Thursday, 19 July 2012

Inspirational Women: Catherine Lobley of Poco Nido

I bumped into Catherine when Noah was just a few months old at a mother and baby group. We both had that haunted new mum look of sleepless nights and adjusting to a new life of nappies and baby spew where we felt like jellyfish out of water.

We realised quickly that we had grown up in the same town with mutual friends. We'd also both spent several years working in London and had both followed our hearts back up North. We never made the cup of coffee that we'd promised ourselves that day, but inevitably our paths recently crossed again. I was editing a local magazine for mums and Catherine was promoting her new baby footwear and clothing business, Poco Nido

I loved how the product and the business looked so professional, design-lead but still so much fun. So we finally sat down for a catch up over a cup of strong tea. I wanted to ask her more about what had inspired her to start the business and get her take on style after years working as a footwear and accessories designer.

What inspired you to create your business, and tell us a bit about your journey so far? 

The brand was created purely out of a (selfish) need to work, to gain a happy personal work-life balance and to bring an additional income into the family. 
It was to be a 'job' with regulated and flexible working times to fit in with regular childcare, close to home, which was more reliable than an occasional high-pressure freelance project. Nipping off to Watford from Sheffield 2 days a week was getting a little tedious, my kids are 2 and 4. And, of course, because it's nice to do something creative which other people pat you on the back for...

What has been the main difference between designing for children over designing for their Mums?

Designing for kids is much more fun, it allows a complete free reign, you can almost do what ever you like. Obviously it depends on whether you set yourself up to be a serious style contender in kids fashion or whether you just want to make fun and functional stuff for kids. We're in the fun and functional camp so anything goes really. Kids fashion is less stressful than adult fashion too -which is a bonus. 

As an entrepreneur and Mum what does style mean to you, and how important is it when you are doing business day to day?

This one is more difficult to answer, most of my business is conducted over phone and email, I work on my own in my basement, so I could be in my pyjamas and people wouldn't notice. 

Although the reality is I'm one of those people who won't leave the house without my make up on and my hair straightened, my husband despairs at my morning routine, but if I didn't stick to it I wouldn't feel like me. When I have days where I know I'm meeting people I up the ante but I do always make an effort -you never know who will ring the doorbell. 

How would you define your style and how has it evolved over the years?

When I started university all those years ago at 18, there is no getting away from it...I was as square as they come. Thankfully after 12 years spent being infused with the delights of London I actually have my own style. I think it's pretty laid back but always well put together. I have a 2 and a 4 year old so it's difficult to be very stylish while covered in jam. 

I like simple well cut shapes but tonnes of pattern (good for hiding the jam). I like to be comfortable, not feeling fussy and constrained. I also like little niche labels which no one else has, finding little known items, mostly collected overseas, is a real thrill. 

I love items with heritage and materials of integrity. I've learnt what shapes suit me over the years and I stick to them, I'm a fierce creature of habit in that respect.

What is your favourite item of clothing and accessory?

At the moment it's a Lie Down I Think I Love You - Sweetheart Bag in tan with a vintage scarf [5]. It's so pretty, the leather is delicious and best of all the inside is like a tardis, so plenty of room for a nappy or two without downgrading to a change bag. 

I'm also in love with a horse print cardigan from French Connection [4]. 

1. Charm necklace, Sophie Harley
2. Rose gold shoes, Christian Louboutin
3. Metallic clutch, Mulberry
4. Horse print top, French Connection
5. Sweetheart bag, Lie Down I Think I Love You 
6. Sequinned top, French Connection

Where is the most stylish place you've travelled to?

There are too many to mention, I've travelled a lot with my previous jobs and have loved having my eyes opened to what the world has to offer. All the places I've been have their own points of merit, style is a subjective thing. 

The intricacies and handmade elements you find in Indian cities for me sit equally alongside the modern perfectness which New York City is steeped in. Antwerp, Barcelona and Copenhagen will always be personal favourites, I like the traditional european feeling which they ooze; the beautiful buildings and the impeccable manners of the inhabitants. 

As a footwear designer how many pairs of shoes do you have?

I have no idea, I'm guessing about only 50-60. I've had to get rid of so many....we just don't have the space. I most feel the loss of the mustard patent Miu Miu's I gave away 4 years ago.

What is your advice for other women wanting to start their own business?

Make sure you really believe in what you're doing, if you don't want to shout it from the roof-tops then maybe it's not such a good idea. It's a long hard road so you need to make sure you're doing something that will make you happy.

Don't compare your work-life balance with other women, it's different for different people.

Grit your teeth and jump in, don't delay!

You can see more of Catherine's designs at:

You can also find her online at:

Image credit: Amy Bartle

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