Today on The Mother Hub Meets, we are chatting to Natalie Reynolds; founder of the award-winning luxury baby and childrenswear brand, Fred & Noah (based in Essex). Following a successful career as a lecturer in fashion design, Natalie began working on Fred & Noah full-time in 2015. The brand specialises in natural and organic fabrics, and their signature prints (think playful, bold and beautiful) are instantly recognisable. With a strong focus on comfort and durability, Fred & Noah has garnered a loyal following. The first baby leggings Natalie ever made were for NCT friends; now, fans of Fred & Noah include Fearne Cotton and Giovanna Fletcher! Natalie and her husband Dan have big plans for the business, and looking at what they've achieved in just three years, we have no doubt they'll go from strength to strength.
In our interview with Natalie, we found out more about her inspiring career journey and how Fred & Noah came about...
Could you tell us a little bit about what you do, and how you started your career?
I studied fashion at college and university for 5 years, not really knowing what I wanted to do. After graduating I landed a job in New York teaching fashion design, which then led to my old University offering me a job running the fashion course I used to be a student on!
I worked there for 11 years and absolutely loved it, there is no better job satisfaction than teaching a young person a skill and watching them develop that over 2/3 years and then find employment. (I even taught Mario Falcone how to sew!)
I had both my children whilst teaching; Noah first (now 7) and then Freddie (now 3). It was during my maternity leave with Freddie that I decided that I didnt want to dress him in joggers or jeans, so I made some comfy baby pants for him. Long story short, all of the mums in my antenatal group wanted a pair too and it quickly snowballed into a very small business.
I opened my Etsy shop in July 2014 and fast-forward to July 2015, I was handing in my notice at my teaching job to work on Fred & Noah full-time!
Now we have our own website, fredandnoah.com, we are a partner with notonthehighstreet.com and our clothing is stocked worldwide. My husband Dan quit his job as a builder just after me and we now work together on the business in our garden studio!
When did you know it was the right time to give up the 'day job' to pursue Fred & Noah full-time? Was it a difficult transition?
The time leading up that decision was the most stressful as I was working 9-5 teaching and then 8pm-1am making the clothes for Fred & Noah. My husband Dan was a saviour and gave me the push I needed to hand my notice in. It was exciting times and looking back not scary or nervous at all. The faith I had in the brand we had grown was enough to give me the confidence to go through with it. I have never looked back.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
Being able to work from home on a job I absolutely love with my best friend.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Separating work and life. Fred & Noah was created in our dining room, so for a long time we lived and breathed baby leggings. It was also hard to switch off. We are now lucky enough to have our own premises (at home/outside), which means at 3pm when it's time to do the school run, work is over! Or at least until the kids are in bed.
With the benefit of hindsight, is there anything you would have done differently in your career journey?
Started Fred & Noah much sooner, when Noah was a baby (he totally missed out on the cool baby clothes).
What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
What's next for Fred & Noah, where do you envisage your business in five years' time?
We are currently working on our first shoe collection and have our new line of printed sweatshirts launching in Feb. I’d love to be stocked in John Lewis or Selfridges one day too!