Grass & Air meets....Bob The Brand
Bob The Brand
For many mums out there, maternity leave provides a unique opportunity to take a step back from working life and reflect on their next move. Having a family might mean taking time out beyond statutory leave. But more and more we’re seeing families embrace new opportunities that are driven by lifestyle or a desire to do something different. Follow a dream maybe? For sisters-in-law Chloe and Sarah, a combination of all of these things led them to starting their own childrenswear brand BOB just 3 months ago. We caught up with them in Manchester’s hip Northern Quarter to find out what makes a brand like BOB tick.
Sarah, a childrenswear designer for 10 years, had traveled the world with her career and worked for a large UK retailer before going on maternity leave. “Having always wanted to start my own brand, and not wanting to make life easy for myself we launched BOB when my daughter Iris was a couple of months old!
Chloe’s background in sales and marketing for the likes of Sailor Jerry and Hendrick’s Gin had always provided a fun career path but wasn’t conducive to family life after having 2 boys within the space of a year. “I took around 4 years out to stay at home with them. Sarah and I had had the idea for BOB floating around for a year or so and when she took maternity leave that we knew the time was right!” If Chloe and Sarah seem at ease together in our shoot pictures, that’s down to their deep family bond. “We are a family business in the truest sense of the words says Sarah. “As sister-in-laws, we not only spend a lot of time together for work, but also outside of it. I suppose we do chat about BOB when we’re not at work, but our husband’s haven’t complained. YET!
Starting an online business in such a highly competitive market is something that the BOB ladies have made look easy. “We both have very different skill-sets which we’ve found works brilliantly. Sarah does all the designs, and has an amazing eye for detail, whilst I focus on the business side & numbers of BOB. We then come together to make the products.” A firm grasp on branding and social media buzz has seen them make great headway in the insta-mum community. Attracting support from some of the channel’s superstars along the way as Chloe explains; “I’d say that being featured in Susie Verrill’s ‘Small Shop Sunday’ really boosted awareness for the brand within the mum-world of Instagram. That and an email which we received recently from Vogue, but that’s a little hush-hush at the mo!”
Like Grass & Air, embracing BOB’s Manchester heritage is a really important part of their business story. “We live, work and play here, and love our city, so any opportunity we get, we shout about it says Sarah who is pictured against the latest piece of wall art in the Northern Quarter – an homage to the late great Tony Wilson. “There’s such a deep history of fashion design, creativity and independence laced within the City, and we’re very proud of that.” But if the city provides inspiration for their business, it’s the beach that truly brings family life together. “Both of our families have places in Abersoch on the Llyn Peninsular, (it really is a good job we all get on so well!) and we have spent our holidays down there from childhood”, explains Chloe. “We love to get away there as much as possible, in fact I’m counting down to a huge summer holiday stint with the kids in a few weeks’ time. It brings a perfect balance to our lives, we can go from having meetings in Manchester in the morning, to strolling on LLanbedrog Beach in the evening. It’s an idyllic setting with a fab beach bar for the end of the day!
When it comes to blending their lives, we wanted to know what essentials they keep in their holiday kitbag. “Definitely scooters, bikes, wetsuits, flip-flops & of course Grass & Air Wellies for those wet Welsh days!" Back at home, the youngest member of the BOB family can be found exploring Manchester’s finest parks. At just 10 months old, little Iris seemed very at home in her first pair of tiny wellies during our shoot.
“We love Longford Park,” says Sarah. “It’s right on the doorstep, has a Pet’s Corner and an amazing café, so after a sleepless night with Iris it’s the perfect place to hang out!” Meanwhile Chloe and her boys are equally likely to be found mooching around the city on one of their regular trips into town. “I’m a HUGE fan of trips into town with the boys aged 5 and 6. They love to scoot around and explore. A lot of people are put off by the idea of a day in the city but I would urge anyone to try it. The kids don’t moan about walking, it’s ideal! We love MOSI, and generally start there as they open early. We then head to Spinningfields for a coffee, my 6 year-old loves going up to 20Stories and looking out over the North West. If we’re having brunch it’s nearly always a stop at Chicchetti, they do the best breakfasts and are delighted to have kids buzzing around!
On a wet-weather day we’ll catch a film at The Great Northern, but if the sun’s out we tend to head up to the Northern Quarter for a mooch around. There’s always so much to see, and we always stumble across an exhibition, cool piece of wall art or new shop! Ezra & Gil do the most perfect coffee, and for lunch or dinner we always get talked into Yard & Coop. It’s a great place for kids as they have boxes of Lego for them to play with & a fantastic kids’ menu, winner-winner chicken dinner!!” We loved our morning with Chloe, Sarah and Iris. Their energy and sisterly rapport is infectious and it’s inspiring to see Manchester’s homegrown fashion scene flourishing with ladies like this at the helm. Exciting times for BOB lie ahead. Just remember you heard it here first.