Absolutely Mama December 19

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Mama DECEMBER 2019 • ISSUE 35

The Magazine for Stylish Mums

C H R I S T M A S I S H E R E ISSUE 35 • DECEMBER 2019 _MAMA_Dec19_Cover_CG.indd 2

The best festive food, decor, partywear and gifts for a magical time of year


Baby care the natural way

Reclaim motherhood as a positive, stress-free experience


Babyopathy matching Mummy & Me double pom-pom cashmere hats for more information visit

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contents 87 DECEMBER 2019



20 12

AGENDA What’s On

Arts and entertainment for the month ahead


New Books

December’s best new releases



Perfect presents for the whole family

26 Tot Gear

Key kit to make parenting easier

ON THE COVER: @maeve.and.me maeveandme.com

MAMAHOOD 30 Woman in Work

Katrina Parsons on launching a mama and mini fashion brand



32 Insta Mama

Anna Kubel on celebrating the festive season Scandi style

34 Wonderous Words

Absolutely Mama meets Charlotte Wood, founder of Polar Post

FASHION 42 Let’s Party

Wow-worthy party style from Seraphine

48 Kids Fashion Notes

Th e best looks and launches for little ones

50 The Wild Ones

Slow style for winter adventures from Piñata PUM

WELLNESS 60 Festive Feasting

Christmas-ready recipes from Th e Happy Vegan

HOME & INTERIORS 68 Nursery Notes

Beautiful decor and furniture for your little one’s space

70 Party Time

Blogger Chloe Uber Kid on how to throw a festive celebration

74 Eco Tidings

Karen Maurice’s tips for ditching the plastic this Christmas

RESOURCES 90 In The Post

Th e best educational subscriptions

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for one, love the festive season. And whether there’s been a bit of bargaining for good behaviour or not (all I’ll say is: Elf on the Shelf...), it’s always so much more magical with little ones. A little less magical is the impact that Christmas has on the environment. In a year where sustainability has been more than a buzzword, I think that many parents will be considering what they can do to make this yuletide a bit greener. With this in mind, I asked eco blogger Karen Maurice of N4 Mummy for her tips on having a plastic-free Christmas. Elsewhere in this issue, blogger Chloe Thurston shows us how to throw a festive party for kids; we meet Charlotte Wood, of Polar Post, who writes the most beautiful letters from Father Christmas; and our columnist, Alexandra Hunter, discusses co-parenting over the season of goodwill. And finally, our gift guide has the best presents for all of the family. Enjoy, and a very Merry Christmas to you all.

C a rly Gl e n di n n i n g E DITOR


@carlyjglendinning carly@zest-media.com

Part of the

Mid-weight Designer: REBECCA NOONAN Senior Magazine Manager: ANNA CLARKE

T h e M a g a z i n e Fo r S t y l i s h M u m s @ A B S O L U T E LY M A M A

absolutely-mama .co.uk Editor UK: CARLY GLENDINNING Features Editor: HELEN BARON Social Media Editor: JESSICA SHALTOUT Marketing Manager: LUCIE PEARCE Art Director: PAWEL KUBA Senior Designer: MIKE ROBERTS

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Managing Director: SHERIF SHALTOUT For editorial enquiries please email: carly@zest-media.com For advertising enquiries please email: anna@zest-media.com For media partnership enquiries please email: lucie@zest-media.com

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10 things we Absolutely

LOV E The products and brands getting our attention this month

Going Eco

KOW TOW New Zealand based brand Kowtow is one of our favourites in the sustainable fashion space right now. Always innovating, the new collection features exciting new fabrics and their ethical organic denim. kowtowclothing.com

GET S N U G G LY FUB For perfect mama and mini twinning this winter, look no further than Danish brand FUB. Cosy up in classic knits made from organic materials. fub.dk

COUNT D OW N P LAY IN CH OC Create a woodland scene with this advent calendar from PLAYin Choc. Each draw contains an organic, vegan and refined sugar-free chocolate, a 3D puzzle toy and fun facts card. playinchoc.com

Simple Style

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BACA BU C HE The winter collection from Bacabuche is full of beautifully made basics in tonal hues. Look out for the immeasurably cute and cuddly faux sherpa sweatshirts, oversized cardigans and ribbed beanies. bacabuche.com




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LE PE TI T G E R M A IN Inspired by years spent studying in Parisian art schools, we love the abstract prints in Le Petit Germain’s winter collection. Stylish, but also imaginative enough for little ones to enjoy. smallable.com

Beautiful Baubles

P EG GY & KAT E A great first Christmas gift, British artist Kate Cronk creates the most magical hand-painted baubles. She can inscribe a little one’s name, or even paint a miniature family portrait. notonthehighstreet.com


JAM E S ST REET Available in mama and mini sizes, Australian brand James Street’s pointy-tipped ribbed beanies have been a sell-out success. Make sure you’re quick if you want to find one in your stocking. cissywears.com

Mini Moon

Telling Stories

M AI SO N DEUX A clever twist on the traditional rocking horse, we love this rocking moon from Dutch brand Maison Deux. Perfect if you’re looking for a special gift. smallable.com

MONTH OF SU NDAYS Beautifully bound, Month of Sunday’s stylish Childhood Journals help you document your little one’s milestones from birth right up until their eighteenth birthday. A lovely idea for a first Christmas. monthofsundaysjournal.com


CA M O M IL E LO N DO N As the nights draw in, we want nothing more than to batten down the hatches and interiors brand Camomile is our go-to for creating a cosy home. Look out for bedding in beautiful prints. camomile.london

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A Unicorn Production in association with Sarah Argent

SCRUNCH Created by Sarah Argent and Kevin Lewis

HHHH WhatsOnStage (2014)

Ages 7 and over

Ages 3 – 7

A Unicorn Production

A Unicorn and New Perspectives Production


AND THE MOUSE By Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen Adapted by Jack McNamara

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Adapted by Anthony Weigh Directed by Justin Audibert

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agenda D EC E M B E R ’ S AC T I V I T I E S A N D E V E N T S p . 1 2 • O U R M O N T H LY R E A D I N G R O U N D U P p . 14


The Museum of Architecture brings its awe-inspiring Gingerbread City to Somerset House, from December 7th. Over 100 leading architects, engineers and designers created the gingerbread masterpiece. somersethouse.org.uk

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W H AT ’S O N December’s calendar is packed with festive theatre for the whole family...

Magical Musical Until 2 February Little Angel Theatre

The Pixie and the Pudding tells the story of Charlie who moves from the city to a farm - and then a curious pixie leaves a note on her windowsill. This delightful family show draws on Scandanavian folklore with the help of puppetry and original music. littleangeltheatre.com

we love

Skate OFF Until 12 January • Somerset House

London’s most beautiful ice rink returns to Somerset House this winter. There is a special Skate School for children over eight to build their confidence on the ice, whilst under eights can attend the Polar Bear Club for a fun and safe first glide. somersethouse.org.uk

Sleeping Beauty Until 16 January Royal Opera House

Tchaikovsky’s glorious music alongside Petipa’s classic choreography make this ballet a real treat for parents and children alike. Prepare to be transported to the magical realm of princesses and magic via fantastical sets and graceful performances. roh.org.uk




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GIANT ADVENTURE 4-22 December Theatre Peckham

This ambitious retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk includes a Jack who lives on an estate, a mystical rapper and, of course, some magic beans. Experience the classic fairy tale like never before with this perfect pre-Christmas family outing. theatrepeckham.co.uk


Christmas FA IR S

Things to do during the hoidays

C H R I STM A S G ROT TO Until 23 December Pavillion Road

The Chelsea Christmas Grotto will transport children to the North Pole to meet Father Christmas and his elves. It will also host London’s only baby grotto and dedicated pre-school sessions. Kids will experience classic games before entering Santa’s workshop for a meet and greet with the man himself. designmynight.com/chesleagrotto

E N C HANTE D FO R E ST Weekends until 22 December The National Arboretum

The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire has been transformed into an enchanted forest. Every weekend in the run up to Christmas, there will be a night-time trail of twinkling lights with magical characters to meet along the way. Plus, if you are lucky - you might see Father Christmas. forestryengland.uk


4-30 December Omnibus Theatre

n a quest to return to the asteroid that he calls home, The Little Prince encounters a stranded pilot and her crashed plane. Their adventure is one that will take you and your family across the galaxy, from the Sahara desert to the Moon.



FATHER CHRISTMAS Until 29 Deecember Lyric Hammersmith

theatre production of the fantastic Raymond Briggs story will be showing at Little Lyric this month. Join Father Christmas as he awakes from a dream and discovers it is the busiest day of the year: Christmas Eve.


WI NTE R WO N D E R L AN D Until January Hyde Park

Wrap up warm because the Bavarian themed Christmas fair has returned to Hyde Park for another winter. Featuring rides, market stalls and festive treats, plus an ice rink and circus shows, kids will have a ball. hydeparkwinterwonderland.com


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we love

BOOKS This month’s festive releases make perfect gifts for little readers Wo r d s A B B I E S C H O F I E L D

LET IT GO Read Me A L I C E ’ S A DV E N T U R E S I N WO N D E R L AN D & TH ROUG H TH E LOO KI N G G L AS S By Lewis Carroll Illustrated by MinaLima

This beautiful gold-embossed edition has 3D interactive elements including a growing Alice, disappearing Cheshire Cat and removable map of Wonderland. The breathtaking illustrations have been mastered by MinaLima, the design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter fi lms. £25  minalima.com



FROZEN By Disney

This intricately designed version of the Disney favourite tells the story of Ana and Elsa in book form, along with engaging illustrations. The icy blue cloth-bound cover is foil-stamped and comes with a ribbon book marker to make it extra special. One to treasure forever and have on display. £12.99 bonnierbooks.co.uk


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By Ruth Symon Illustrated by Carolina Rabei

This heartwarming story of a young girl and her father on a fishing trip is full of wonder and lyricism. Thanks to clever paper engineering, readers can make the night sky twinkle - perfect to unwrap under the tree. £12.99  templarco.co.uk





By Jeanne Willis

Based on the Hans Christian Anderson story, a little fir tree is delighted when he is taken to town for Christmas day. But what will happen the day after? Christopher Corr has brilliantly refreshed this classic tale using a simple writing style alongside distinctive and vibrant artwork. £11.99  quartoknows.com

Illustrated by Briony May Smith

Joanna Spyrie’s classic 1880 story has been wonderfully retold by Jeanne Willis alongside evocative drawings. It stars Heidi, an orphan who is sent to live in the Swiss Alps with her grumpy grandpa. However, she soon realises that he isn’t so grumpy after all... £14.99  nosycrow.com

The big


T H E C R AYO N S ’ C H R I S T M A S By Drew Daywalt

This festive installment in the bestselling Crayons series, illustrated by the immensely talented Oliver Jeffers, has real, folded letters from the Crayons that you can pull from their envelopes. It also includes games, punch-out ornaments, a poster, and even a pop-up tree. £14.99  penguinrandomhouse.com

B E DTI M E STO RY T H E W I N D I N T H E W I L LOW S By Kenneth Grahame

This hardback edition of The Wind in the Willows has rich and atmospheric illustrations by award-winning artist Grahame Baker-Smith. A wonderful way to introduce your little ones to this classic story and its themes of nature and friendship. £14.99  bonnierbooks.co.uk December 2019

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Snuggly Spots BINIBAMBA

We’re in love with the new Dalmation spot Snugglers from Binibamba. Handmade from 100% natural merino sheepskin, they fit any buggy or car seat and will keep little ones toasty all winter long.



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NUMERO 74 Star Comforter, £21 mollymeg.com

KONGES SLOJD, Konges Slojd, Baby Toothbrush, £12.50 sorenshouse.co.uk

PICCA LOULOU Cloud & Stars Mobile, £22 cottage-toys.co.uk

POLAR POST Baby’s First Christmas Letter, £20.95 polarpost.co.uk

NANAMI Feeding Pillow, £65 thekidcollective.com

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MIFFY Corduroy Miff y, £20 miff yshop.co.uk

Adorable gifts for baby's first Christmas

NOBODINOZ Moon Cushion, £18.95 scandiborn.co.uk

MORI Gruffalo Pyjama Set, £44.49 babymori.com

MUM AND DAD FACTORY Activity Arch, £124 smallable.com

LIEWOOD Number Book, £24 acornandpip.com 18



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gift g ui d e BABY a Mames lov

5 of the best


MEMINIO Memory Box, £135 meminio.com

MAIN SAUVAGE Teddy Bear Rattle, £25 smallable.com NOBODINOZ Play Mat, £53 smallable.com


THE BONNIE MOB, Hat, £32 thebonniemob.com

PEA Personalised Letter Print, £15 frompea.com


Christmas Stockings, £17.22 each fabelab.myshopify.com





1. FERM LIVING, Safari Box, £41.95; scandiborn.co.uk 2. KIDS CONCEPT, Sorting Box, £17; alexandalexa.com 3. LIEWOOD, Rattle, £19; acornandpip.com 4. PETIT COLLAGE, Multi-Language Puzzle, £24.95; cottage-toys.co.uk 5. KONGES SLOJD, ABC Frame, £42.95; scandiborn.co.uk

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MERI MERI Glitter Holly Crown, £12, Shaker Collar, £16, Jewelled Hair Bow, £10; merimeri.co.uk POLAR POST Nice Rosette, £13.95; polarpost.co.uk

POLAR POST Chocolate Coins, £3.50 polarpost.co.uk

LITTLE CLOUD, Name Hoop, from £16; little-cloud.co.uk MARKS & SPENCER, Pom Pom Jumper, £10; marksandspencer.com

PLAN TOYS, Motor Mechanic £300; cottagetoys.com

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LE TOY VAN Popcorn Machine, £29.95; letoyvan.com

Presents to light up little faces on Christmas morning

MAILEG Tent and Mouse, €35; maileg.co.uk

FABELAB Wall Calendar, £40.33; fabelab.myshopify.com

BONTON X BANWOOD, Pushbike £156; smallable.com 20



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a Mames lov

KIDS CONCEPT Doctor’s Set, £29.95; acornandpip.com

gift gui d e KIDS 5 of the best


BIGSTUFFED, Giant Whale Toy, £150; smallable.com

2 MERI MERI, Fairy Costume, £50; merimeri.co.uk

MERI MERI, Angel Toy,£45; merimeri.co.uk

PLAN TOYS Victorian Doll House, £347 smallable.com

PLAN TOYS, Banjoele, £32.95; sorenshouse.com



3 5

1. YOLKE, Cotton Pyjamas, £70; yolke.co.uk 2. THE BRIGHT COMPANY, Pyjamas, £38; thebrightcompany.uk 3. LULU & NAT, Tiger Pyjamas, £45; luluandnat.com 4. DESMOND & DEMPSEY, Pyjama Set, £70; desmondanddempsey.com 5. FAUNE, Bay Nightie, £58; faune.co.uk

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WOLF CIRCUS, Magnus Silver Ring, $135 CAD wolfcircus.com

a Mames v lo

gift gui d e MUM HOUSE DOCTOR Extra Large Star, £15.50 trouva.com

AURELIA Aromatic Repair & Brighten Hand Cream, £28 aureliaskincare.com

BELLA FREUD Love Sick Sweater, £310 net-a-porter.com

SUNDAYS X JEM + BEA Changing Clutch, £39 jemandbea.com

HOTEL MAGIQUE Art Print, £34.51 hotelmagique.com

MISSOMA Gold Signet Ring, £95 missoma.com

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MUM Covet-worthy gifts we're adding to our wishlists

EVERMORE Moon Candle, £48 evermorelondon.com

HONNA Stripe Pyjama Set, £95 honnalondon.com

POLKRA, Owl Matchbox, £10 polkra.com

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COLD PICNIC Boob Pillow, $60 coldpicnic.com

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N E W CO L L EC T I O N 2 0 1 9

For more details visit our website www.venicci.co.uk or email customerservice@venicci.co.uk

Check out our new brand INSEVIO www.insevio.com

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MICRALITE, TwoFold Stroller, £850 micralite.com

a Mames lov

gift gui d e DAD OH, JAMES CANDLES In The Woods Candle, £24 hubshop.co.uk

PALM Phone, £31 per month (no upfront cost) vodafone.co.uk

URBANISTA STOCKHOLM Ear Buds, £90 vodafone.co.uk

VEJA STUDIO V-10 Extra White Black, €125 veja-store.com

JEM + BEA Elliott Backpack, £160 jemandbea.com

GROWN ALCHEMIST Hat, £25 grownalchemist.com

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DAD Stylish picks for the man in your life

WOOD WOOD Navy Beanie, £60 hubshop.co.uk

DESMOND & DEMPSEY, Pyjama Shirt, £90 and Trousers, £85 desmondanddempsey.com

TRANSPARENT SOUND Transparent Speaker, £450 conranshop.co.uk

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DESIGN LETTERS ABC Notebook, £12 designletters.com

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e s s ent i al s


ent parroved app


Just in time for the days drawing in, Joolz has launched a new reflective range. The strollers, which come in black and grey, have reflective trims to keep you safe when you’re out and about in low light. my-joolz.co.uk


Inspired kit to make parenting easier


With elegant detailing, the Ripley three-piece nursery set will give your little one’s space a traditional feel this festive season. We love that the bed can be adjusted as your child grows – ensuring it will last for many years to come. £900; mamasandpapas.com


A comfortable spot for a first Christmas dinner, the Snax Highchair from Mamas & Papas has six height settings, three recline positions and three tray settings – so you can adjust it perfectly for your little one. It’s easy to store away too, which is handy for when you have a house full of guests. £59; mamasandpapas.com 26


Mamas & Papas

OCCARO PUSHCHAIR Reviewed by Mamas & Papas Parent Approved Panellist Katerina Finnie @katerinafinnie_pt


hopping for a pram, especially as a first time parent, can be pretty overwhelming. Nimble or sturdy? Is it practical? Will I look like I’m pushing my baby around in a spaceship? Has that one got wings?! Like, actual wings?? We live in an old city with cobbles, curbs, potholes and uneven surfaces, so the Occaro is the perfect choice. It’s light, easy to manoeuvre with one hand (because your other hand is full of coffee, obviously). It’s also arguably one of the most practical prams out there. I love the basket, it’s really big, and secure enough that you can easily fit a changing bag and your shopping without losing items on the way. It’s simple to install the carrycot or seat and the materials are washable and easy to take off – no contraptions. Is there anything that I don’t like? Not really. One of the only things I would mention is that the basket can be slightly awkward to access if you have the carrycot on, but that admittedly is much more secure, so it’s swings and roundabouts. The Ocarro is one of my favourite baby items we own. I would 100% recommend it – it’s so practical, easy to handle and is one of the best looking prams on the market. mamasandpapas.com


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i-Questâ„¢ signature Welcome to a luxurious world of soft, textured, quilted fabrics; aged cognac leatherette touches in all of the most elegant of spaces; and beautifully tailored lines. This signature i-Size multidirection safety seat with added comfort is exquisitely crafted to make memories of each moment with baby last forever.


joiebaby.com/signature Available from all good nursery retailers.

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mamahood K AT R I N A PA R S O N S O N M A M A & M I N I T W I N N I N G T H I S PA R T Y S E A S O N p . 3 0 I N STA M A M A A N N A KU B E L O N C E LE B R AT I N G S C A N D I - ST Y LE p . 3 2


We meet the mamas creating a little extra fairy dust this Christmas. Charlotte Wood, founder of Polar Post, tells what it’s like to write letters from Father Christmas. And Anna Kubel (pictured) talks to us about Scandi traditions. Enjoy!

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05/11/2019 10:38

woman in

WORK Katrina Parsons on launching new mama and mini occasion wear brand Maeve + Me

I n t e r v i e w C A R LY G L E N D I N N I N G



Q Tell us about Maeve + Me, what inspired you to launch it? A I think from a young age I always knew I wanted to start my own business. But many years and podcasts later, I still hadn’t had that light bulb moment. They say to look out for a problem to solve, but nothing ever jumped out to me that I was passionate about. It wasn’t until Maeve was 5 months old and I was looking for outfits for a wedding, that I had that moment. I had spent months doing research online and in high street stores looking for matching outfits. What I found was that the quality of the fabrics was poor, they were too tight, had terrible slogans on them and none were breastfeeding friendly. When I did finally put together an outfit for us and walked into an event, I can’t tell you how magical it felt. It had been so long



05/11/2019 11:16

mamah o o d


“I could give mums a moment in the spotlight, looking and feeling their best”

since I had felt so good in myself and not only was that moment about me, it was about us. I will always treasure that memory and have the photos to remember it. And there it was… A problem I knew I could solve, and I could give mums their moment in the spotlight, looking and feeling their best. Q How long did it take to get the business up and running? A It was October 2018 when I had the idea, and in the same month while on maternity leave, I was made redundant from my full-time job. I put my redundancy money into a business account and bought our domain name. My background isn’t in fashion so it took me around 4 months just to research and study the industry before I could even think about approaching designers or factories. Around 2 months later I found my designers and we had finished the sketches and hand painted prints. We did have some problems with our first factory so that meant the initial products we made won’t actually be released until next summer, but we finished the samples for these in July. So, 9 months from concept to a finished sample, and then around 4 months working on the website, social media and marketing to get to launch stage. It would be much shorter if I had industry experience and was working full-time, but I am happy with the speed we got to market in.

Q What made you want to focus on mama and mini style? A It’s not something I had really thought about before I had a daughter of my own. However, being pregnant for 9 months, giving birth, breastfeeding and sort of feeling out of touch with my body, I wanted to wear something that made me feel good. It was this search for something I could wear to a wedding that was breastfeeding friendly, flattering in the right places but also that I could bond in with my daughter that swayed me to the matching style. Also, because what was available was really uninspiring and even though I had never worked in fashion or design, I knew that I could disrupt the current market. Q How important is sustainability to the business? A It’s an important thing to me personally and something that I wanted to be at the core of the business. I don’t think you can start a business in 2019 and not have this as one of your foundations. When I started my research into the fashion industry it was shocking to discover that it is one of the top polluting industries in the world. But the more I looked into sustainability, the more complicated it became. What does sustainability really mean? No matter what you produce it has some impact either in fertilizers, pesticides, water consumption, printing, manufacturing, transportation, even to microfibres that shed in the wash. It’s a big cycle with many factors to think about. So sustainability to us simply means treading as lightly as possible and considering our environmental impact at each and every step, and in every decision we make. Q How did your own motherhood journey play into your decision to launch the business?

A Before I went on maternity leave and was made redundant, I was working in the casino industry managing VIP customers. But when I fell pregnant and had Maeve, I feel like the darker side of the industry started to take a toll on me. Becoming a new mum and experiencing everything that came with it, I knew I would only launch a business that would be meaningful to others and that I connected with emotionally. So when I had my light bulb moment it gave me the fire in my belly I hadn’t had for a long time and I knew there was no turning back. Motherhood has given me this superpower I never knew I had. You know when they say “if you need something done give it to a busy person”? Well if you want to launch a business get a mum to do it. Q And finally, where will you be wearing your Maeve + Me dresses this festive season? A Where won’t we be wearing them…? December is such a busy month with events and special occasions so they will be making lots of appearances. It will be the first time in 5 years that I have been back to Australia for Christmas, so a great chance for my family to see us wearing them in person. We will also be doing an early Christmas lunch with my husband’s family in St Albans. I believe in buying quality over quantity and we chose extremely high-quality fabrics that are made to be worn time and time again. maeveandme.com @maeve.and.me December 2019




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“We are having a dinner with a lot of food and then Santa (our neighbour) is coming with Christmas gifts”


Q How did you get into photography and styling and what do you love most about it? A I love to capture the small moments and everyday magic and I have always loved to take pictures. I started very early and then I studied photography, but I never planned to work with it. Today it is my full time work and I love it. I meet so many inspiring people and get the chance to see the most lovely places every day.


Absolutely Mama meets photographer and content creator Anna Kubel annakubel.com • @annakubel



Q How important is Instagram to your work and what do you like and dislike most about the platform? A Instagram is a big part of my work today so I guess it is very important to me. Instagram gives me so much and all the sweet people out there, I could not be more thankful for all the love I get every day. Some people say that Instagram makes them stressed, but I think you have to find a balance between the ‘Instalife’ and the real-life. A smart woman once told me “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” and that is so true and we all have to remind ourselves that. Q What’s it like raising a family in Sweden? A I guess Sweden is a great country for having a family, UNICEF ranked Sweden as one of the world’s best places to raise children. It is very good to have help from the system like parental leave, daycare and more. I guess when you are living here you sometimes


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mama h ood Q & A

forget how lucky we are to have all of this, for free! The fact that you get paid parental leave for at least one year, isn’t that just amazing? Also, we are very equal and many families share the time and care of the kids. Q How will you be spending the festive season this year? A We are going to celebrate Christmas Eve in our house with my parents, grandparents and brothers. We always start with a lunch and then the children go out to search for Santa, they are so excited. Afterwards we are having a dinner with a lot of food and then Santa (our neighbour) is coming with Christmas gifts. I am a big fan of Christmas and I love to start the festive preparations early in December – baking gingerbread cookies, decorating the Christmas tree and all of that – it is a lovely time of the year!

Q What are your family’s favourite Swedish Christmas traditions? A I think that Christmas time is magic. I remember Christmas when I was a child – it was the best day ever. In the morning we always woke up very early and got a small Christmas gift. I think the mornings are so cosy and I want to give my kids the same great Christmas memories as I had as a child. Christmas should be no stress and just cosiness and love and we are very good at that in my family! Q And finally, best and worst bits about motherhood? A There are SO many good things about being a mother! Small kisses, the first “I love you”, the first little smile, all the laughter and proud moments when you see your kids doing great things and the moments when you pick them up from day-care and they

run to you and give you the sweetest hug. So much love! Being a mum is also so very hard sometimes. Sleepless nights, tears that don’t stop and the feeling that you sometimes lose yourself. Staying home with kids all day is so much work and the hardest adjustment for me when I first became a parent was accepting the fact that there is never a break, you have to be on your game 24/7. There are also other not-so-fun body changes that are common in the first few weeks, swelling, breastfeeding troubles or stitches after a vaginal tear or c-section. The first weeks with a newborn you feel so sore and that was so hard for me when I had my first daughter Hollie 6 years ago, I felt so sad and sore for weeks. I think it is so important to talk about. December 2019

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Absolutely Mama meets Charlotte Wood, the founder of Polar Post, a spellbinding letter writing service from Father Christmas I n t e r v i e w C A R LY G L E N D I N N I N G 34


Q Tell us about Polar Post. What’s it all about? A Polar Post is the official letter-writing service of Father Christmas. Every year at Polar Post we send out hundreds of letters from the North Pole. Our letters are little works of art, scribed by some of the best calligraphers in the business, with addresses that come straight from a child’s imagination. Every year we create a new First Class stamp and letterhead, and we are proud to have featured the work of artists such as Helen Stephens, Molly Brett and Claire Fletcher. Principally though we are about magic. We believe that Christmas isn’t an enormous pile of presents. It isn’t even being able to eat chocolate for breakfast. It’s a feeling: it’s magic; it’s believing; it’s seeing the impossible happen before your very eyes. We strive to bring about that feeling in everything we do here. Q How did you come to set it up? A When my brother and I were little we always received a letter from Father Christmas. It was the first thing that we looked for on Christmas morning and that little pile of letters came to mean so much, especially as we got older. Presents are presents, but presents with a letter from the big man, that is magic. When my daughter Rose was born I spent much of those sleepless twilight hours focusing on how I was going to make her first Christmas special. A letter had to be the starting point. When I couldn’t find what I wanted I sat down one nap time and put together my own letter for her, complete with penguin stamp. And that was the very first Polar Post! Q Favourite letter you’ve had to write so far? A Favourite is probably not the right word but this is definitely the most important letter I’ve ever written. Two years ago a lady got in touch and told us that her best friend’s baby had been born stillborn. She knew that Christmas was going to be incredibly hard for them and asked us if we would write a special letter to this very special little boy, Dexter. It was undoubtedly the hardest letter that Father Christmas has ever had to write, but ultimately it was written less by him and more by one mother trying her best to comfort another mother. I have since got to know Dexter’s mummy, Ruth, and with her kind permission we made the letter available to other families in need of it, ensuring that all profits from Dexter’s letter go to Tommy’s Charity.



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mamah o o d INTERVIEW

“Our letters are little works of art, scribed by some of the best calligraphers in the business”

Q What’s the most requested gift from Father Christmas? A He has been asked for pretty much everything over the years, from a reallife shark to a humble satsuma. The most requested present however, remains a teddy bear and there’s something very comforting in that I find. Q Where will you be spending Christmas this year? A This year we are breaking with tradition which is hard for me, a creature of tradition...! We normally spend Christmas in Gloucestershire but we are hoping that this time next year we will be in our new home, a barn (complete with a manger of hay) that we are converting and I can imagine never wanting to be away for

Christmas. So this year we are going to Devon for a Christmas beside the sea. I just hope that Father Christmas doesn’t have any problems finding us there... Q And finally, favourite Christmas tradition? A It’s something that my mum has done ever since I can remember. She will light a candle in the window as it starts to get dark on Christmas Eve. The candle is for Mary, to let her know that she is welcome. Whether you are religious or not, that to me is the essence of Christmas; letting people know that they are not alone, shining a light in the darkness.

polarpost.co.uk December 2019




05/11/2019 11:22

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