Fabio Salvador is the founder and CEO of Makers Department, a wonderfully creative industrial design studio based in Hackney, East London. Fabio and his team have played a big part in bringing our GRASP innovations to life. He and his partner have one daughter and live in North East London.
GRASP: What's your favourite part about being a Dad? What's been the most pleasant surprise?
Fabio: The best part is the simplicity of the relationship. It’s so simple. There’s no complexity and it’s so great to spend time with my daughter focusing on simple things.
GRASP: You're not native to the UK, both you and your partner have family overseas. How do you juggle life without extended family close by to support you?
Fabio: I think from the beginning both me and my partner wanted to be very present. So we never considered hiring or paying some service for some time. My partner decided to take the whole year off from work and that came from the luck of having a good employer. And I had the luck of being self employed so I could juggle my schedule with greater flexibility.
So we defined a semi-rigid schedule that helped us understand well when each of us would have spare time to do things like work. My partner was (and is still) doing a Masters degree so that helps quite a bit in defining a schedule and finding blocks of time for different things.
GRASP: You're managing your own business, your partner is a high-flying software engineer. What are the best parts and the most challenging parts of balancing work with raising kids?
Fabio: So both of us are highly driven professionals. The situation for my partner is different because she has the stability of a job and that brings a good state of mind for us as a family in case something goes wrong with my more risky work.
I made the decision of replacing myself within my business with an employee. I knew that was a temporary situation, but I had to put work aside for some time even if that was going to have a financial impact. But I was willing to do that to prioritise this first stage of my daughters life.
GRASP: You live and breathe creativity in your work. How do you bring that into your home as well? How do you hope to inspire your kids' creativity from a young age?
Fabio: Because I used to spend a lot of time at work, I wasn’t spending time on things outside of work that could actually benefit it. I used to do some exercise, but contemplation time was lacking. And one of the things I do with Amelia (my daughter) now, is go for long walks while she falls asleep and while we are outside for a break. And those walks have really helped me creatively work-wise.
I think in terms of bringing creativity home, we’re both very imaginative, quite resourceful and things come naturally to us in terms of getting Amelia into different things. We have our won take on how to engage Amelia into different activities. But we’re quite resourceful, we spend less money on toys and things like that.
We’re also highly aware of sustainability so we end up using a lot of things other people wouldn’t use and we’re quite minimalist about that. I think Amelia interacts a lot with us due to the way we engage with her creatively. We can always find new ways to get her attention.
GRASP: You're definitely a practice what you preach kind of person when it comes to sustainability. How do you handle that with children in the mix as well? What are some of the most impactful steps you think all families could take towards sustainability?
Fabio: The first decision we made was to invest in re-useable nappies. Definitely the biggest investment we made. After our research, we figured the spending of energy with the washing machine would have a big impact, so we took tumble dryer out of the equation. But as long as you don’t tumble dry re-useable nappies it should be good. That’s been quite impactful. We also use a lot of washable wipes and we get Amelia involved in using re-useable wet wipes to clean herself.
I think in general families could take on fashion as well. We mostly buy re-useable stuff, we try and bring our families into that conversation, getting them to prioritise buying second hand stuff and give us second hand stuff to give new life.
We also try to manage Amelia’s preconceptions that people have around re-using and recycling. That’s been interesting as well. I think detachment for her has been an important part of her education. So we would have the idea that it’s just a toy, not your toy, that you can play with. This detachment from ownership is also something that we try and bring some relativity to. Not making toys such an important thing, but are temporary and enjoyable part of play, but not part of ownership which has been interesting to work on as well.
They say it takes a village to raise a child. All the big and small inputs different grown ups have in a child’s life - from grandparents to playgroup leaders to the lady at the checkout - shape how kids grow up to see the world. Who makes up this village is different from family to family, and even child to child. What the people in this ‘village’ offer and model to the kids in their lives is more diverse still. This series shines a light on the different kinds of people that make up the villages around us!