This week, we interviewed Mandy Watkins, founder of luxury nightwear and loungewear label Hush. Mandy lives with her husband and two children, Rose, 9, and Finn, 7.
What made you start hush and how many pieces did you launch with?
Two things. First, I grew up in Melbourne and, after living in Hong Kong for 4 years, I moved to London to be with my then boyfriend (now husband). My first experience of a northern hemisphere winter came as a bit of a nasty surprise! I went into hibernation mode and that was when I came up with the idea of a brand dedicated to comfort, cosiness and quiet time. Secondly, I was made redundant – which gave me the money and the motivation to put the idea into practice.
Our first range had just five styles – pyjamas, our cardigown (a cross between a dressing gown and cardigan) sheepskin boots (worn as slippers in Oz) a throw and hot chocolate. It wasn’t enough to fill the 12 page catalogue, so we included some book and movie recommendations as well.
Do you have a favourite piece and does it crop up in the new collection?
We’ve done our first ever coat this winter and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. There’s also some really gorgeous, textured knitwear which I can see myself living in and a boucle skirt that’s going to make a very welcome addition to my wardrobe.
Is Oz a very different lifestyle for family living?
Yes. We shoot our summer catalogue in Australia and are very lucky to be able to combine that with a family Christmas holiday. So every year we get to experience life as an Aussie family for the best part of a month. Family life in Oz requires less imagination and planning than family life in London. Sunshine, large gardens, swimming pools and beaches make it pretty easy to entertain kids.
Favourite day out with the family?
One where my children don’t fight with each other! Seriously, we’re always very happy outside – particularly on a beach or walking in the countryside where the kids can lead the way and explore.
Merci in Paris. It’s a lifestyle store with a cafe selling homewares, stationery, fragrances, jewellery, clothing etc . The building is beautiful, the merchandising is inspiring, the products are amazing and you always find new and interesting brands.
Fail safe family recipe?
I’m not much of a cook, so I’ll say my husband’s lamb tagine. I think a few our friends might be a bit sick of it by now, but I still love it!
Baby product you couldn’t live without?
Baby wipes. My kids are now 7 and 9 and I still buy them.
What’s in the pipeline? Would you consider a kids’ line?
We’re launching home fragrances this winter which has been something I’ve wanted to do for ages and have really loved working on, so that’s exciting.
I don’t have any plans for a children’s range at this stage, but my 7-year old-son has big ambitions in that area. He’s in the process of creating a boy’s clothing brand. He has a name and three products so far and is negotiating on pocket money to pay to get the samples made!
On your to do list?
I’m off to Amsterdam next week to shoot our winter catalogue, so my work to do list is largely focused on preparing for that. On the home front there’s a leaking shower, a bed that needs to be made up for Australian friends that arrive the day I’m back from the shoot, a birthday present for my husband…
Sum up yourself in one sentence.
I’d probably say “What you see is what you get.” I’m an Aussie – we’re not very complicated!