Today we have Claire Arkwright – Owner of Alfie et al, on trend clothes and accessories outlet for children and adults.
Tell us about what you do- your mothering situation and your work outside of that.
Well I’m what you may term as an ‘older mum’ – soon to be hitting the big 40 (yikes!!) and I’m a very proud mum of one. Alfarinn is the light of my life. It was a very hard fought journey to conceive Alfie, with my husband and me travelling to Norway to receive IVF treatment and I decided I didn’t want to miss out on a second of his development. I’m fortunate in that I’ve managed to set up my business at home so I can be there with him during the day. I’m also incredibly lucky to have a great support network around me.
What kind of work did you do before having children?
Before Alfie came along I worked as a Special Needs teacher in a couple of special schools in the area. I loved my work, I loved the students, the parents (mostly) and the time spent with the students was good fun. How did you get into your current work? Alfie et al was borne out of the endless nights sitting breastfeeding and surfing the web looking at childrens clothes and finding everything very ‘samey’. I wanted something different for him, something unusual and individual like he is. I enjoy being creative and designing the different slogans, it’s very cathartic for me – especially when you’ve had to watch back to back ‘justins house’ or ‘teletubbies’ for an hour!
What drives you?
Wanting to be there for Alfie is my driving force. I could go back to the classroom but I’d rather not. Teaching is such a consuming profession and unfortunately it is so much more than what goes on in the classroom. Realistically it’s a 10 hour day everyday plus weekends which is not conducive to bringing up a small child (IMO). I would miss all the little things that happen every day. Alfie is only 16 months old and he’s growing up so fast – I couldn’t bear to miss any of it.
What is your biggest challenge in making it all work?
Childrens clothing is such big business at the moment, and there are so many little instagram shops and small outlets like mine – I don’t want to disappear into the ether as the market becomes saturated. I hope I can stand out and make this a viable business so that I don’t have to go out to work. It’s all about finding that one perfect design or one great product that everyone will want.
What are you most proud of?
I’m proud of the support I’m getting from my husband and my family – It’s really hard going out on your own. It’s such a scary thing taking that plunge but I’m so glad I’ve done it.
Where will your work take you in the future? What are your plans?
Well obviously world domination!!! Haha, joking. I’d love to be successful enough so that the business could be the wage earner for our family. My husband works in retail and it’d be great if the shop took off so that he could leave his current post and come and *work for me!! (*with – Freudian slip!)
What would you say to yourself as a brand new mum?
Don’t try to be a hero. I had a pretty torrid time to start with, problems with feeding and Alfie was in hospital at 10 weeks with sepsis. I was pretty neurotic then and tried to keep a brave face on everything. It only got easier when I stopped trying to be this perfect mum, and started finding my own way. Now I’m pretty chilled as a mum and Alfie is a pretty chilled out little dude too.
Self care- what do you do to fill your cup?
When I get the chance, I switch off and watch fabulous trashy American tele. I’m actually campaigning one of the tv channels to re-run Sunset Beach!! Generally Alfie is with me 24/7 so we go to lots of different clubs where I’ve met some fantastic mums and made some great friends. There’s a lot to be said for mum-friends, since Alfie has come along they are my staunchest allies!
You can find Claire and all her gorgeous stuff here:
www.alfieetal.co.uk www.facebook.com/alfieetal www.twitter.com/alfieetal www.instagram.com/alfieetal
She also has a facebook members group where she holds little comps, raffles and give sneak peeks of products etc before they go live on the shop. Search for ‘Alfie et al members group.
Do It Like A Mother supports women via hypnobirthing, postnatal support, babywearing, and mama merch that does good work. Our core values are HONESTY, EMPOWERMENT, COMMUNITY. Our courses take place in Southend and Upminster, and are soon to be launching in mid-Essex. Our merch makes its way all over the UK.
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