Welcome to Mama Crush: a new series of Q&As with brilliant and inspiring women, from entrepreneurs to beauty editors and interiors stylists.
First up is Alienor Falconer, designer and founder of The Bright Company aka the finest sleepwear in the land! When we decided to launch Scout & Co, The Bright Company was one of the first brands we knew we just had to stock. We asked Alienor 20 questions about her business, what's cool to do with kids in Brighton, tips for new mama entrepreneurs, bedtime routines, style favourites and more…
1. Tell us a bit about you and your home life…
"We live in sunny Brighton, on the south coast of England with our two children Corwin (5) and Effie (3). We moved down from London about three years ago and haven’t looked back. We spend so much time outside now, it’s brilliant with the kids. Can’t beat an afternoon on the beach after school!"
Corwin modelling The Bright Company Slack Jyms PJs
2. Tell us about The Bright Company and how it started…
"The Bright Company came together fairly organically after the birth of my son Corwin. I didn’t really want to go back to my old job in fashion. I’m a total perfectionist and hated not being in control of every aspect of the products we were working on and I couldn’t marry the extensive travel with family life so I took the plunge to start up my own business. I found so many cool kids' clothing brands but there wasn’t the equivalent for sleepwear, so I thought I’d change that!"
3. What’s next for The Bright Company?
"AW16 brings us a really lovely collaboration with Pax and Hart (you heard it here first!) as well as our signature styles in new prints. All our products from AW16 onwards will now be made using organic cotton. We have been working really hard behind the scenes to bring our customers the softest and most ethical cotton we can find. Of course, we will have some lovely Christmas specials too and we have added a sleepsuit into the collection so the whole family can join in."
4. What’s the best part about running your own business?
"Loads actually! I love being able to take a morning off to see a school play without having to have it signed off and being able to work around the children – I want to be very present for my kids. I love the control too, as I mentioned, I love to decide everything from colour palettes to patterns, prints, shoot direction, etc – although this can have its downsides too!"
5. What’s your favourite piece from your SS16 collection?
"I love the Little Jeans set. It’s so sweet on and works perfectly for PJs, beachwear, underwear or a little holiday set… Versatility is key!"
6. Can you take us through a typical day at work?
"I usually drop both children off at school and preschool, then my studio is just round the corner. It depends on the point in the season, but recently we have been working on AW16 pre-productions, so signing off colour swatches and making final pattern amendments. I usually eat lunch at my desk and then the day’s orders are packed and one of us will go to the post office to get them sent."
7. What music do you listen to at your studio?
"I actually only ever listen to BBC 6 Music at work."
8. You live in Brighton, do you have any local tips to share?
"OK, so for adult restaurants, either The Set or 64 Degrees, with the kids Riddle & Finns on the seafront. Plateau is a lovely cocktail bar.
The Set restaurant
We love the beaches at Hove and Rottingdean as they tend to be a bit quieter and more family orientated and there are rock pools at Rottingdean at low tide. The cycle path along the seafront reaches from Brighton to Saltdean and is totally flat and beautiful. Of course, part of the beauty of Brighton is the South Downs, which is on our doorstep so there are endless walks and beautiful places to visit within spitting distance."
The South Downs
9. What would you do if you had a spare afternoon – no kids, no work!?
"Wonder what was going on! Either potter in the garden or perhaps a spa with my lovely mum and sis."
10. Any advice for new mama entrepreneurs?
"It’s not easy, like, ever, at all. it might be fun (mostly) but it’s hard work. I work most evenings and weekends, I’m endlessly behind and you soon discover your weaknesses – mine is managing finances. You will slog your guts out and sometimes what you try and do won’t work or you will suddenly see someone else who is doing the same thing as you. Stay strong, stay true to yourself and your idea and give yourself a break. Switching off is the hardest part, but you have to learn to hand over to other people at some point. There seems to be a growing pressure on women to have it all: run a business, raise your children and keep an immaculate house. But the reality is you can’t do it all. Decide what your priorities are and focus on them."
11. What are your children’s favourite bedtime stories?
"Roald Dahl and Sarah Dyer. Corwin devours books, he loves being read chapter books at the moment and you can’t beat Roald Dahl – his storytelling is magical. Effie actually only ever wants a Sarah Dyer story – recently we had Mrs Muffly’s Monster every night for six weeks! Although a few Moomin stories have snuck in recently."
One of Sarah Dyer's amazing books
12. What’s the bedtime routine at your house?
"Our kids are in bed at 7pm. We are very strict on that but it works, they need a lot of sleep – sleep is very important in our house! I go to the gym a lot in the evenings, then a quickish supper and most of the time we then sit down to work. On the weekends we like to have a glass of wine and watch Peaky Blinders after supper and not work if we can."
13. What’s the funniest thing your kids have said lately?
"This was my conversation with Effie on the way to school this morning… Effie: 'I like chips. And ice cream. Chips and ice cream, and, what's that, ummm, not hummus, yes ketchup. I like chips and ice cream and ketchup.' The conversation then proceeded onto who she would share her chips with – not Corwin!
Corwin is terrible at lying. On the first day back to school, he started telling me his tummy hurt. I questioned that, then it was his throat, then a ‘terrible cough’ –anything so he didn’t have to get up and get dressed!"
14. Favourite accounts to follow on Instagram?
"Way too many! I always love the articles on Motherland, so they are well worth a follow. Fellow brand, Beau Loves' feed is always so fun and interesting. Little Spree and Smallish magazine for inspiration."
15. Do you have a mama crush?
"Laura (@_g3 on Instagram) is the most inspiring mother ever. She takes beautiful pictures and is a wonderful person too. She singlehandedly looks after her son with learning difficulties on about three minutes sleep a night."
@_g3 Laura and her son Oscar
16. What’s your favourite thing to wear? Do you have a style uniform?
"I’ve just brought two jumpsuits and they are fab, but a bit dressy for my everyday style. I’m usually in jeans and flats."
17. What do your kids love to wear?
"Other than PJs (!) Corwin wears shorts from March – November with one of two hoodies. Effie is pretty changeable. She loves a swirly dress, but is also very keen on twinning with Corwin!"
18. What’s your décor style?
"White walls with a fairly neutral backdrop – lots of grey – and then print and pattern in things like cushions. I’d love to be a minimalist, but I struggle to have the enthusiasm to tidy enough!
19. Do you have a foolproof recipe that everyone loves to eat at home?
"Roast chicken, we like to eat supper as a family at the weekends and a roast is always a favourite. In the summer we make it with salad."
20. What are your three favourite picks from Scout & Co?
"A Baggu striped bag for me, a Mini Rodini swimsuit for Effie and an Agatha Cub bunny cap for Corwin."