose much style on my kids as both have very strong individual senses of style themselves. I am very encouraging and respectful of their fashion choices even at such a young age. My 6 year-old son is quite quirky and eccentric in his tastes and he’s not afraid to push the boundaries. He has two self-styled signature looks: either skinny jeans, with a cool shirt and Adidas Shell Toes or full on black-tie. He begged for a full tuxedo and top hat for Christmas and most weekends will come down on Saturday morning wearing the lot. Top of his wish list are Tails, more bow ties, anything black and a pink t-shirt. My 3 year-old daughter is a real girly girl. She loves pretty, but in quite a grown-up way. It has to be in a neutral shade – she favours cream, grey, nude, metallic and black and refuses to wear anything too bright. She already knows the value of a good accessory (statement hair bows, little bags) and she absolutely adores anything furry. They both love to dress-up. He as a dragon or space man and she as Queen Elsa.
What’s the most exciting thing about children’s fashion right now?
The fact that serious fashion brands, really high-end womenswear labels have expanded into this territory is a real moment for children’s fashion. This market is going to be worth an estimated £6bn in the UK in 2017. It will be driven by an increasing birth rate, older parents and an attitude shift towards how we dress our children. So its growth, potential and relevance in the fashion industry make it incredibly exciting. And also importantly, children’s fashion is beginning to fully embrace e-commerce. We want to champion kids fashion and shine a strong light on childrenswear in the digital world. A slick, modern platform and forward thinking attitude has been an essential part of our business.
What has the business taught you so far? Is there anything you would do differently in hindsight?
It has been the most incredibly steep and rewarding learning curve! The fighting spirit runs deep in both of us. There is generally never enough time – we are always up late and drive ourselves slightly insane, as we are both perfectionists. We should probably have allowed ourselves a little more sleep in preparation for what was to come. Hard to do when you absolutely live and breathe the business.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
A: More often than not we travel to the country for weekends – visiting friends or family. I like nothing better than being part of one big happy group, particularly spending time with the children and godchildren en masse. Long dinners fuelled with Prosecco are my biggest joy. If I have a rare spare half hour in the house when it’s really quiet there is nothing better than sitting at the piano. Keeping up to date with magazines such as French Vogue is a must and the OCD in me often urges me to colour coordinate my wardrobe. But if I’m honest when I’m not working, I am just desperately trying to stay organized and on top of life’s admin.
Lisa: I’m absolutely, totally devoted to my supportive husband, so that I can spend as much time as possible with them. We are all very much homebodies, so we are pretty good at having a wonderful time doing quite low-key stuff. Weekends are very much about seeing family and friends. We’re blessed with a whole host of nieces, nephews and godchildren. Their birthday parties alone dictate the majority of our social life and mean that we are always spending quality time with loved-ones. My husband and I are on a mission to holiday as much as possible with the kids while they are young – annual trips are so good for the soul. It’s been a long time since I had any time for personal hobbies, but I am obsessed with home improvement. It’s not unusual for me to be found repainting walls at midnight when the urge arises. I do also spend a lot of time tidying – I’m a minimalist, and I love to clear out things that can find better homes.