There are people who talk about making things happen – and then there are the people who get out and do it. Julia and Christina are the women behind Bloom & Blossom – the natural skincare brand for mamas and babies which quite literally started life around the kitchen table and is now a household name. (You might have heard of some of their fans? Kate Winslet, Emma Willis, a certain Duchess of Cambridge who is, I’m sure, laying in B&B supplies as we speak…) We’re huge fans in this house – I worked with Julia at Glamour and she remains a source of joy in my life, but to my children she is “the sweet dreams fairy”. And it was their pillow spray (which has allayed my daughter’s fears about having bad dreams) which inspired their collaboration with the Roald Dahl Story Company: the Bath, Book & Bedtime routine.
How would you sum up Bloom & Blossom in three words?
Honest, safe, solution.
What have been your highlights/biggest challenges thus far?
We have had some career defining moments so far – winning all our retailers – Space.NK, John Lewis, Liberty, Mamas & Papas and Ocado. Some incredible awards such as our CEW best new brand and Junior Design awards. And our recent partnership with the Roald Dahl Story Company. A day we will never forget was when we visited the archives at the Roald Dahl Museum and Story Centre in Great Missenden to be shown the original manuscripts and for them to share some of the never-before-published dreams was a moment to remember.
To be able to add this special edition of The BFG book, with the additional ‘whoppsy’ big secrets – ‘secrets that nobody is ever hearing before’ to our new range, was a defining highlight and it not only completed the Bath, Book & Bedtime purpose and the importance of reading at bedtime, but accomplishes our goal to ‘Sleep well and dream big, little dreamers’.
A challenge we have faced has been growing the team from a kitchen table start up, where we were just the two of us, laptops, coffee mugs and brains in gear – to building an extremely strong team of talent. As business grows we hope to continue to make good choices and build a team that continues to be supportive, trustworthy and passionate and can enjoy a laugh with us as we grow.
B&B meets the BFG. We love it. Can you tell me how it went from dream to reality? Where did the idea come from – did you have a lightbulb moment one evening whilst reading to your brood?
So we all know how wonderful it feels to put the children to bed – and peep in on them to see them in the deepest slumber. A feeling of accomplishment no less – the tantrums, the non-vegetable-eating dinner time dramas are all forgotten and you feel comforted that they are asleep, developing their brains, dreaming big and feeding their imaginations. Well, that’s where our idea came from. Our children loved using our BABY SLEEP Pillow Spray – ‘Does it give me happy dreams mummy?’ and the answer was simply yes. We knew from that moment that a range focused on our children, with absolute concentration being placed on that bedtime routine, was our next goal.
Bedtime should not be about blue screens and devices, but bath bubbles, catching up on the day, slowing down the pace, reading with them and enabling them to go to bed with positivity and belief that they will have a really good night’s sleep. That time at the end of the day when you are curled up together reading a book, is a moment we love to savour: everyone engaged in the book, cuddling and relaxing.
Sleep well and Dream Big has been our brand ethos since we launched our Sleep ranges in 2016 and it was certainly at the very core of this new launch. With that firmly in our minds we knew partnering with the greatest author of all time would not only be a dream come true, but an integral part of our new Bath, Book & Bedtime range. The BFG captures dreams and puts them in to children’s bedrooms no less – the perfect partnership. The love of Roald Dahl crosses every generation – children, parents and grandparents love him.
The shampoo, conditioner, bath & body wash and the bubble bath are £4.99 each; the pillow spray is £9.99. Buy them here.
I’m very interested to know what you tell your children about being (very successful) working mamas?
We are so proud to show our children that we work hard. We run a family business and the children are involved, not only as product testers and ambassadors, but they all appeared in the recent campaign. They are excited to come in to the office, see where we work, be with the team. They are our daily inspiration and they understand the business in their own way. ‘You sell bath bubbles mummy?’ Well I suppose we do and for the older ones an understanding of why we go to work, what that brings to the household and that they can do the same if they work hard at school is a regular conversation for us, and one we are proud to have.
Julia (right) and Christina with their bookish broods
Between you, you have five children (and two husbands!) and a burgeoning business: HOW?! Seriously, how do you manage the juggle? Do you ever think you’re getting the balance right?
So we are always quick to say – ‘balance – what actually is balance?’ we believe you create your own balance. What works for one person, may not work for others – do we have a balance? Not sure but what we do works. We chose an office near to where we both live so we could do the school run every morning and when there are choir performances or sports days we can get home in good time – we don’t want to miss the milestones, we need them as much as they do. We also allow ourselves some time together to regroup – we are family, we are sisters-in-law and there have been times when we have needed the other to pick up the reigns – it is an unspoken rule for us – showing such support, builds trust and respect and that is why our balance works, our foundations are strong.
What does a typical working day look like?
One thing we have learnt since having our own business is that we need to be able to juggle and diversify our talents. Small businesses are just that, small – everyone is all hands on deck, mucking in, turning their hand to new roles, maybe outside our natural comfort zone. We do know where are talents lie and let each other get on with our roles – so any day could be a combination of creative sign off, formulation analysis, dermatological testing results, contracts with retailers, margin negotiations, campaign ideas, PR events…… and of course the ever-so-important tea run (and that has to be just the right amount of milk).
How do you carve out time for yourself (do you?!)? Are you able to wind down and stop your brain whirring?
We do practise what we preach – a nighttime routine. The working day could have been long, busy and challenging, so we have to allow our brains to switch off. The rules are no laptops or phones in the bedroom and at least 20mins reading or a relaxing bath before bed – it is a bit of ‘me’ time, a bit of focus, a bit of silence in a day that like everyone is anything but. The occasional trip to the hairdressers enables us to have a magazine reading moment – but generally life is busy and there isn’t a great deal of opportunity for ‘me’ time but while the children are young and business is growing we are happy to accept this.
What advice would you give others about working with a relative/close friend?
Trust – you have to have complete trust in that person. You cannot have any doubts that they are not pulling their weight and in it with the same passion as you are. Trust builds respect, and respect builds the foundations. Those foundations need to be strong as business is hard, It is not an easy option. It is for hard workers only, and having someone on the rollercoaster ride with you is by far the best and we wouldn’t have it any other way.