Why is it so difficult to find attractive children’s shoes that are comfortable, and stay on, and don’t fall apart after a couple of outings and look really chavvy?
When we discovered Willabeans we were overcome with excitement to find children’s shoes that are practical and fun and look amazing with whatever ridiculous outfit our children insist on wearing.
Lucky us got to chat to Clare Archer, the clever mama who founded the brand… here’s the interview….
What inspired you to set up Willabeans?
I have a god daughter in Spain who always had the most gorgeous traditional Spanish boots/shoes, which we were very jealous of. I was also keen to set up something on my own as the wage I earned as a reception teacher compared to the cost of nusery fees did not add up in my favour at all!! I do hope to go back to teaching when the girls go to school though as I did love my job!
Why the name?
We were thinking of all sorts of slightly cringey names and didn’t like any of them. My husband called our daughter Willa ‘Willabean’. Whilst giving the girls lunch with my cousin and brainstorming names one day we were calling her ‘Willabean’ and we both said ‘that’s it, that’s the name’ and it stuck.
What is your USP?
Traditional shoes that are effortlessly stylish with no fussy added decoration. The bright laces add a bit of colour and fun for the children.
Best bit about starting your own business?
It gave me another focus in life other than babies. I do find after having children you can start just talking about children! I wanted something else in my life and to earn some of my own money. I can also work around the girls for example during their afternoon naps etc.
Not knowing if it is going to be a success and being left with a load of boots in my cupboard!
Advice to other mumpreneurs?
I didn’t really see it as setting up a company as this seemed a bit daunting. It sounds a bit weird but I treated it a bit like organising my wedding – I just did all the various bits and bobs and hoped it would all come together in the end. I also treated it as a fun kind of hobby, really.
I’ve taken it slowly and not thrown too much money at it. I have found it amazing how you can do things relatively cheaply – for example my website is pretty basic and I’ve only got two styles of boots at the moment. I really hope to extend the range soon.
Where do parents go wrong when its comes to dressing their babies?
I personally love white and light colours on babies and when they get a bit older I think just keep it simple and classic.
What is your favourite item from your collection?
I love the lace ups but the Velcro are probably more practical and easier for the children to put on and off themselves.
Your mum uniform?
Jeans and a jumper although I need to have a big shop for clothes for myself I keep saying I will wait until I’ve lost some more weight but I have been waiting a while!
Best new discovery?
There are so many amazing small brands out there and this is something I’m loving about starting Willabeans as I’m discovering more and more through doing it.
I love Dotty Dungarees, Little Leggies, Isla and Wilbur, Eddie and Bee, Willa and the Bear, The Baby Sleep Shop and there are so many more! Most of the owners are mums like me and everyone is very supportive of each other. The whole Instagram community is huge which I had no idea about before.
Where do you go for date night (in an ideal world?!)
My favourite restaurant is Hunan in Pimlico and that’s the last place we went for my birthday. We need to make more of an effort to do date nights we very rarely go!
My friend and I were discussing babysitting swapping the other day so we can do it more and save on babysitting costs.