Mother to Edie, and founder of British design company Betty & Walter, Lisa Levis shares her motherhood must-haves and nursery know-how
How are you finding life as a mum to little Edie?
It’s pretty amazing. I am so in love, thoroughly enjoying every minute and constantly moving from a state of total elation to mega mum-worry that I am somehow failing even though I’m doing everything as best I can – as I am sure most mums do. Edie is changing so quickly and it is wonderful to see. Oh to see life through the eyes of a child, it is so refreshing that nothing else matters but the here and now. Her facial expressions are the best thing in the world.
When you were pregnant did you discover any unexpected, can’t live without products?
Corn Flakes and toasties. Bio Oil is also amazing, and I loved my L-shaped cushion and drawstring trousers. And for after pregnancy, coffee.
Where do you like to shop for your daughter?
Zara Mini for the cutest clothes, Molly Meg for cool stuff, H&M for organic cotton essentials, M&S for their sweet leather pram shoes, IKEA for the best kids’ toys and Mini Boden for tights and swimming cossies.
What items do you keep in your changing bag?
I’ve been very lucky to discover that lots of my toiletry bags and pouches have come into their own when organising the baby bag. I use a Meringue double toiletry bag for nappies and wipes on one side, a change of clothes on the other (for Edie, not for me), and nappy bags in the middle. Two Pineapple Souffle make-up bags, one for first aid essentials: Bonjela, Calpol, teethers, nappy cream and Vicks VapoRub and one for lunch, snacks and bottle. This is all chucked into a Treacle Toffee tote alongside a few toys, a blanket and of course a changing mat. And my wallet, keys, phone and water.
Being a textile designer it must have been exciting kitting out Edie’s nursery.
It was too exciting. I made a plan, I wanted it to be a neutral canvas so I could splash blocks of bold colour all over the place by way of accessories, furniture and pictures for the wall. The room is quite small so I painted two chunky stripes of French grey and white horizontally across the walls to give a larger sense of space. The wardrobe and cot are white, and we painted the G-Plan sideboard in a super bright grass green. The curtains are a Betty & Walter print Pink Pepper, Puddle from a couple of seasons ago – she loves them. Then I have adorned the rest of the walls with posters I made, inspired by some 1950s German domino cards I found at a flea market years ago. Edie had a quilt made for her too by her great aunty, from a mix of bright coloured and vintage kids’ fabric I had collected over the space of 15 years, and finally got put to good use. I have the same rocking chair my mother used to feed me and my sister on and Mr Levis fixed up lots of chunky hooks around the place for clothes and coats. Edie also has a great collection of original The Garden Gang books which her daddy collected for her as he loved them when he was little.
Naming your business after your aunty and uncle must mean your family is a big part of it. Has Edie filled you with inspiration too?
Edie inspires me every day in one way or another. I sent her off to play today wearing a rather cool peach tights and mustard shoes combo. I can’t wait until the cutting, sticking, doodling and making stage. I am also thoroughly enjoying letting my creative juices loose on the odd costume for her.
Would you like to do a children’s range?
It is something I am often asked, but the company is still very young and it’s not a direction I necessarily want to take for the Betty & Walter brand at the moment. I am, however, working on a collection of changing bags, which is really exciting. I love the fact that our products are so easily adaptable for mums to use, and don’t necessarily look like ‘specific’ changing bags.
What has it been like for you juggling your own business and a very young family?
Edie has certainly brought about a great work-life balance for me and the juggling is tough but hugely rewarding too. The forced ‘step away’ gaps from work seem to actually really benefit the work focus. I always did find it hard to take a break, so she has definitely taught me that. Luckily for me she seems to enjoy what I do as much as me, and whilst she often looks at me with a rather baffled face when I am doing phone interviews she does love all the colour, pattern and stuff that comes with being a designer. I am very lucky, indeed.
When do you find the time to escape? And if so, where can you be found?
Weekends and small breaks have become really important and I am keen to cram in as much quality family time as possible. We love taking breaks on the south coast with blustery walks along Camber Sands or hanging out in Whitstable. Plus pottering at home, cooking, gardening and trips to the swings. Later this year we’re taking Edie on her first trip to Portugal and can’t wait to see her reaction to the feeling of sand in between her toes and bobbing about in the pool.
What’s in store for Betty & Walter this year?
Well you can expect new prints, new shapes, new products for spring/summer and then more in the autumn with a grand plan of (fingers, legs and arms crossed) opening a ‘Shoffice’ later in the year. A place to house Betty & Walter as a fabulous shop with the HQ out the back.