What inspired you to start aden + anais?
aden + anais was inspired by necessity. I’m Australian, but have spent my career in New York City, where our first daughter, the Anais in aden + anais, was born. I was like any other first time mum-to-be: excitedly preparing, gathering up all the items that had been recommended to me by friends and my mum and sister. But the one thing I couldn’t find anywhere was the one thing that every Aussie mum has stacks and stacks of: a simple, cotton muslin swaddle. I ended up having some sent from home, and I used them the way my mother had used them: for everything. They were my swaddles, of course, but also my burp cloths, my nursing covers, the thing I could stash in my bag and use for a playmat or a stroller cover. I knew that if American moms had these, they would love them, just like all Australian mums loved them, and I decided to try and make it happen.
How did you take the initial concept and execute it into a major brand? How has your initial idea evolved?
I started aden + anais while working full time at The Economist. This means I would work a full day job, come home to my family, and start my second full time job when the girls were in bed. This means I survived on a few hours of sleep every night, that I sometimes (too often) totally forgot about things like showering. I’d been told by my boss that I didn’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body. I had never started a company before. But guess what? I did it. It didn’t happen overnight – I didn’t walk right into that office when I started aden + anais and yell, “I quit!” Although, yes, I fantasized about doing that. I understood that it would take time, and more importantly a lot of hard work, and I was ready to give this idea both of those things.
What started as a swaddle is now a full line of baby essentials from clothing to crib sheets and everything in between, with each item being something that fits our initial vision: bringing something to market that brings comfort and ease and style to parents and caregivers and babies.
How have your children inspired you and motivated you to create this incredible and essential baby brand?
Becoming a mother to Anais was obviously the catalyst for this creation of aden + anais, but now I’m a mother to four girls, each an entirely different person. Watching each of them become who they are is endlessly inspiring to me, and I know that when I go off to work in the morning to run a now global brand that I started from our kitchen table that I’m showing them what they’re capable of, that a woman can be an engaged mum and a successful business woman. I hope that I am inspiring my girls as much as they inspire me.
Which classes have you found most beneficial to your children in NYC?
All of our four girls have very different interests. I am a big believer in children playing sports so I very much encourage that. Anais is on a swim team, Lourdes is a talented runner who has competed on a national level, Arin and Amelie both swim and do gymnastics. So the sports classes are a big deal in our home.
Where do you shop for your girls?
Anais is twelve, and has banished me from shopping for her because obviously, I am old and have no taste at all. For the rest of the girls, who still think I am pretty cool, H&M and Zara are our go-tos for staple items. I also love to buy each of the girls something special from boutiques in different cities I visit, something that lets them know I’m thinking of them when I’m away (and that I’m still cool!).
How do you make time for yourself and manage your busy schedule of two full-time jobs? how do you enjoy your personal time?
I really do have two full-time jobs, as all working parents do. I’m CEO of aden + anais and of our household, and my husband and I run our home with military precision because we are hopelessly outnumbered and it’s the only way to stay sane. Dinner is always at the same time. Baths are always at the same time. Bedtime is always at the same time, except for when mum and dad have friends over for a party, then all bets are off.
At home, I’m lucky to have an amazing husband and nanny who let me be 100% at work when I’m at work.
At work, I’m lucky to have a talented team of people who are great at their jobs, so I can be 100% at home when I’m at home.
But personal time? I don’t do such a great job at that. We all have our weaknesses, I suppose!
What are your favorite books for children?
I loved Giles Andreae books. He’s a British author, and I’ve read them to all the girls so often over the years that I could probably still recite them without even looking. Some of our favorites are Commotion in the Ocean, Giraffes Can’t Dance and The Lion Who Wanted to Love.
Which aden + anais product did you find most useful for your children?
I was definitely stocked up on our swaddles, which was what I was looking for in the first place! Other than that, our house still has plenty of dream blankets, and washcloths and I only use our aden + anais skincare products on all the girls and for myself actually. The girls are far from being babies, but many of our products are still in use on a daily basis at our house!
Which product is your bestseller and why?
We started ten years ago with a simple cotton muslin swaddle with some great prints, available in just a few boutiques on the Upper West Side that I delivered by taxi. Since then, we’ve sold over 25 million swaddles in 65 countries around the world. It’s still a simple product, but it’s one that’s trusted by parents around the world because it’s a multipurpose, beautiful product that does so much. It’s a swaddle, yes. And a nursing cover, a stroller cover, a playmat, a burp cloth… it’s one of those things you find yourself reaching for over and over, the kind of thing you recommend to friends when they become parents. We’ve never been a company with a massive marketing budget, because we’ve had the power of word of mom marketing in our corner since that first day, and I’ll always, always be truly grateful for that.