Coco Business Inspiration : Sophie Bell-Carr

As a mother to two awesome boys, Sophie Bell-Carr was completely frustrated by the lack of imagination when it came to kids clothes after the age of 2.  It seemed to her that if it was brown, it was ok and, as a customer, she just had to settle for what was on offer.  

So, with a background in Textile Design and anything fabric she decided the only thing to do was to start making her own clothes!  Cue the launch of her brand, Huxter Kids. Here, she tells us more about her journey from mum to #girlboss…

When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I launched Huxter ‘officially’ in March 2016 but had been working on the idea of it for a year.  My husband is in the Military and we have been travelling around with his work for the last 8 years.  Our previous posting was in Germany, I had two young boys and they had amazing jersey fabric out there.  One thing led to another, I couldn’t find any ‘fun’ clothes for my boys so decided to make some for them myself.  Friends liked them and asked me to make some for their kids…. the rest is history!

Whats your background?
I have always loved Textiles and it has most definitely been part of my life for a long time.  My initial degree is in Textile Design from Leeds University.  From there I went to London and worked in and around the Design and Interiors Industry for 6 years before I left to become a ‘Military Wife’!  I was unable to get my teeth in to anything for 7 years as we moved 11 times to 3 different countries but, when we finally came back to the UK last year and decided to settle, for the sake of our children, I decided now was the time to start again.  I enrolled on an MA in Surface Pattern and Textiles (which I am currently half way through) which instantly whet my appetite for textiles and design again.

How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
Currently there are only three people involved in the business.  Myself, my wonderful husband Rob and a newly recruited seamstress.  Rob works full time but comes home every evening and helps with the back of house side of the business.  My seamstress has been my saviour and has freed up a little of my time to go in search of someone to help me in the office, update the website, order the fabrics etc etc….. so, as you can see, we are only acorns but we are growing!

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If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
Currently, no.  Mainly because we are not old enough to start again.  Ask me that question again in 5 years time, however, hopefully the answer will still be no!

What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Definitely time.  I have a six and a three year old who have been amazing but cannot just be parked in front of the television every day when they are home.  It means that I do an awful lot of work in the evenings and at the weekends when my husband can take the reins a little.  It is very hard because you are constantly aware that your children are ‘only young once’ but you also know that if you don’t pursue what appears to be a great business idea, that is working, then you will have to go back to work for someone else and won’t have the luxury of running your own business and being able to drop them off at school and collect them in the evenings (even if you do end up working until midnight every night!)

Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
I was once on Bargain Hunt and won £400 – a great life experience!!

2016 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand?
Ultimately, this year, I want to increase brand awareness.  We are so new and I just want to get as many people as I can to hear about us.  As soon as people discover us, they love what we do and they spread the word…. we just need more of that really!  The other avenue I will be going down is ultimately producing all of our own prints.  As I am half way through my MA I am well and truly on the road to designing my fabrics with the first ‘Christmas’ range being launched in the next couple of weeks!

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To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
I think my own personal highlight is producing something that people genuinely love.  People are coming back again and again to not only buy for their own children but to buy for friends and relatives. When you are married to someone in the Military you live a very transitory life and you often feel that you don’t completely contribute to life as some of your civilian friends may do.  Starting Huxter has given me back a feeling of purpose and worth and so far, that is most definitely my highlight!

Which city do you feel most at home in, London, Paris or New York?
I have been to several cities in America but never New York.  It is on the list though!  Paris is a great love of mine, I adore going there and in fact was there this summer but London will always feel like home to me.  I spent many of my childhood holidays in Chiswick as I have family there and it was where I lived for 6 years after leaving University.  I just love the fact that it is so easy to walk around and is so diverse.

Three beauty products you can’t leave the house without?
Estee Lauder Edit – Beam Team – this just makes you look awake and healthy, even if it’s the last thing you feel!!

Lip gloss – I’m not great with lipstick but I love a bit of gloss!

Lancome Doll Eyes mascara – I’m blonde, you always need mascara or you look naked!

Style means….?
….. being confident with who you are.  Smile, be happy, be kind…. style will always follow.

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Best thing about London to you?
The diversity.  Being able to walk from Soho to China Town, through to Leicester Square and down past Trafalgar Square to Westminster, strolling over the river to the South Bank and then popping on a tube up to Knightsbridge…. I just love exploring.  It makes me smile.

Statement shoe or statement bag?
Shoe, always (However, I do LOVE a good bag!!)

If you had to, what piece of clothing from your wardrobe would you wear everyday?
I have a Karen Millen cape that just looks fab with everything, dresses, skirts, jeans and trousers.  So, it would be that or a fabulous scarf, every outfit can look good with a scarf!

Favourite love song?
More Than Words, Extreme – an oldie but a goodie!

Best place for a coffee?
Currently, as I am living in Lancashire, a little Deli called ‘Salt of the Earth’ in Poulton-le-Fylde.  Awesome coffee but even better cake!

Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
Always be yourself.  My father sadly died from cancer when I was 10 but I always remember him talking to me before he became ill and he said ‘always be yourself Sophie, then no one can ever find anything bad in you’.  I’ve always tried to stay true to myself since then.

Guilty pleasure?
Champagne! Mainly pink but I’m not particularly fussy!

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If you could spent 24 hours in anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A place called Golden Beach in Northern Cyprus.  I feel like I am betraying a trade secret but it is the most wonderful secluded place I have ever been to.  No mains electricity, just little cabins on the beach, lights are turned off at 10pm every night and it is complete tranquility and seclusion in the middle of a nature reserve. You just feel utterly relaxed when you leave.  Shhh, just don’t tell anyone else!

In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
We currently seem to be expanding quite organically.  At the moment I intend on keeping Huxter Internet based, I am not entirely sure my model will even work in mainstream shops, especially as everything is bespoke.  Boden have done pretty well staying internet and catalogue based!  However, I am most certainly not writing that direction off. I think Huxter needs to become an established brand first and foremost producing good quality, unique clothing and then, with the internet, the sky really is the limit.

Find out more…

www.huxterkids.com

FB – @huxterkids

Instagram – @huxterkids

Pinterest – @huxterkids

Twitter (my nemesis!!) – @huxterkids

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