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47 Cantata Drive
Mission Viejo, CA, 92692
United States

Collegiate Kids Store

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Blog Articles

(Mis) adventures in Parenthood, Little League & moving your family 5,500 miles from London to California.

Filtering by Category: Brand

INTRODUCING: The Letterman Co

Laura Bonnell

You've probably noticed a few changes going on with our brand across social media. Recently we took the bold (& slightly crazy) decision to re-brand our little business from 'Muklet' to 'The Letterman Co'. And we decided to did it right before our busiest time of year - the Holiday season!

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Trying not to over egg the (Californian) omelette

Laura Bonnell

I've become rather aware I may be sounding like a bit of a stuck record, banging on about our imminent move from London to California. I mean, it's kinda hard not to talk about it, given that it has practically taken over my daily existence for the past few months!

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The Full Muklet

Laura Bonnell

I was having a conversation with my husband when I declared "Oh my goodness, we're doing this! We're moving to the States without jobs!!", to which he replied "No we're not. You have a job, you have your own business. You have Muklet". It was probably the nicest thing he's ever said to me (apart from maybe, saying yes to marrying me!!). So, it was decided. I wouldn't look for a job. I would fully focus on the business. I would go 'FULL MUKLET'!

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UK to USA - here we go!

Laura Bonnell

It's suddenly here... the move date is looming. I finally have my interview scheduled at the US embassy in London to get my Green card. I'm kinda one of those people that doesn't let myself get too excited or concerned about a major life event until I know it's actually happening for sure. Well, fingers crossed it's happening, and it's happening soon!... I've been putting off this day, but planning it for some time. It's time to relocate Muklet HQ... 

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I LIKE YOUR MANIFESTO, LET'S PUT IT TO THE TESTO

Laura Bonnell

If I get the opportunity to talk to people more after my declaration of Mom-dapendence I like to tell them more about my 'WHY' and my 'HOW'. My motivation for taking the leap into running my own business runs deeper than just wanting to do something for myself, and spend more time with the boys (both the smalls and big one!).

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Project USA - this is not a drill, I repeat this is not a drill

Laura Bonnell

I've been keeping a bit quiet about this until I knew it was really happening. Well, I say keeping quiet, I'm rubbish at keeping my own secrets. I've been unsubtly adding British, American and airplane emoticons to my IG messages & tweets recently. Particularly to anyone I connect with on the 'other side of the pond'.  

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Getting my Craft On! Re-connecting with my Creativity (Guest blog for Etsy London Local Team)

Laura Bonnell

When you tell people you work as a fashion designer, they often seem to assume that you spend your days sitting in a glamorous art studio, sketching and flipping through fabric swatches. Oh, if only that were the case! I remember some very disgruntled placement students at one brand I worked for. It didn’t take them long to realise that most of their day would be spent entering garment specifications onto a computer and attaching CADed drawings to boards, a process they had to repeat each time a meeting was held and the specifications inevitably changed!

In my experience as a womenswear and childrenswear designer for the past 16 years, only 5 to 10% of your time is spent doing things that could genuinely be called 'creative'. The industry moves so fast that there is rarely time to think, be inspired or evolve your work ­– you just have to get it down on paper and sent to a factory to be made as quickly as possible.

So when, earlier this year, I decided to step away from the corporate world and have a go at launching my own kids’ brand, I had a few objectives in mind. The first was to build a business that would allow me to work flexible hours to fit around family life. That feels a long way off at the moment as I grasp every second of naptime and burn the midnight oil trying to get my business off the ground. But the goal is there and it’s what I'm working towards. Another aim was to re-connect with my creative roots. For as long as I can remember, I have been making and creating things. I got my first sewing machine when I was 14 years old and used it to make toys and clothes. It was then that I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was all growned-dup!

Once I'd nailed the concept for the Muklet brand, I set about designing the range. As it evolved I realised I could pull together all the things I loved about clothing, accessories and even vintage. I was able to tap into the wealth of experience I've gained in the fashion industry. And I could choose who I work with. I’m passionate about supporting British suppliers and manufacturers so when it came to selecting the fabric for my cushions it had to be British Melton wool from Moons.

Sewing a Varsity Cushion made of 100% Lambswool British Melton

Sewing a Varsity Cushion made of 100% Lambswool British Melton

Before I could start to build the collection, I had dust off my sewing machine, which had last made an appearance the previous Christmas when I decided to make homemade decorations for all 22 members of my family! I quickly re-discovered the joy of taking an idea from the initial concept to the finished piece, of being involved in the entire process and of feeling proud that I had created something someone else would enjoy.

I’ve also been on a mission to source retro American vintage pieces to complement the clothes and accessories in the range. I had the best day at Ardingly Vintage Fair some weeks ago. I went in with a budget and an aesthetic in mind but found inspiration in some unexpected treasures and then had fun planning out how I would use or upcycle them.

I was recently sent this picture from a happy customer showing me how she'd displayed my Upcycled Vintage picture

I was recently sent this picture from a happy customer showing me how she'd displayed my Upcycled Vintage picture

I confess I was a little hesitant about joining Etsy at first. There are some amazingly talented artisans in the London Local team making their beautiful wares from scratch and I wasn’t sure that I had the same credentials. But I’ve come to realise that there are many different levels of makers and designer makers. What connects us is our love of creation, whether it’s a hand-thrown pot, or in my case, a customised Varsity baseball jacket.

Starting this adventure has spurned my creativity in other ways too. I was asked for a giveaway present to be handed to the first 50 people through the doors of a Christmas fair I’m attending. So I made these:

Christmas decorations for Xmas fair giveaway

Christmas decorations for Xmas fair giveaway

I’ve also had to think creatively about how I display my wares at markets:

The Lil Red Wagon comes with me to all the Fairs!

The Lil Red Wagon comes with me to all the Fairs!

Create interesting ways to promote myself on social media:

Promoting the Varsity Baseball Jacket on Instagram

Promoting the Varsity Baseball Jacket on Instagram

Deciding how to style and photograph my products:

Varsity T-Shirts worn by bona-fide Americans, on a real 'stoop'!

Varsity T-Shirts worn by bona-fide Americans, on a real 'stoop'!

And it goes on and on! Although I’m as yet to make it to an Etsy meet-up (the joy of being a busy mom with a husband home too late for me to escape on time!) I have managed to meet quite a few of the Etsy clan at various markets and other small business gatherings. I love it when after months of chats on social media you finally get to meet someone face to face – and it's always such a friendly face!

I think the best thing about re-connecting with my creative self is that my kids get to see me being truly happy and creative. They love sitting in my office pod watching me work (ok, most of the time they cause complete chaos, but at least they’re having fun!). And it inspires them to want to make what Mommy is making. Who knows, you may even see a 'mini Muklet' shop opening on Etsy sometime soon ... watch this space!

Keeping on Brand and resisting the pink

Laura Bonnell

If I had £1 for every time someone suggested I should make some products in pink I would have broken even by now! My response is that the muklet brand is authentic Americana, which doesn’t generally involve pink in the palette!

I spoke to a lovely brand management consultant recently at a networking meeting. She was admiring my wire basket of muklet wares I'd taken along, and said she'd spotted it from across the room. She said she had instantly understood what my brand was about. This comment had made me a very happy camper that night, and I responded by telling her that I hoped that was one of my USP’s as a Mompreneur. Having designed for well known Fashion brands I was accustomed to honing products that fitted with the companies’ DNA.

In interviews I always talk about how I think I ‘found’ myself as a designer when I worked at Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren was the first ‘brand’ I’d designed for having previously spent the first couple of years since graduating working for retailers where the collections I'd worked on followed trends and consumer spending habits. If you are going to learn the art of working for a brand, Ralph Lauren is THE place to do it. You may not realise, but many talented well known names have ‘graduated’ from the hallowed wood panelled walls of RL HQ; Vera Wang, John Varvatos, Tory Burch, Thom Browne and of course more recently Muklet!

I was very privileged in my time there to work with some very talented people and was mentored by some patient and encouraging work peers. It was only really after I left and moved back to England that I realised the years spent observing the Creative Director editing piles of hundreds of tweed swatches, agonising over the metal finish and level of polish on a button with the trim Director, and fine tuning the shape of a flower in a delicate French Chantilly lace with the development team had forever trained my eye to expect excellence and be able to curate fabrics, trims, colours and shapes appropriate for a brand.

 

Yep, that's me with pink nose and red eyes!!

Yep, that's me with pink nose and red eyes!!

Of course I was spoilt as a Designer whilst I worked there as I had access to the very best materials, trims and resources. But it's a discipline I have carried with me to use wherever I have worked no matter the size of the company or the level of the market.

So I am also able to use this skill as I grow the muklet brand. Whilst it's of course important to listen to your customer, it is equally important to stay true to the DNA of the brand, so your audience is clear what you stand for. I believe the true sign of a good brand is being able to pick up a product, and without looking at the label you would be able to tell where it is from.

In this present day of launching a brand, the DNA runs deeper that just the product, it carries through everything, your photography, how your brand  personality is expressed through your marketing, your packaging,  all your social media channels. I sometimes wonder how different it would be for Mr Lauren to launch in 2015?! Would he be Instagramming selfies with Kanye on the ‘FROW’, tweeting topical fashion tit bits #sartorial #anglophile instead of walking the New York streets with his case of ties?! Probably not, but it's fun to speculate!

So, back to the ‘Pink’ issue. I personally also have a hard time with Pink. Regular readers will know I have 2 boys. We haven't ruled out perhaps maybe just having one more at some point (although running your own business doesn't leave much time or energy right now!) But, just in case, and kinda just for fun I have a Pinterest board entitled ‘if I had a girl’! It doesn't feature a lot of pink, and I know I know actually having a girl it is virtually impossible not have have some element of that rosy hue in their wardrobe. On the flip side I have an overbearing % of blue in the boys wardrobe, so am a bit of a blue pot calling the kettle pink! So, yes I do want to cater to girls, but I don’t think it totally fits with the brand as it is right now.

That said I swallowed my pink pride for a promotion we ran recently with some of my Curated by Crafted peers (link).

The promotion we recently ran with Quick Brown Fox, Harper Blue, Kikka & Tikka Magic Door Store and Cece & Me

The promotion we recently ran with Quick Brown Fox, Harper Blue, Kikka & Tikka Magic Door Store and Cece & Me

It was also for a good cause, supporting Breast Cancer Care (link). £1 for every product featured in the promo sold during that time would be donated to Breast Cancer Care. Now that's a Pink something I could willingly get behind

But, that's all the Pink you’re getting.. For now!  I will endeavour to continue to appeal to our female muklet pals… There's even gonna be some ‘Princess’ type wares… But in a Vintage cool muklet kid style.. So watch this space!