Now that the summer holidays are upon us, children have finally been liberated from their school uniforms and can get down to the serious business of having fun. Whether as a family you are heading off on a foreign adventure or planning a break closer to home – if you need inspiration for children’s summer clothes, there are two new Yorkshire companies that might be able to provide a few ideas.
IndiaCoco, based in Huddersfield, was set up last year by Claire Harper and her husband Lee Williams with the aim of providing good quality, handpicked British-designed clothing for children aged 0-8 years.
“I had been working for many years in large corporate organisations in senior marketing roles and I saw a gap in the market for a destination shop for original, stylish British children’s clothes all under one roof,” says Claire. “I also wanted to offer great customer service – to make it very easy for customers to shop with us and to give them great value and quality online and offline.”
Claire and her husband both have excellent credentials – she has worked with many leading retailers including Argos, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and most recently the nursery and fashion retailer Mamas & Papas, while he is a former finance director of Morrisons.
“From a personal point of view what prompted me to set up the business was that I went back to work full-time when my first daughter was three months old,” explains Claire. “My work is very important to me but being a mum is my number one priority, and when I had my second daughter, I just thought that now was the opportunity to leave corporate life and set up a retail brand which my husband and I had always talked about.” The company is named after the couple’s two daughters, five-year-old India and Coco, two, and the clothes in the summer range are attractive, well-made but not too fussy, and in appealing bold colours. Brands include Toby Tiger, no added sugar, Lily + Sid and Little Shrimp.
“They are not designer or too expensive, just good quality clothes that can be passed down to younger children,” says Claire. “I think today customers are prepared to pay a little bit more for good quality products. They are all designed in this country and many of them are manufactured here too. There is a trend of backing good British brands and customers want to know where the products are from these days. A lot of our brands are organic and customers value that.”
The clothes are available online but Claire has also established a partnership with Blacker Hall Farm Shop in Wakefield which is selling a selection of IndiaCoco’s products. “They are a family business and we share similar values,” says Claire. “It’s a lovely retail destination and it’s a great opportunity for customers who like to touch and feel the products. People still want to get close to clothes.” Claire has also been selling clothes at festivals and pop-up shops and there are plans to open up a shop of their own when they find the right place.
Claire is currently running the business out her dining room, but it looks set to gradually expand. “It’s our first birthday and everything seems to be moving in the right direction,” she says. “It was a huge leap of faith, but we had researched the market thoroughly and we are receiving some fantastic feedback from our customers. It’s a very exciting time as we move into year two.”
Over in Wetherby is another new business, Lucas Frank, set up in 2012 by designer Sarah Beveridge from Wakefield who noticed a gap in the market for bespoke boy’s clothing. The company’s products are designed solely for boys between the ages of 18 months and 10 years. “It’s easy to buy clothes for girls but not so easy for boys,” says creative director Alan Simpson. “We developed the design ourselves and the clothes are mostly manufactured in Turkey. We have 55 outlets in the UK and abroad including Selfridges and Hoopers. We would eventually like to get manufacturing in the UK, but that’s going to take time. We are very much into creating a value for money product that will last seasons and seasons, clothes that you can hand down to a little brother.”
The look is described as “boyish and British” – it’s a smart casual style with a good selection of polos and tees, rugby shirts and cricket jumpers in nice simple, old-fashioned designs with a modern twist. Alan says that the idea of the brand is to conjure up images of the 1950s, long summer days playing in dens and eating ice cream. This slightly nostalgic feel seems to appeal not only to the British market – the company already has agents in Holland and Spain and has recently been picked up by a US agent. “The business has grown quite quickly,” says Alan. “And the spring summer collection has really taken off.”
Lucas Frank 08700 502580, for stockists and to buy online visit www.lucasfrank.com
IndiaCoco 0845 475 0911 at Blacker Hall Farm Shop, Wakefield and online at www.indiacoco.com