I love this time of the month as it when I get to be inspired by wonderful handmade fabulousness through my “Pay it Forward” initiative. This month is the utterly gorgeous Chykaboo. A stunning baby and kids decor brand based in the UK. Since I first saw the name “Chykaboo” I have been intrigued by it and I have wanted to discover more about its maker, Louise, her story and divine products.
Today I am so excited and honoured to bring you the first in my “Pay it Forward” 2015 initiative and to let you know more about the divine kids linen and decor range from Cream Empire!
I have been following Cream Empire for quite a while now on my Instagram account and I adored Carolina’s monochrome bedding as soon as I laid eyes on it. It is so refreshing, so modern yet utterly classic. I would love to buy each and every piece as each design is so appealing and it is easy to mix and match with other kids linen and decor.
Born and raised in Melbourne, arguably Australia’s fashion capital, you can see that the city and its style has certainly influenced Carolina’s designs. I read recently that Melbourne woman only wear black, I am not sure that is exactly true, but black and white at least is definitely Carolina’s colour of choice.
Having only been in business less than a year, with a science degree already under her belt and fluent in Spanish, Carolina is one clever, talented and brainy mama with an eye for design and a head for business. Cream Empire has gone from strength to strength in such a short space of time and Carolina has branched out to designing and making cushions, pillowcases and cot/stroller blankets on top of her cot sheets & duvet/quilt covers. All of which are made from 100% cotton.
You can choose from custom designs like batman, clouds, hot air balloons, grid, icecreams and stripes for cot bedding or even bassinets and then mix and match it with fun pillowcases that Carolina has designed herself like Wonderwoman and Batman. She has created so many gorgeous designs in a timeless style that they can go with more Cream Empire decor, or other children’s bed linen you may already own. It is fantastically versatile and it won’t date especially if you need it for baby no 2 or 3!
With her signature style in monochrome, Carolina has recently added pops of colour, but her heart lies with black and white and in particular designing and creating cushions.
I am so thrilled to have been able to get to know a little more about Carolina, her brand, and her motivation to start this business.
Meet the Maker: Carolina Leyton and baby Javier
1. You design and create some seriously gorgeous nursery linen which all began because you couldn’t find linen for your own son’s nursery. How did you go about sourcing your own fabric in Australia and creating your own designs from scratch? Is your background in design or textiles? Have you always loved to sew?
When I first started my brand cream empire, I used fabrics from fabrics stores but I found this to be very limiting as I could never find exactly what I was looking for. I decided after much research and many bumps in the road that I had to start designing my own fabrics. I’ve always had a passion for designing and graphic design. Before cream empire was made I wanted to start a prints and wedding invitation brand as I had so much fun designing and making our wedding invites. This idea didn’t flourish as I was too busy in my ‘real’ job at that time as a research scientist and finishing my masters in science. When my little man was born and I was home, I thought this was the time to start off my dream of a small business.
To help me designing, I have completed an art and graphic design short course and will continue to take up new courses in this area as I love learning new things. I’m even considering going back to uni… Ahhh!!
Since a little girl I loved making things, my grandma taught me how to sew and knit. I never thought that this skill would help be in the future.
It was such a challenge finding fabrics to print on in Australia that I had to source fabric overseas. After endless emails with fabric wholesalers I found a printing company that could do what I was looking for. In June 2014 I launched my own designed products and launched my new and improved range.
2. What is the process around the design for your fabrics? Where do you find inspiration for the each new design?
My inspiration for each design comes from my love of fashion, beautiful things and my everyday life. Of course my little man is a huge part of my inspiration as well.
3. As a mother of a young baby, it seems a crazy idea to start up a new business whilst looking after a new born but so many mothers do it and make a huge success out of it, like yourself. How do you find the work/life balance of taking care of your son and starting up a new business? And all those sleepless nights? Would you have ever imagined doing this before having kids?
It’s hard, it’s very challenging but I would not have it any other way. When my son was younger it was easier to sew in between his naps but now it harder as he is a toddler and sleeps less. Due to this, I had to hire a helping hand as I was finding it very difficult to balance the workload. Now it’s perfect and feeling like this is what I am meant to be doing.
4. Being a handmade local business based in Melbourne and a one woman show, how hard did you find it to ask for help recently? Do you think as woman and mother’s we don’t ask for enough help?
We definitely do not ask for help. This is such a terrible thing. So many mothers out there including myself always think we can do it all, but really we can’t. It’s such a hard thing to ask for that extra helping hand, I don’t know why but it must be in our genes. To able to recognize that we need help is such a big step.
5. As a new business you started out creating monochrome designs and you have now added colourful prints like your cloud and gelato linen, what are your customer’s favourite? What are yours?
I think I will always be a monochrome style type of brand. I love black and white in home decor. My customer’s favs are definitely the grid. This would have to be my favourite as well.
6. You have created some gorgeous new designs recently including my beloved grid design, what plans are afoot for 2015 for Cream Empire? Where do you see the baby/kids linen industry heading as there are new players start up?
There are definitely many more competitors out there now than when I started. I find this to be very motivating for me. It’s fantastic that there are so any creative talented mummas out there!
For my brand, we have many more new things on the cards, I can’t wait to share what we have coming. We have our new A/W15 collection that will be launched soon. I’m so excited!
With new designs and plans to add single bed linen to her range soon (yes!), Cream Empire is an exciting, refreshing and modern brand that oozes quality and just the right amount of style for your children’s room. I am loving all her designs and I cannot wait to see what else is in store for this gorgeous kids linen company this year! Check them out here.
One of the things that I love to do in life is to give; I love giving little presents and cards, the joy that it brings the receiver, lights up my world. It is just something I have always loved doing and one reason I started this blog as I adore researching and buying gifts and making cards for friends and family.
This year I was touched by the “Pay it Forward” initiative that has taken off on social media over the start of the new year, a movement to encourage and inspire acts of kindness. There is so much bad news in the world, every day, even more so of late, that it is nice to see the real spirit of humanity, and that is essentially one of kindness and hope.
It inspired me and made me think, how can I help someone else, to brighten their day, or to give them something that might help them out in their life.
Now I am not a maker, nor am I creator, so I couldn’t make something to give to people, well apart from a hand written card. So I thought hard about what it is that I do, (my husband questions this most days with me!) and I thought that I could write up a feature on a new shop, kids designer, crafter or artist and get their brand and designs out there through my blog. Give them exposure across my blog and media channels that will help them to boost their brand. I thought that could be my way to “Pay it forward” in 2015.
I then posted this idea up on my Instagram account in January after being inspired by the fabulous Captain & Co and others I had seen on Instagram and Facebook. I thought about how many features I could write this year on top of my current work schedule and felt that I could manage 5 brands, writing about them twice over the course of the year. I felt bad only picking 5 once I had responses back, so I added in a 6th brand who had also been quick to respond to my post.
The 6 kids brands that I am so excited to write about this year are:
1. Cream Empire – stylish nursery and kids bedding and soft furnishings. Designed and made in Australia.
2. Canterbury Kids – a fab bricks and mortar children’s clothing boutique stocking Minti, Scotch & Soda, Bebe, Wilson and Frenchy and more. Based in Victoria, Australia.
3. Bowe Baby – produces practical and thoughtfully designed baby items like car seat shades with nappy holder, stroller covers as well as nursing covers and blankets that will “make parenting simple”. All designed and made in the USA.
4. Schooza – hugely fun kids dress up and costumes for all occasions. Designed and made in Australia.
5. Chykaboo – gorgeous baby blankets organic teething rings, softies and prints. Designed and made in the UK.
6. Jack and Evelyn – produces classically designed kids products such as toy boxes, poncho towels and baby bibs. Designed in Australia.
The first feature on Cream Empire will be featured later this week, so stay tuned!