Hi Leanne, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m co-founder of the Tobias and the Bear. I’m a mum to Toby who’s very nearly 3 and I’m a fashion editor ‘by trade’ having written for a number of magazines and websites for the last 13 years – wow, that sounds like a long time!
What’s the story behind your store?
Ruth and I returned from maternity leave within a few months of each other. We were both looking for more flexibility but hadn’t really thought how that might look. We had one of those totally clichéd water cooler conversations, chatting about the lack of decent boys wear. We wanted our kids to look like kids – not little men – and it was so difficult to find cool leggings (rather than trousers and jeans) that were boy-friendly. I’d been toying with the idea of launching a leggings line for this very reason and Ruth loved the idea. She’s a great art director, we’d worked together for years and we were friends – it made total sense to join forces and it’s been brilliant.
How did you come up with the name, Tobias & The Bear?
Seeing as the boys were our inspiration for the brand in the first place, we wanted the name to reflect this. My little boy is called Toby and Ruth’s is Arlo Bear – all very fortuitous really!
Can you share a little about your creative process?
It’s really very organic. We brainstorm print ideas, whittle them down and get started! Ruth designs most of the prints, I do a lot of research and sketching and we’ve started to collaborate with a few guest illustrators too.
What inspires your designs?
Anything we think a baby or toddler would like – that’s actually quite important to us – our boys love wearing the leggings and customers often report back with news of how much their little ones love them too.
Our first two prints – Just call me Fox and Mr Bear were something of a given seeing as Toby’s middle name is Fox and Arlo is known as Arlo Bear – pretty good starting points! Animals are great as they’re so recognisable to children. As the brand is unisex there are a few areas we wouldn’t really look at, bows for example, and we like the prints to feel quite graphic and a little cooler than the norm so all of that plays a part. We want the kids to look cute, but we don’t want the designs to be cutesy.
Where do your creations come to life?
Everything is made in the UK from the screens being cut, to the printing and then manufacturing. We use a lovely factory with a great team of seamstresses. It’s important to us to support British industry and to feel confident that everything is made to the highest standards.
Lastly, do you and Ruth have any exciting new products coming up that you can share with us?
We don’t want to let the cat out of the bag too early but we have some great new pieces being released in time for Christmas which we’re really excited about. New leggings prints, more sweatshirts and a little something for the grown ups too!
Thank you so much, Leanne for chatting to us! If you haven’t already make sure you check out the full range of kids wear and bedding at Tobias & The Bear and follow them on Facebook to keep up to date with all the latest releases.