Baukjen De Swaan Arons is the fashion-loving, flame-haired entrepreneur behind the Isabella Oliver maternity brand and its non-maternity sister brand, Baukjen. We caught up with Baukjen to talk family, working life and the inspiration behind Isabella Oliver…
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I was born in Amsterdam but I’ve lived in London since I was four. I’m married to Geoff, who is also the co-founder of our business. We have three children – Oliver, Sebastian and Pippa (and our new puppy Popcorn). Together we live in North West London, thankfully close to our London HQ.
Why did you launch the Isabella Oliver collection?
When I was pregnant with my first child, Oliver, I knew very little about how to dress my new pregnancy curves. I made every mistake in the book. I kept going back to shops to buy a size up every month or two until I couldn’t find anything that would fit. Then I borrowed clothes from Geoff. Suffice to say, it wasn’t a good look. I soon learnt from friends that my experience wasn’t unique to me.
Pregnancy is a very special time and feeling comfortable and confident about your style is important. That’s why we launched Isabella Oliver. I wanted pregnant women around the world to have a pregnancy style best friend – a brand that you can rely on for a couple of things:
1) To design maternity clothes that flatter the pregnancy curves, that will fit throughout (there’s no sizing up here at Isabella Oliver) and that will stay in great shape no matter how often you wear them
2) To share everything we know and have learnt along the way on how to dress stylishly, and just as importantly, comfortably during pregnancy. To be a friend so to speak that pregnant women can trust and rely upon.
There are so many things going on in a woman’s life when she is pregnant that I wanted Isabella Oliver to take these worries away. Just because she’s pregnant doesn’t mean her wanting to look stylish has suddenly disappeared. If anything, it becomes more important while she gets to grips with dressing her new curves.
How would you describe the design ethos of Isabella Oliver?
Our starting point is the woman and her pregnancy curves and how they will evolve during this time. We have developed clever design techniques such as wrapping, ruching and draping that allow for our maternity styles to fit and flatter throughout her pregnancy, and in many cases beyond. Any style that doesn’t meet these criteria doesn’t pass the final edit.
Another key focus is comfort. We use details such as soft waistbands, inside shelf bras etc to make each maternity style comfortable to wear. We only use premium pregnancy friendly fabrics that feel soft on the skin and have added stretch for ease. We are firm believers that style and comfort go hand in hand.
A pregnant woman often wears her maternity clothes far more intensively than other items in her wardrobe. It is part of our ethos that the Isabella Oliver items she owns don’t let her down during her pregnancy and that they maintain their shape and colour wash after wash. So quality is queen here at Isabella Oliver.
Tell us about the team behind the collections
We design our maternity collections in-house and this means that we work really closely together and are constantly bouncing ideas off each other. It’s not just the designers here, we also have an in-house sample room where the patterns are cut, samples are made and tried on for fit. It means we’re really close to the product to get the fit and quality just how we want it. Our customer services team sits close by too and are constantly feeding comments back from the customers. So we have a full 360 view on what pregnant women are loving.
Every season we launch a new collection. We’re always excited about new fabrics, shapes and colours or when we’ve come up with a clever new maternity design technique or detail. Being under one roof together means we talk all the time. Plus we’re all foodies which is another shared love.
About the Baukjen brand
Baukjen is a womenswear brand with a single-minded vision: to create clothes that that inspire and empower the busy modern woman. Today, tomorrow, forever. Underpinning the brand is detail-driven design, a focus on effortless outfitting, feminine fits and luxury fabrics. You can visit the Baukjen website here to shop the new collection…