One of the side-benefits of building my own business has been the opportunity to meet extraordinary female entrepreneurs. From TED Women to the Red Women of the Year awards, I have been continually inspired and energised by what these women achieve. With that in mind, I decided to start the A Day in the Life strand here on LLG, to give an idea of how these women run their businesses & their lives.
Next up is Baukjen de Swaan Arons, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Baukjen, a new womenswear fashion label which launches this week from the people behind Isabella Oliver Maternity. Baukjen was previously known as Isabella Oliver 365 but, over the last 18 months, the womenswear collection has grown so much that the decision was made to give the range its own brand identity, separate from Isabella Oliver, and what better name than the founder of the company, Baukjen?
I’m Baukjen, the founder of Baukjen and Isabella Oliver, I’m the Creative Director here — setting the direction and overseeing the implementation of our collections, styling, shoots and campaigns. I love what I do but it’s not all glamour, despite what many people think. I run the business together with my husband and co-founder Geoff, and we have a team of about 60 people at our Headquarters and warehouse. Geoff and I have 3 kids and live in North West London.
Sasha has asked me to share a day in my work life, so here goes…
My alarm goes off at around 6.15 am and I go for a 30 minute fast(-ish) walk in the Heath opposite my house with my iPhone playing an upbeat playlist. At 7am the house wakes up and everything goes in to full speed with 3 kids to get ready for school. As it’s rush hour and I have 5–10 minutes to get myself ready, I’ve put the outfit out I’m wearing today last night. At 7.30 we all sit down to have breakfast together and then at 8.15 we’re off. Today I’m bringing the kids to school and get into the office at 9.30.
The first thing I do is have a sit down with my PA, Kate, who talks me through the day and makes me aware of anything I need to know. This is also the time when I have a big cup of Earl Grey tea — my favourite.
At 10am I have my first meeting of the day. We’re having a final glance at our brief for the next issue of the Style Guide — our monthly magazine for the Baukjen brand. Weeks of work have gone in to preparing the shoot, doing the shoot and editing the photos and stories, so this meeting is to do a final sign off on the brief we’ll give to the in-house art team. After this, it’s in their hands to work their magic and I see it back for proofing two weeks later.
At 11am I have my weekly design meeting with the head designer. We have separate meetings for fittings and inspiration so this meeting is more of a general catch up. We talk through timelines, new designs we’re developing, fabrics we’re loving, colours we want to make sure we carry etc.
At 12pm I have a styling meeting where we’re finalising the styling of our looks for an upcoming video shoot. The Baukjen brand is not just about clothing but also about how to put your looks together — so styling is an essential part of what we do. We’re continuously thinking about how to put looks together that have the ‘undone-done’ look, are easy to wear and feel great on.
Lunch is at 1pm and is behind the desk today, though some days I’ll be meeting an editor or an agency. I like this hour as the office tends to be quieter and I can catch up on some emails — managing the incoming emails is always challenging as there are always so many. I also use the lunch hour to do the weekly food shop for the family and buy some presents for some parties the kids are going to next weekend.
At 2pm a group of us head in to a Focus group presentation. We recently held focus groups for the new Isabella Oliver collection and we’re keen to hear what the groups thought. I always make sure I go to these presentations as the feedback is always worth its weight in gold. Luckily, there are no unpleasant surprises and we all head off happy that the collection has been warmly received.
At 3pm we have a shoot preparation meeting. We meticulously plan our shoots to make the most of the time we have. Time is money and this is especially the case with shoot days so we do our best to make them run like clockwork. We make final decisions on models, hair & make up and location. We plan a follow up meeting to talk about the shoot list and styling but that’s for another day.
At 4.30 there’s a short Senior Management Meeting with the other directors in the business. We talk about the progress of the AW12 launches, key projects in every department and the overall financial picture.
At 5.30 I have the last meeting of the day with our Campaign manager. We work with huge spreadsheets to make sure that the stories we’re talking about in our campaigns are supported across all the social media channels as well as by our emails and in our worlds (each brand has an online editorial destination which we call ‘world’). We also do a quick check on the stock levels of the products that are in next week’s campaigns as there’s no better way to annoy our customers than to talk about products that are low in stock or sold out!
It’s 6.30 and I dash home to see the kids, hear their stories of the day and put them in bed. Then it’s a quick change for me and I’m off to have dinner with friends. In the fashion industry there are lots of events in the evening but I try to not go out too many evenings. However I do make sure I see my friends and family so I know how they are and what’s going on in their lives.
Donna Ida’s Day in the Life is here
I’m back just after 11pm, pop in to the kids bedrooms and give them a kiss on their sleeping faces. Then it’s time for a quick bath and I put tomorrow’s outfit out. Then it’s time to climb in to bed and read something light and not fashion related. The iPad either falls on my face if I’ve fallen asleep or I turn the lights off after 15 minutes. Just past midnight, I’m fast asleep.