You may know Marie-Chantal as the Crown Princess of Greece or you may be more familiar with her beautiful eponymous childrenswear brand and its signature angel wing designs. The mother of five may be revered for her elegance and poise as a princess, but is further admired for her success as a businesswoman. Marie-Chantal currently resides in New York, while her stylish children’s brand is based in London. She recently worked on a collaboration with Silver Cross to unite her luxury design experience with the quintessentially British nursery brand. We spoke to the iconic children’s fashion designer about her how she relaxes with the family, what inspires her work, and the best ways to get your business started.
You’re such a successful businesswoman. What advice could you offer to mothers wanting to start a business?
Research your market and ensure that whatever you design or create has a unique selling point so it stands out from all the other companies out there. Start small and don’t burden yourself with too much debt as that puts on too much pressure. Find people you can trust and delegate to them and build a team that you can rely on. Expand your business only when you have the money to re-invest in your company – organic growth gives you the independence to try to grow your business. Lots of small companies fail but it is better to have tried and failed than not at all. Dust yourself down and learn from your mistakes and start again.
Tell us about a day in the life of MC now you’re in NY. Has it changed much from being in London?
Moving us all to New York was a bit of a challenge, but now we are here it feels so much like home. We loved living in London for all those years – very special times when our children were young, but with my two elder children at university in the States we wanted to all be together again. Moving house as well as country was a big adventure for us. My three younger boys are at school in New York and have all settled very well and are enjoying making friends and discovering a new city and a new country. As we have wonderful friends back in London, we do try to visit as often as possible. Our friends from London are all very keen to visit us in New York!
What are your favourite places to take the children in London and NY?
When we lived in London we loved visiting Battersea Park with the children when they were small. I adore the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly and we often spent time there. We all loved to go to Yauatcha in Broadwick Street for lunch. The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum in Kensington were always favourites with the boys. Now we are in New York we are often in Central Park walking the dogs and enjoying a bit of people watching in the park. The boys love visiting the wonderful American Museum of Natural History Museum – always hoping that the exhibits come to life just like in the films!
Where’s your favourite family holiday destination?
On Harbor Island in the Bahamas where we always go as family. Our extended family as well as friends usually visit us there too so it is great for us and our children to all spend time together. It is wonderful to have big family meals, chatting, laughing and joking. As my working life is so busy it is wonderful to have time to relax and swim too.
What do you do for chill time and relaxing with the family?
We love walking the dogs – whether you live in the city or the countryside it is so important for children to connect with nature. Children like dogs do need a good run each day! As a family we love sitting down to lunch on the weekends to catch up with all of our news of the week gone by and the week coming up. Sometimes we have family or friends come over too as I love cooking and really enjoy making meals for them.
What five things can’t you live without?
- Seeing my adorable children every day
- Spending time with my husband – making sure that we have some time together alone is essential in the hurley-burley of family life.
- My Apple Macbook
- Help around the house
You look incredible… would you share some of your secrets with us?
Spinning at Soul Cycle keeps me fit even although sometimes it can be a bit of a struggle to push myself to go, but I always feel so fantastic afterwards – energised and ready for whatever the rest of the day has in store for me. I am lucky that as long as I exercise regularly I can usually eat what I want, well within reason! Investing in really well made clothes that are cut to suit one’s shape and figure is also really important – buy less but buy better.
You had a Silver Cross as a little girl. Have you used them with all of your children? And did this inspire your decision to work with them?
I love the British heritage of Silver Cross and everything the brand stands for. Creativity plays an important part in my life and so when the opportunity to collaborate with Silver Cross came about I thought how wonderfully perfect it was! Silver Cross is a great classic British brand that has a fantastic heritage. Yes we had a Silver Cross pram when my children were babies. My mother had a lovely cream and navy blue classic Silver Cross pram that she used for my sisters and me. My husband was a Sliver Cross baby too. I found a lovely picture of my mother-in-law with the Queen of Spain with their Silver Cross prams and that was really the catalyst for me as I started thinking about the collaboration.
Which is your favourite piece from the new Silver Cross collection and why?
I adore all of the collection especially the wonderful handcrafted prams but if pushed to pick only one thing it would be the cot bed as I used my experiences to add in details that I would of loved when my children were babies. There is the MC crest on it, which is such a symbol of how far we’ve come as a brand. I am so happy to have collaborated with Silver Cross – it was a wonderful stroke of serendipity!
What inspired the SC collection? Were there any styles or materials you knew you wanted to include from the very beginning?
The way I design our children’s wear collection inspired me when I started to work on the collection. I took the inspiration for the Marie-Chantal Silver Cross collection from my love of classic, traditional design but with a modern twist. The colours I selected for the bedding and pram blankets reflect the Marie-Chantal children’s wear brand iconic angel wings and colours. We started off the project with a mood board filled with fabrics and pictures ranging from classic cars, grey flannels and Scottish tweeds. Together with the designers at Silver Cross we designed a beautiful collection of prams, furniture and bedding.
What’s next in the pipeline for you? Are there plans to expand the SC collection?
We have some really exciting plans for the future but everything is under wraps – but for now it’s a big secret that I can’t wait to share when the time is right!
Sum yourself up in three words.
A mother who is blessed with wonderful children – sorry that is more than 3 words!