We interviewed Maggie Bolger from the fabulous Maggie & Rose. Maggie lives in Kensington with her husband Sean and their four children, Azia, Oscar, India and Ollie and her mum, Azia’a budgie Windjackal and a Spaniel called Coco.
Q1) Maggie & Rose have just celebrated its 5th birthday. What inspired you to start the club?
Having nowhere to go with my 3 kids is where the idea of Maggie & Rose started. As soon as you had kids, it seemed there was no where remotely cool to go, everything geared to families was truly awful. I rented a small studio off a friend and started with art and play classes… and now here we are!!!
Q2) You have two recipe books about to be published. What’s your favourite family dinner?
I love to cook for my family, although I don’t get to as much now I am working, but on Sundays I do try and experiment with recipes, this helps with the recipes for our cooking school, so my kids are the guinea pigs. I am really big on involving the kids in cooking and tasting new foods. I personally love a big roast with all the trimmings, my kids’ favourite at the moment is a chicken stew with herby dumplings. The recipe is basically whatever is in my cupboards, thrown in a casserole dish and baked in the oven.
Q3) You’re a keen recycler, what’s your top tip on being environmentally friendly?
It is tough to recycle in big cities, especially as everyone is so busy. As my kids get older I am trying to teach them about the 3 R’s, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. They had great fun writing our “This Book Is Totally Rubbish” book with me, which basically encourages kids to make activities out of stuff from the recycling bin, instead of asking for new things all the time. It is amazing how much fun kids have with cardboard boxes!!!
Q4) Tell us a secret about London?
It is an awesome place to raise a family! I grew up in New Zealand which is pretty rural but I love city life. I love that our kids get to see the actual artworks they are studying or visit the historical places they are reading about.
A little secret place is the Ecology Centre in Holland Park, they have the most amazing area that is closed to the general public, where you can go pond dipping, bug hunting and exploring. They are always hosting great workshops and parties.
Q5) What’s your favourite baby product?
By the time you have your fourth baby, you think you have seen it all and tend to buy less. I got suckered into everything with my first but now I am so much more cautious! When Olli was born however, one of my girlfriends gave me a Melo Changing Bag – it is so great, fits perfectly into a normal handbag, so no need for a changing bag! I buy it for any of my friends having babies now!
Q6) It’s important for a working mama to have a balance, how do you manage to run such a successful business and juggle a family life?
This is a tough one and I definitely haven’t found the secret at all. As my kids are getting older I do involve them in the business, so if I work a weekend they come along and help out in the café. Olli visits the club every day and ‘tests’ the classes, which helps me feel like I see him a bit. My mum is the one person that helps me juggle everything, she looks after us all, makes sure I am fed and looked after – I am still definitely a spoilt mummies’ girl!!
Q7) Tell us about your veggie patch, how much time and dedication does it take to grow your own veggies?
I am not green fingered at all, my mother however is and you would not believe what she grows in our urban garden – courgettes, onions, tomatoes, every herb under the sun, we even have a grape vine – although all the birds ate the fruits this year. The kids all help her and are very proud that dinner has come from their garden!
Q8) What’s a typical weekend day-in-the-life for you and your family?
Weekends are very mad in our house, we always have homework to fight about, usually a child requires some item of clothing for school that they have grown out of, one or more have a party to go to, someone will inevitably have a friend over – so not very restful at all! My kid’s favourite days are pyjama days, where we potter, cook, tidy and watch TV all day in our PJs – although this is rare!! My favourite saying comes from Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey – “ What’s a weekend?” – I definitely feel like that!
Q9) What’s in the pipeline for you and Maggie and Rose?
It is exciting times at Maggie & Rose! We have been perfecting our product for 5 years and are now ready to roll it out. We have a new investor on board who really gets our vision and ethos, so our new super-duper club opens in Chiswick in the New Year and we are also looking at a space in Primrose Hill for 2014.
Personally I am so excited to be working on our new nursery concept, it is so creative and inspiring… we have an awesome team and I can’t wait for Olli to start in the New Year!
Q10) How would you sum yourself up in one sentence?
I have verbal diarrhoea so one sentence is impossible – one word I can do – manic!!!