We interviewed Sheena Gunn and Jules McKeen, the women behind the inspirational Peaks of London. Jules has recently moved to Buckinghamshire from London with her husband Nick, Business Director for a media agency, and their two boys Alfie (4) and Harry (2). Sheena lives in Queens Park, London with her partner James, a musician, and their girls Rosie (13) and joy (11).
Your fashion line Peaks of London is beautiful and functional – finally! Where do you find your inspiration?
Sheena – it really all starts with seeking innovative ways of accessing the boob discreetly – a zipper here, a fold there, and builds out. The spring summer collection was focused on draping and pockets, and the upcoming autumn/winter collection is going to be all about zips and a Japanese aesthetic.
Have you ever encountered problems breastfeeding your children in public?
Jules – whilst I was pretty militant about breastfeeding publicly through both stints with my kids, research shows the UK to be one of the least accepting countries for this. Women we speak to have routinely felt under pressure to hide away – even in toilets – or to even express each feed.
I’ve read that you’ve had trouble with your ads being pulled from Facebook because they refer to breastfeeding – ridiculous as that sounds it’s true. Do you see a lot of misconceptions and stereotypes about breastfeeding in the media?
Jules – we were horrified to have a beautiful picture of a real woman breastfeeding in one of our discreet dresses pulled by Facebook for being an ‘offensive image’. It happens, and it happens more in the US actually, and we all need to keep fighting this.
Have you always wanted to start a fashion line?
Sheena – I had always looked at the maternity market and wanted to do things better, having graduated from the RCA years ago and gone into TV costume design. It was a chance encounter with Jules when she was seeking a dress to breastfeed in at a wedding that led to Peaks of London being set up, and her marketing background meant our skillsets work well together.
How do you balance work and family life?
Sheena – It’s always hard of course, but we are lucky running our own businesses to be able to drop kids off at school sometimes or work from home. You cut it though – running your own business means that even if you’re there to do their bath and bed routine, you are back online for a few hours afterwards.
What’s your favorite place to take the kids in London?
Jules – My boys are under 5 so we love taking them down to the Southbank to see all the performers and go to the Aquarium. The Royal Festival Hall often has really great free lunchtime concerts for kids over school holidays too.
What do you have planned for your family for Easter?
Sheena – We are hopefully going away for a week somewhere in the UK, and Jules is taking the boys to her family’s house on the south coast so they can run around on the beach! We have quite a lot of work to do but we will make sure we have lots of day trips with kids into London and plenty of playdates for them.
Tell us a secret about your London?
Jules – I like to hide away in Black’s Members’ Club in Dean St, Soho where no mobiles are allowed, and where even though it’s in the middle of Soho you feel like Samuel Johnson with an open fire and 18th century interior.
What’s a baby product you can’t live without?
Jules – The Baby Bjorn – a classic and in London, a real help to portability!
How would you sum yourselves up in one sentence?
Sheena – Two women trying to make things easier for stylish new mums!