Melanie Marshall and Suzi Bergman of Storksak on honest hours in working life
You met through the school-run. Did you throw a few ideas around before settling on the idea for Storksak?
We did, quite a few! In fact the initial idea was a baby sling, hence our brand name Storksak. But Suzi, being a lawyer, felt we might want to start off with a product that was in many ways easier and faster to bring to market. Some of the ideas we had at the beginning have since been done by other brands, but we are still very adventurous, and have quite a few different concepts bubbling in the design studio.
Why do you think the brand took off on a global level?
Well, I’d like to say it was all down to product, being foremost a product person, but having some very big celebrities did make a difference in the US particularly. It’s so much easier to pick up the phone and call a big US buyer when your products have been seen on people like Angelina Jolie and Liv Tyler. I also like to believe that we pioneered highly functional and stylish products for parents at a time when there wasn’t anything like this around. There were either very expensive designer bags, which had little function, or very drab functional bags that you really didn’t want to use.
What prompted Storksak Organics?
We realised that many of the organic baby products on the market were not certified and the quality was average. We wanted to make a range of exceptional organic, made-in-England products for babies and children, so we worked with a team of specialists in organic skincare. Our first major account was Whole Foods – they loved the fact that our packaging is neutral and different to the other brands they carry.
Tell us about your working day and life in the StorkSak office
Fun and busy. Hands-on and smaller-scale. It really is like a big family, but without the family feuds! My first design assistant, who is now much better than me, has been with us from day one! Our accountant has been with us from year two, and our totally amazing art director has been with us nearly the whole time.
Why do you think it’s important to champion flexible working patterns?
Funnily enough, I think this was how parents used to do things a thousand years ago… but with industrialisation, we started to compartmentalise the family unit. I mean, think of when families all lived together. Mothers would be able to leave their children and go off to do other things, and there wasn’t this totally crazy fixed pattern that makes working parents’ lives a misery. I strongly believe in giving people the working environment that makes them happy, makes them love what they do and want to do it well. I was listening to a radio programme on Nomad developers in the tech industry, very much a younger crowd, and realised how now, we have to embrace flexibility, it’s how it works. For parents it’s a must, and so long as communication within the team is good and open, I can prove after fifteen years doing it – and having a team doing it – that it works and works much better.