Our “The Spotlight” series features founders and brands that inspire us. Whether it’s empowering kids, inspiring parents, or making sustainable solutions part of everyday life, we’ve spoken to people who embody the values at the heart of GRASP. Our hope is that these founder’s stories, the products they’re making, and their ambitions to make a difference in the world also inspire you.
We recently chatted to Hayley Simmons, founder of luxury bedding brand, FABLES about what it takes to make the plunge and start a new business.
FABLES is just getting started and Hayley is busy working out how to curate a range of bedding that modern parents want to see, while also developing their own range. It's such an impressive effort in such a great space (we've seen personally how much room there is for the products she's designing).
GRASP: What inspired you to start a luxury kids bedding brand?
Hayley: When both of my children transitioned out of a sleeping bag to get ready for a ‘big bed’, I found it difficult to find high quality bedding in stylish, timeless prints in UK sizes.
When shopping for grown ups, there are specialist bedding brands online who are doing a great job of promoting high quality and sustainable fabrics in design-led prints & colours. We look for quality cues such as thread-count and the country of origin of the cotton....this isn’t the case for children’s bed linen.
In fact, there are still many high street retailers selling polyester bedding, even brands we consider premium! Polyester isn’t good for sleep quality or the environment and as parents, we all want our children to sleep well for their sake and for ours!
My goal is to curate the best brands on the market and also develop our own range, produced ethically by the best manufacturers using the best possible materials.
This wasn’t a new ambition though, I’ve wanted to start an online business for almost a decade. It’s a big challenge and it’s as much about the journey and the learning along the way as it is about the destination. In addition to being frustrated by the choice on offer when it comes to bedding, I also love working with creatives, I love interior & print design and I am fascinated by business.
GRASP: What are the values that you’re hoping to bring to life with FABLES?
Hayley: Quality, sustainability & timeless design are the criteria for every product we offer. We want to offer products that feel great for our little ones but wash beautifully too. I hope that the products we sell are used and then passed on because they still look great and have stood the test of time.
GRASP: You’ve spent a lot of time working in interior design previously. What’s special about the way interior design for kids in particular has changed in recent years?
Hayley: Until very recently, I was responsible for the product range for one of the national kitchen manufacturers/retailers. It’s a very different market but there are ‘macro-trends’ that are shaping consumer habits across the board. Sustainability is much more important to consumers but also the rejection of fast-fashion and throwaway trends that lead to high consumption is on the rise. This is making us think more carefully about the materials and finishes we have in our homes.
In my previous world, this change can be seen in the return of timber finishes and less ‘glossiness’. When it comes to children’s spaces, we can see that wooden toys in muted colours, heirloom quality textiles, neutral and none gender-stereotypical colour schemes are influencing kids interior design. This also fits in with the Montessori philosophy that children’s environments should be kept simple with natural finishes. In reality though, as parents, we cannot get away from the brightly coloured plastic that takes over our homes. However, as people become more design conscious (thanks to Instagram and Pinterest!) more parents want their children’s rooms to fit with the aesthetic of the rest of the house.
GRASP: Like us at GRASP, you’re building a business while raising young children. How do you hope that what you’re building at FABLES inspires your own kids? What’s your dream for what FABLES could become?
Hayley: There are so many aspects of creating a business that I still need to learn. I’ve taken the leap with the mindset that the value is in the new skills that I learn first and foremost. I want my children to see their parents enjoying work and being fulfilled as opposed to having a job that is something they must simply endure. I hope they will grow up with the confidence to try new things and not be afraid to fail.
Shortly before starting Fables, I left my job of 12 years. This was a job I had worked incredibly hard for and enjoyed for the most part but I didn’t have the work-life balance that I needed with two small children. I hope my children find both fulfilment and balance in whatever they do.
I am very much trying to just put one foot in front of the other now but ultimately I would like Fables to become a trusted destination for premium children’s bedding.
GRASP: At the moment, you’re pretty early stage with the business and we love that you're building a curated range of brands while also working on your own designs. It's super impressive to be juggling all that. As a founder, what’s the secret to staying focused on the things that really matter each day?
Hayley: This is something I have not mastered yet! Everything I learn, I realise there is so much more to learn – from digital marketing, to website design and the product development process of textiles. I’ve broken it down into stages and accepted that I can’t master everything at once. It means you have to accept that aspects of what you put out there will not be perfect and that the fruits of your work may not come for some time. I can live with this for now – as long as the products I sell are never compromised!