This week we interviewed Iza Minkiewicz from Blue Almonds and the queen of cashmere Madeleine Thompson on their new joint collection.

You have both decided to join forces to create a new collection for children, how did this come about?

IZA: It was very exciting to collaborate with Madeleine Thompson for our first babywear collaboration. I have always been a big fan of her cashmere collections and found a natural synergy between herself and Blue Almonds – she has just had her own baby too so the timing couldn’t be more perfect.

MADELEINE: Blue Almonds is the kind of shop that made me desperate for a baby to dress and a nursery to decorate! I’m a new mother to my son Jake who is nearly 1 – I couldn’t believe the timing when Iza got in touch about a collaboration! I am so proud of the collection and so honoured to have been chosen to do it, it’s a really exciting new avenue for me as a designer and has a sentimental connection too.

What made you both want to set up your own companies and what advice would you give to our readers that are thinking of doing this?

IZA: I wanted to do something that was more in synergy with my life as a wife as a mother. Starting your own business can be tough so you need to learn to accept that fact that you will have to spend a lot of time juggling your business and your family life and children – be confident in your ability to find this balance and don’t wreck yourself with guilt. You can only do your best!

MADELEINE: Personally speaking the most important factor will always be the product – it forms the foundation of your business and the rest follows from there! I am a great advocate of starting small, keeping overheads low and growing in a real and legitimate way. If you believe in your ethos then the company will seem more authentic and appealing.

Madeleine, what are your tips for buying great cashmere?          

MADELEINE: As cashmere is an investment always go for a classic timeless design over something trend-focused. The best cashmere pieces are those that you can revisit time and time again and work into your wardrobe in a variety of ways. 

Iza, you left your high flying career in hedge funds to start up Blue Almonds, how does your new career compare to you old one?

IZA: It was always my dream to build a business and brand that would complement my new lifestyle as a mother-to-be. I have a six year old son who inspires me every day and I love being able to do something that I know he can enjoy, too – funnily enough he couldn’t get involved so much in hedge funds! I am now following my passion and seeing Blue Almonds grow from strength to strength makes me so proud!

Madeleine, your career started with a single cashmere beanie, how did you go from that to where you are now? 

MADELEINE: It all happened quite organically from the initial beanie which was then picked up by celebrities and editors at Vogue. I expanded into mainline womenswear and ever since have strived to maintain the quality of my cashmere with each collection, and adding on-trend touches to move previous pieces on. It’s been hard work but incredibly satisfying and I have loved every minute! I am constantly inspired and imagining new garments to incorporate.

What are your favourite family recipes?                                                                                                        

IZA: Russian dumplings – or pierogi ruskie! They are very elaborate to make and  I have to take a whole day off when I do make them as I make around 150 in one go and freeze them. They are my son Filip’s favourite dish! They are best served with sour cream and fried onions.

MADELEINE: My mum is Chinese so my favourite recipe of hers is steamed fish with ginger and soy – it’s always a hit with the whole family!

What’s the one baby product you couldn’t have lived without?

IZA: I have always dreamed about finding a beautiful cashmere sleeping bag – one that’s easy to use on a baby with a cute zip hood and pom pom detail. There was nothing like this on the market before and I really believe that with my collection with Madeleine we have achieved this. I am sure it will be one of the best sellers in Blue Almonds come September

MADELEINE: I really rate Paw Paw Cream – I use it for nappy rash, cuts, scratches and dry skin and it’s a real miracle worker!

What do you do to relax?

IZA: I love spending time as a family with my son and husband, cooking and reading and generally hanging out together. I love to stay active too – jogging in Hyde Park is my favourite and a great way to detach myself from work. I love to travel and cook for friends too. However I find the best way for me to relax is to escape to a different world through movies and after a period of stressful work I can spend the whole day going from one cinema to another watching different films.

MADELEINE: I’ve started meditating which I know will be amazing once I can really incorporate it into my life! On the more energetic side I do kick boxing which I love and find I am pretty zen after a session. I did acupuncture before I got pregnant with Jake and am now a proper convert. The ethos is all about keeping the body balanced but a nice side effect is that you sleep a lot better and are much more chilled!

What’s in the pipeline for you?

IZA: I am so proud of our new collaboration and can’t wait to do more collections. In the future I definitely want to create my own exclusive line of products and see my name on labels more and more in the store.

MADELEINE: I’m hoping to expand the junior line into older children and perhaps teens. And have big plans for the brand as a whole!

How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?

IZA: A hard-working mother following her dream!

MADELEINE: Hard working, loyal and slightly bonkers!