Breast or Bottle, muslin’s are a baby bag essential (FACT!) but one lovely mama took it one step further and created beautiful muslin’s which on first glance look super stylish but are in fact a sensory experience for your little ones eyes and without getting all scientific actually aids babies’ cognitive and visual development. Read founder Jen’s story here in our next installment of Behind the Brand with Etta Loves.
Tell us about Etta Loves and how you came up with the idea?
I was sat feeding then 6 week old little Etta when I realised she was actively trying to focus on my black and white patterned top. It was the first thing I’d seen her really stare at, so when I glanced at the plain muslin flung over my shoulder something clicked. I went to a baby sensory class that morning and ran the idea past my NCT friends and they said to do it! So Etta Loves was born; turning the humble muslin into so much more, as the patterns, scale and colours stimulate babies’ visual and cognitive development.
Who is your inspiration?
Rather predictably it’s little Etta. She is inspiring me to work towards a future where I can take more control of my life and working week so that I can spend as much time with her as possible. She is also totally and utterly fascinated by everything, so is a constant reminder of the value and joy that comes from stimulating tiny eyes with our products.
What first steps did you take before starting Etta Loves?
A lot of self doubt and questioning how on earth I would ever get a product to market, are they steps? My career to date wasn’t helpful at that stage so I was in totally new, uncomfortable territory. I made sure, however, that I researched the concept fully with local mums and gathered the perfect team in our designer and our orthoptist.
How long was it before you acted on your idea, to then getting your first product manufactured?
I had the idea in March I believe and had a sample by May and launched on the 3rd November. So fairly quickly, but I wasn’t at work so was able to get through a fair amount of tasks during my maternity leave.
What has been the highlight so far?
So hard to say. Our Junior Design Award perhaps. Or every wonderful stockist who totally believes in what I’m doing and the efficacy of our products. But probably the biggest buzz is seeing them in action on total strangers – it’s insane!
What did you find most challenging?
The production process, hands down. Finding a factory, making decisions on fabrics and inks and finishes is so far out of my comfort zone and area of expertise. I have made a few bloopers but that’s how I’m learning and i’ve made sure to make the best of some bad situations.
Which is your favourite product to date?
I change my mind on a daily basis! My constant love though is the starfish as not only is it stunning but it’s our cleverest design in terms of the sensory stimulation. The overall outline is visible to babies as young as 10 days old but as they get to 8-10 weeks they will start to see the circles that make up the pattern, working their little eyes and brains as they make sense of it all.
What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
That not going to Uni would turn out OK, so not to panic. I’d also tell myself to be nicer to my mum, as she’s a total diamond, and I was a little shit to her.
What’s your Modern Little Person’s bedroom style?
It’s actually more liberty print than monochrome. It’s pink and green and full of fun prints and fairy lights – which are surprisingly cool!
What can’t you live without?
Aside from my family, I’d say sugar. My god I need sugar to keep going (bad isn’t it…)
Probably Ru Paul’s Drag Race – it single-handedly held me together in the early days of mat leave and continues to make me feel good about the world. It’s insanely flamboyant and frivolous, but can still make me cry.
What advice would you give to others thinking about starting a business?
Do you research to know that you have a unique proposition, or at least a better way of doing something. That way you can be confident in every move you make and have a clear selling point.
What’s the best piece of advice you received when you became a mum?
To try not to stress out about everything as it all changes all the time. It really is so true, although at the time it’s not what you want to hear as it’s irrelevant what’s around the corner when you feel like you’re just trying to get through the next hour or day, but it’s so so true and helped me to find some perspective when I was at my wits end (with feeding / sleeping / pooing etc)
What are your top tips for surviving motherhood?
Say yes to help, ask for help and surround yourself with like-minded people who you can be at your worst with and it doesn’t matter.
Apart from Etta Loves muslins, what is your must have baby product?
I loved our Comotomo bottles (Etta refused a bottle until we found these winners) and the baby bjorn bouncer. We also love Ewan the Dream sheep, although in the early weeks the harp music would make me cry!