Minis takeover | Zoobug founder Dr. Julie Diem Le

Although Winter is associated with grey skies and dark afternoons, when the sun does shine it is truly beautiful and bright. Also, as some of us are going away to escape the Winter chill, we thought we would ask the incredibly busy founder of Zoobug (a specialist in children’s eyewear), Dr. Julie Diem Le if she would take time out of her hectic schedule to answer our questions, not only about the importance of sun protection for kids’ eyes but also about kids’ eye health in general. In fact, it was from being introduced to Zoobug which prompted us to have our little ones eyes checked which we will write about soon.

Zoobug Winter sun kids sunglasses - minis AND MORE...

1. What made you want to specialise in kids’ eyewear and set up Zoobug?

I was looking for sunglasses for my 1 year old niece at the time. It was in 2006, and I couldn’t find any labels that specialised in frames exclusively for children. It was frustrating – there was so little available. That was the start of Zoobug and our first sunglass collection launch came soon after.

2. What are some basic signs parents/carers can look out for when it comes to checking their children’s eye health?

We always advise regular eye checks. There are some signs such as children rubbing their eyes, but really the best thing to do is to have regular tests because some eye conditions can only be identified by a specialist during this examination.

3. At what age should parents/carers consider booking in their child’s first eye test?

Some parents think you can only have a test when your child can read but that’s not true, you should start to take your children to an optician from a young age as pre-schoolers. In the UK the tests are free for children. Don’t wait for your kid’s school to suggest a test – see the visit to the optician as part of your child’s health programme just like visits to the dentist.

4. What do you recommend that parents/carers check for when looking at frames for their children?

Frames are now available in all shapes and sizes – glasses and sunglasses. Quality is the key. With specs, we have focused on creating designs that are made to fit children specifically with features that help secure the frame. The kids’ frames you can find now are fun and colourful, but as a parent I would always go back to checking fit and comfort as these are the features that will make wearing the frames more pleasurable. Some large designs may look cool but the frames have to have the right proportions on the face to ensure good vision. If they are too large, this will not be the case and they will also slide off the face.

One of our innovations – a special bridge that supports the frame on the tiniest faces – is one of the features of our Winning Polarised Sunglasses in the Junior Design Awards 2015, which were awarded Best Travel Product for Children. We have worked with kids closely to develop features that perform specifically for the kids and their daily needs when sitting, playing, studying in school etc.

Winter sun Zoobug Dr. Julie Diem Le

CHIC by Zoobug available in two sizes for 0-3 years and 4-9 years

Winter sun Zoobug Dr. Julie Diem Le

ROUND by Zoobug available in two sizes also for 0-3 years and 4-9 years

5. What is the importance of checking the type of lenses in sunglasses?

Always go for the best lenses. We use adult quality polarised lenses that protect and offer visual clarity (i.e. no blurring). I always recommend shatterproof lenses with 100% UV protection – and polarised because they give maximum optical clarity and cut through glare.

Winter sun Zoobug Dr. Julie Diem Le

Harry feels comfortable wearing his Zoobug sunglasses which are available in a variety of designs

Winter sun Zoobug Dr. Julie Diem Le

6. You work with eye charity Orbis donating eyewear to disadvantaged children across the globe – was this always part of the Zoobug ideology or has it grown over the years?

This is a new programme, in which we are donating frames for children abroad. Our latest donation has arrived in Zambia. Orbis UK has launched a government backed appeal for children there.

7. You are a trained eye surgeon. What are the main problems you have had to treat children for?

I saw a lot of conditions from the more common such as squint, red and watery eye to the rarer forms of congenital blindness present from birth.

We thank Dr. Julie Diem Le for answering our questions and for providing us with a look at Zoobug’s new range of children’s sunglasses. Whether off-piste on a skiing holiday, frolicking on the beach or simply going for a walk on a crisp, sunny Winter’s day, it is important to remember your little one’s eye health so damage is not caused by the harmful sun’s rays.

minis Takeover Q&A | Popupshop’s Founder Luca Romagnoli

Popupshop Luca Romagnoli
We were lucky enough to be able to ask the founder and owner of Popupshop, Luca Romagnoli some questions behind the brand which blends fun fashion with kiddie cool. Even though Popupshop may be most well known for its wildlife themes and prints, it may be surprising to see some of the responses Luca gave below as to how the brand began.
1. Do you remember where you were when you had the moment of clarity that, yes, you were going to start Popupshop?

Yes, I was in a studio in Copenhagen. We had for some time talked about starting a project focusing on a black and grey collection of knitted styles, and a friend called with the idea to the name.

2. Who / what has been a major influence in the design of the pieces?
It was Karl Lagerfeld. It might be hard to see in the collections we are doing now, but the refined simplicity of his collections what was we wanted in a collection of knitted organic fabrics.
3. The digital prints are such a recognisable feature of your collections, how did this develop or was it always something you knew would be incorporated?
The prints where meant as a counterweight to the more plain and basic look of the earlier collections. The idea was 80 % basic black and grey styles, and 20 % prints and more vivid styles mainly for press purposes. But as demand grew for that type of styles so did the styles in the collection.
4. The environmental ideology you have to producing Popupshop’s items – was this a must from the start or did it develop?
It was a must from the start that everything from production to the finished product should be transparent to the end user, and in that process it was natural to use fabrics and production methods that made the transparency more appealing.
5. What would you say Popupshop’s main mission statement is?
I am not sure there is a clear mission statement. But we hope that people get an “aha” feeling when buying and using our products and that they return as customers after they realise what good quality our fabrics have.
6. What has been your all time favourite print?
It was a camouprint we once did for outerware. It did not sell really well but it is still very cool.
7. Any hints as to what is in the pipeline for SS16?
For ss16 we have of course still our motives inspired by nature and wildlife but we have also introduced more solid coloured pieces in new really nice fabrics to give a good balance in the collection. We also have introduced more simple and more graphically grounded prints.
8. Finally, how would your children describe you? 
I absolutely adore my kids. I really need them to answer that question :)
We thank Luca for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and if that wasn’t enough he has even been able to share some sneak peaks at what Popupshop has in store for us in Spring / Summer 2016 – don’t say we don’t treat you! Enjoy…
Popupshop SS16
Popupshop Luca Romagnoli
Popupshop Luca Romagnoli
Popupshop Luca Romagnoli
Popupshop Luca Romagnoli
Popupshop Luca Romagnoli

Little Green Radicals | minis takeover

LGR Designer - Josie

JOSIE BRAGG, DESIGNER AT LITTLE GREEN RADICALS – an organic children’s clothing brand, which began life in 2005 and quickly became part of a select group of brands to be the first in the UK to receive FAIRTRADE certification for cotton. Known for their bold prints, whimsical designs and great quality, Josie tells us a little more about her design background and the brand.

Meet Josie…

How long have you been with the team at Little Green Radicals?

I have worked at LGR for just under 5 years.

Can you tell us a little about your background in design and fashion?

I initially trained in graphic design, learning about print graphics, web design and typography. I then moved into developing fabric prints and finally went into the colourful world of children’s fashion.

Who were your design and fashion inspirations growing up, and have they changed at all as your career has developed?

I have always been interested in clean, contemporary designs and imagery which becomes even more important when working with children’s clothes. There are so many over complicated designs for children on the market which seem to focus on gender stereotypes and I have always been keen to do something different.

Why work in children’s fashion?

Creating children’s clothing is incredibly rewarding because you can really tell a story with each piece. Colour is particularity important for kids and one of the best parts of my job is when we start developing the colour palette for the new season. A particular quirk of children’s fashion is also the speed at which kids grow, so its a great challenge to find new ways each season to make the clothing last as long as possible.

Can you tell us a little about the process behind choosing the designs for each season and where your influences come from? 

Inspiration comes from everywhere but we always try and take a lot from nature because its such a rich resource. In terms of choosing designs we tend to make sure that each piece is in keeping with the ideals that Little Green Radicals holds dear, they must be hardwearing, long lasting and have a sense of colour and fun.


How would you describe the Little Green Radicals SS15 range?

Our spring summer 15 range is based on the poetry of Edward Lear who wrote amongst others The Owl and the Pussycat, so we have lots of his characters in the collection. Spring Summer 15 has a bright colour palette with lots of balloons, nostalgic aline shape dresses and beautiful organic fabrics.

Which are your favourite pieces from the current range?

This changes all the time –  but my favourite piece from our summer collection currently is our story time dungarees (pictured above) made from organic slub jersey. I love the softness of slub jersey for summer and each leg of the dungaree tells a little story.


Why would you say it is important to buy organic cotton when choosing clothing for children?

Organic cotton has so many benefits but as way of producing cotton it provides its workers with a safe and sustainable method of farming. Non organic cotton goes through many chemically intensive processes which can still be found in the cotton fibre. So particularly for little ones who are prone to eczema, organic cotton is great.

Describe a typical day at work for you? 

The great thing about producing a new collection each season is that each day is different. We are usually working on 3 collections at one time and I work closely with our producer manager Bonnie to make sure each range is running smoothly. My day is usually made up with liaising with our producers and monitoring each stage of the production process, checking any new samples and developing new ranges. This can be anything from creating our distinctive repeat prints, checking embroidery’s or organising a fit session with some Little Green Radicals fans to make sure each piece is perfect.

And lastly, what can we expect from Little Green Radicals over the course of the next few seasons? Are there any exciting projects on the horizon that you can tell us about?

We are just finishing developing our next spring summer 16 range based on The Secret Garden, so you can expect lots of woodland prints, flower appliqués and brightly coloured birds but we are also very excited to be developing a new rainwear collection using recycled polyester fabric on the outside and organic cotton on the inside which we hope to launch some time this year.


Thank you so much to Josie for giving us some insight into what it’s like to be a children’s clothing designer. The new Little Green Radicals range for next Summer sounds gorgeous, The Secret Garden is a wonderful theme. And make sure you keep your eyes peeled for the new rainwear collection later this year.

Go and check out the gorgeous range now


Rockin’ Baby – minis takeover

Rockin' Baby Mark Jeynes

Mark Jeynes with his co-founder Kathryn Wiley

In this month’s mini takeover we have asked Mark Jeynes, co-founder and Vice-President of Rockin’ Baby to give us a little insight into his life and the brand he is so passionate about. We were lucky enough to meet Mark and some of his team at Bubble London. Rocking’ Baby is a baby sling and pouch carrier company who will soon be introducing their first children’s clothing line. The company has a wonderfully charitable conscience through its Mother to Mother campaign which both Katie and I, as mothers, found heart-warming and genuine. You can read more about the work they do in our previous post, but for now, it’s over to Mark.

Tell us about yourself in 5 words.

You’re a long time dead. 

What do I mean by that? I mean I’m someone who squeezes every minute out of the day and cannot understand going to bed at 10pm. There’s a whole extra piece of life waiting to be lived until midnight and beyond. I’d like to think if I make it to my 90’s I might have had at least an extra 30yrs of living due to my inability to slow down. That level of enthusiasm and energy has done me well so far and I don’t intend to change it. 

What made you decide to become a partner in Rockin’ Baby after a successful career with such large brands (John Lewis, Jojo Maman Bebe)?

I think you reach a point in your life when you wonder what you’re doing and what it’s all about. I guess some people would call it a midlife crisis but I’m not going to be that dramatic as there was no crisis as such. I just thought at 43 I’d like to think I could be doing something that really matters and will make a difference. It’s not about gaining personal recognition but a self awareness and how you could be contributing so much more than you are rather than just adding profit to an already large successful business.

I was supposed to do a BA in French and become a French teacher. That was the plan! Me working at John Lewis was originally going to be just a ‘gap year’ but 26 years later I’m still in retail and most of that has been kidswear:  be it as a shoe fitter at Peter Jones, a Buyer at John Lewis or Head of International at JoJo. I loved working in a large company but as I started working in smaller companies I think I realised I had a voice and felt I could make a difference. You then start to think ‘I reckon I could do this myself’ and especially now after having done Design, Buying, Production and Sales, I have so much experience it seems less risky than when I had pipe dreams of running my own brand 10yrs ago. I still have the same energy levels but am so much more rounded as a person and have so many more skills. It takes age to recognise that about yourself.

But this is different. This is stepping away from the normal business model of retail and that’s why I like it because it’s still risky and exciting but ultimately is going to help hundreds of thousands of children.

rockin baby mark jeynes mini takeover

What makes Rockin’ Baby stand out from other similar products on the market?

We are truly the only company in the world doing a one for one business model in children’s wear. If we sell ten thousand units of clothing we will manufacture and donate an identical quantity of clothing to charities who will distribute them to children in desperate circumstances. If they want blankets that is what we will give. If they need more tshirts than rompers then they tell us and we give it. 

We’ve been doing it with our slings and pouches for five years and have literally saved lives in Haiti where we have donated tens of throusands of slings already. You’re looking at a country on its knees still from the earthquake in 2010 and a people who did not carry their babies. Thanks to my business partner Kathryn who visits there regularly to donate the slings but also teach them how to wear them safely, you have babies and children now being safely carried instead of crawling around in debris and worse.

We want to have the same impact with our clothing. Most people are very giving and charitable in this country and want to help but are never sure how or even if the money gets to those they wanted it to get to. The charity we are working with : ChildFund International, has been established 75yrs and is in 12 countries at any one time caring for children. They are currently working in West Africa looking after all the children who’s parents have died of Ebola.

I know personally that it feels great to be doing something – and what mother does not feel love and empathy with other mothers and children? Buying our clothing means they are really helping to put clothes on these children’s backs which is a wonderful thing.

rockin baby mark jeynes mini takeover

A Rockin’ Baby pouch carrier

rockin baby mark jeynes mini takeover

One of Rockin’ Baby’s sling carriers

What would you say to convince someone to convert to trying a sling or pouch rather than the traditional baby carriers?

I think many people might dismiss them as ‘another thing they don’t need’ but we are not trying to replace a stroller or a rucksack style carrier. Some people absolutely love wearing babies in our slings outside but even more people regard them as the perfect accessory to use indoors. Why put your baby down to sleep in a separate room when you can have them snuggled close to you whilst you go about your daily routine? Both hands free to do whatever you want whilst your loved one can hear and feel you and you them.

But our product is also unique. We are fully reversible so mum or dad can wear them. The prints are bold and unique plus they are handmade in the US which makes for superb quality. Our pouches come in three sizes and our slings have an extra length of fabric which is ideal for modesty when breast feeding but also has a deep zippered pocket which is perfect for holding extra nappies or bottles!

Rockin' Baby Mark Jeynes

Sneak peak at one of new pieces from Rockin’ Baby’s new clothing line

How would you like to see Rockin’ Baby expand?

Kidswear was the natural add on and we have so much still to do with that including more categories being added for Spring 2016 like waterproof rainwear and swimwear.

We are very much about the giving and we don’t want to add unnecessary items just for the sake of making money. Everything we do and add, we first think ‘is there a need out there for us to give one of these away’.

You have been with your partner for 21 years – how do you keep a solid relationship when having to travel so much with Rockin’ Baby?

I admit I am blessed. He is the best person to have around you. A real leveller and confidante as well as being fun and lighthearted. I think it helps that he’s always shown an interest in my career and despite being a Consultant Psychiatrist, he is a retailer at heart and loves what we are doing. Some of ‘my’ best ideas are his. Keeping each other included massively in what we are both doing is important.

We are also great travellers and enjoy exactly the same things so one upside of having no children is we are free to squeeze as much of the world in as possible when we get spare time. Having such great adventures and seeing amazing things makes you closer too I think.

rockin baby mark jeynes mini takeover

rockin baby mark jeynes mini takeover

The charity connection really seems to have hit a chord with customers. Will this continue to be the brands core belief? 

We do indeed seem to have attracted a lot of press attention and a celebrity following. But it’s normal mums and dads that we want to love us too. They’re the ones that will hopefully buy us and help us make the biggest difference.

We will always gauge our success not by how many we have sold but by how much we have given.

We thank Mark for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Visit Rockin’ Baby to find out more.

Georgie and Katie