Tuesday, 4 August 2015

B&S Meets...Little Lulu's

This July, luxury footwear brand Little Lulu's beat off seriously stiff competition to become our S/S16 Rising Star. The judges - CWB's Laura Turner, Little Style Fix's Emma Smith, Lucy Ives of Willo Baby and Childrenswear and Bubble Chop's Wing Yin Man - loved its exquisite, Italian-made baby shoes, which are modelled on 'big person' styles. We've been catching up with the brand's founder, footwear enthusiast and mumpreneur Catriona Alfaham...

Catriona, could you tell us a bit about yourself? Do you have a background in fashion and design? 

I have always loved shoes, ever since I was very young - so I went to Cordwainers' College to study footwear and accessory design. I have been working in the fashion industry for the last 11-12 years as handbag designer, while maintaining my love of shoes. 

When and why did you decide to found Little Lulu’s?

Like many other mumpreneurs, it was only after I had my daughter that the idea of starting my own business came about. I wanted a job that suited me and my new lifestyle. The plan was to hand-make baby shoes and sell them on Etsy and at craft fairs - but, as I designed them, I realised I wanted a quality that I couldn't produce myself. My idea was developing into a brand with a big statement to make, so I set to finding a supplier in Europe who could make my designs. I found a fabulous little place in Italy that has been in business for 30 years. It is owned by lovely couple, Rosa and Luigi, and they are wonderfully skilled at making these tiny creations. 

Could you tell us about the brand’s philosophy?

I think the philosophy of the brand is one of playfulness. It is nice to see things in miniature form, especially shoes. All of the shoes are designed to be mini versions of what we as parents would like to wear. They are all packaged in a clear gift box with dust bag and gift tag. They are a special gift item that can be kept for years to come. In fact, someone at Bubble suggested they could even become collectable to parents who would like to get the full set. Sounds like a great idea to me! 

Why did you decide to show at Bubble London in July?

I began developing the idea of Little Lulu's at the end of 2014, and decided to come and have a look at the A/W15 show in February, to see if it was for me.  Initially it worried me. There were so many other fabulous brands, and I wasn't sure I could compete or measure up. But, ultimately, it seamed like a great show to exhibit at. I went to Perfect Pitch and imagined myself there one day; it gave me something to aim for. I didn't think I would be able to make it to the July show, but somehow it all came together a lot quicker than I thought it would. I was a bit of a last minute addition to the line-up, but thankfully got there just in time!

How did it feel to win the Rising Star award? What does the title mean to you? 

I was thrilled and overwhelmed to win the Rising Star Award. I remembered seeing the finalists at the A/W15 show, and couldn't believe I had even been shortlisted - so to win was just a fabulous cherry on top! All of the other brands shortlisted were wonderful, so it really meant a lot. Now it is a great accolade to tell people about when trying to get the brand off the ground. 

What are your plans for the future? 

The hard work starts here now; I need to try to get the brand out there. Bubble has been a wonderful launching pad, so I just need to maintain momentum. My website will be live in August, and I am hoping there will be a good reaction to that. We are off to Milan in September to Linea Pelle to plan the A/W16 range. I am lucky enough to have a free stand at next season's Bubble, and am already thinking of how I can better this season's stand. 

What advice would you give to designers planning to launch their brand at Bubble? 

I think the best advice is to plan every detail the best you can. Don't leave anything to chance. You need to make the best of what you have and make it stand out. You don't necessarily need a big stand but you need it to be eye catching. Plus you can always win some brownie points if you have some sweets to hand out!

Catch Catriona and Little Lulu's at the A/W16 edition of Bubble London, which will take place on 31 January and 1 February, 2016...

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