Starting The Woodland Wife, I soon made connections with small independents who shared the same ethical standards and general ethos as me through Instagram.
Watching these independents launch beautiful collections time after time continues to amaze me with their creativity, but nothing amazes more than seeing these independents continue to create these collections in a time when small business is under more pressure than ever before to produce products for ‘the masses’ and maintain the high ethical standards that many would simply shy away from.
The Bright Company is one such company, and Alienor is someone I have HUGE admiration for as she continues to grow her small business and create some really beautiful seasonal collections while looking after her children.
Our first The Bright Company purchase was a night dress for our eldest which she wore one Christmas after we gave it to her in a ‘Christmas Eve’ box and I remember how much she loved it. Since then we have purchased items from The Bright Company as well as being fortunate enough to be gifted more recent collections for myself and both girls.
The Bright Company produce organic and ethical sleepwear and loungewear for the whole family, for babies, children as well as mums and dads, all of which are not only made from super-soft fabrics with no chemical treatments and using GOTS certified organic cotton, but they are also incredible lovely to look at too. Each The Bright Company collection that comes out has an amazing pattern created by other creatives and make for such lovely pieces to hold on to and pass down through a family and reworn.
The night dress I mentioned above was worn so much by our eldest, now with our new baby I can’t wait until she is old enough to wear it as it is not only such a beautiful night dress, but it also has SO much wear left in it thanks to being so well made.
I was lucky enough to find out how Alienor started The Bright Company, how she goes about creating her stunning new collections, how she maintains a healthy work/home life balance as well as what she likes to do to unwind whilst running her own business. Take a look at the ‘Spotlight On’ Q&A below.
When did you set up The Bright Company?
I started working on the company in 2012 after I left my job in fashion and launched it in early 2013.
What’s behind the company name?
Our original tag line was ‘bright sleepwear for bright young things’ it was about making intelligent design for our future generations. Products that are designed fit for purpose, that wear and wash well and are sourced and manufactured ethically.
Do you have a background in fashion?
Yes! Very much so, I studied footwear design at London College of Fashion and then went on to work at Paul Smith and was the lead product developer for all women’s shoes when I left to go on maternity leave. My background was the perfect experience to set me up for running TBC, I knew exactly how to get a product made and take it to market before I started the company.
Why pyjamas and nightwear?
When I had my son I was suddenly plunged into the world of children’s fashion and it was really eye opening for me, there was loads of cool brands around and yet the high street hadn’t quite caught up yet design wise and certainly when it comes to nightwear there was a long way to go, most of what was on the market was awful gender stereotypes, crap quality, badly fitting etc. I ended up buying plain leggings and t-shirts for my son to wear to bed because I couldn’t find what I wanted. Then I thought I could do better.
How important has the rise in social media usage helped your business?
Hugely! I would be lying if I said otherwise, social media gives us a direct link with our customers, without Instagram our business would not be where it is now. However it’s easy to rely on Instagram (or a similar platform) to run your business, and it’s easy to forget the power of advertising in other formats.
Have you always been passionate about your product being ethically produced?
Ethics and environmental policies are the cornerstone of everything we do. Even as a student I was hunting down the most environmentally friendly leather and I’ve always been passionate about ethical production. Every step we have taken as a company has been hand in hand design and ethics & environmental sensitivity, there really is no beauty in products that cause harm or no point to ugly but environmentally sound products, they must be both.
Tell me more about the ethical standards you uphold.
From the start of the design process we think about materials, using organic cotton and water based dyes is essential to us. The factory we work with is a tiny, family run factory in Portugal, we see first hand the working conditions and we ensure that all the workers are paid a fair wage.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your collections?
In the words of my ex boss, Sir Paul Smith, ‘inspiration is everywhere, and if you can’t find it, look again’. I love to work in collaboration with other illustrators and artists so often I will look at their work and will work with their style to design a theme.
Tell me about the inspiration behind the new SS19 collection?
For SS19 we looked at the natural world, leaves and feathers, we designed the monster and feathers prints in collaboration with Wonder and Rah who makes the most beautiful prints for the home. Natalie and I looked at different leaf designs and settled on the monstera due to it’s lovely polka dot design!
The ditsy floral print was originally a print for Christmas but it was so popular we bought it back and it’s flying out again. It’s a modern Liberty style print
It must be so exciting seeing your initial idea turned into a product and then have a collection containing all your hard work released to the public, what is your favourite step in the whole design to launch process?
I get butterflies in my stomach when I’m designing, when the colours are coming together, the prints are developing and new patterns are being tested, this is when I’m buzzing the most. I also love to visit the factory and to work together on new collections, checking on production. Actually getting products though production is a very long and drawn out process with so many opportunities for delays or mistakes I find that fairly stressful. When we launch new collections I usually feel really sick with anticipation, will it be well received or have I got it wrong?
Do you have a team of people who work alongside you?
Currently no. We have had various people along the years but since Brexit we have had to cut costs and sadly that means people. At the moment it’s just myself and my husband and we have accountants who take care of all of our book keeping (sanity!)
You have business premises; was this a natural step for your growing business, or was it more of a conscious move to keep home life and business separate?
It was a necessity actually as we had too much stock and not enough space at home, as we still fulfil all our orders ourselves (many small businesses outsource to a warehouse). I do love that I have that physical separation though, although saying that we have builders about to start converting our garage building into an office which we will move into, another ‘fixed cost’ saving that we have to make as a small business.
What do you do to switch off and unwind?
Gardening, yoga, reading, having dinner and a glass of wine with my husband or a meal with my family. I’m pretty strict with myself these days and weekends are not work days, they are family days. It means I’m refreshed come Monday and raring to go again!
// FEATURED //
The Bright Company – Organic and ethical sleepwear and loungewear for modern families made from super-soft fabrics, no chemical treatments, GOTS certified organic cotton.