As a mum of three to a 9 year old boy, a 6 year old girl and 2 year old “baby” boy, I think I have finally got myself in a place where I feel comfortable to share our story.
Introducing to you, the beginning of something special.
The birth of Three Little Pandas kids lifestyle brand!
It only took a good 10 years!
Skipping to the “good stuff”, it was whilst studying at one of the most recognised universities in London that I completed and passed my course in Fine art at Chelsea (University of the Arts) - and it was then that I realised how deep my love and passion for painting and for all things creative actually was.
It’s quite funny looking back on the whole experience. Anybody that knows me knows how “untechy” I am and so I chuckle reminiscing about lectures and how I’d be the only one in the class without a mac or a laptop and sitting there “old school” with my note pad and pen frantically making notes and trying to keep up.
Keeping up became the theme of that long year. I was 19 and became pregnant with my eldest “Panda”, Shayne. I was so determined not to fall into that stereotypical category of a young mum who dropped out of education and couldn’t support their baby.
The stares from teachers and other students were intimidating and felt judgemental but I stuck it out and worked around it. I vividly remember having a meeting with one of the head of departments due to my low attendance – can’t remember her name – I’ll have to google it later!
It was then that I explained my awkward situation. My lack of attendance wasn’t out of choice but for the health of our baby. Anyone who’s been in an art studio with at least 10 other students at any one time using aerosols, paints and other products that are not advisable to inhale will understand. It’s similar to just spraying a load of hairspray in your face minus the burn in your eye when you accidentally do that. – ok over dramatizing it a bit but you get the gist.
Anyway, it was she that gave me the kick up the arse that I needed to get through the year. She asked me what I dreamed of doing after I had finished and as I got “older”.
I remember saying “I’d like to have my own exhibition” – that was the dream.
Her response? – It was something along the lines of “do you know how many people wish for that? Good luck..” in a sarcastic tone and went on to explaining that’s why they end up teaching because it’s so difficult to have their own exhibition.
Well I didn’t let that stop me. My dream job evolved a little and I ended up with a vision of having my own boutique, a space to call my own. Our own. With beautiful kids clothing hanging from bold fixtures and other kid friendly products dotted around whilst MY paintings hung on the walls. Why can’t I bring my two passions together?
I had a vision of starting my own baby and kids clothing line, one that stood out, was stylish, relevant, cool and practical – If only “Mama Panda” knew then what the “Mama Panda” knows now.
Giving birth was not easy and the “dream job” had to be put on hold - but only temporarily.
A few years and a couple of jobs later, my Sienna Panda was born.
As any parent can relate, juggling work and 2 young children (under 5s may I add) had its challenges but of course was worth every heartbeat.
I had the pleasure of joining the management team of a brand dedicated to baby and childrenswear situated in the heart of the west end as well as running the administrative department at my daughters then pre-school. My children had become my life but rather than let the situation get the better of me, I incorporated my life into my work. It felt like a massive change and step towards my goal from where I worked prior to having my brood – it was now feeling relevant.
Since the age of 16 I have always been employed. No excuses. And having children never changed this. But having “ShayNa” did change me. I realised that every moment spent with them is a moment so precious and a shame to miss.
Fast forward a few years and “The Benji” Panda was born.
I got so caught up in my routine of work, kids, housekeeping, eat, drink, sleep – repeat - that I suppose I forgot about that dream. Until now. After speaking with my partner, my family, dear friends, and my biggest drive: my kids, I decided it was a long time coming that I should finally get to it!
One day, took out my sketchpad and pen and asked the 2 Pandas “Hey kids! If Benji could be an animal what do you think he should be?” “A panda!” they replied. “why?” I asked – “Because he’s cute and chubby” they answered *heart melts!*
You know those moments when people say “everything happens for a reason” good or bad.
I strongly believe that 10 years ago just wasn’t the right time.
Now, I have a name for our brand that has SENTIMENTAL value (of course I added to the reason for pandas was to signify their rarity in the world today, and being black, white and Asian all at the same time – all-inclusive and all that lol) but sentiment is everything in what I’ve wanted to create.
So let’s talk clothing.
Beautiful, cute, cool, high quality, affordable - these are all factors we put into consideration when buying for our “little pandas”. – see what I did there? ;)
What makes our clothing different to those bought on the high street?
You can’t find our brand on the high street – (not YET anyway)
Our tees are made of 100% GOTS approved organic cotton which means everyone involved in the making of our products were treated fairly, paid fairly and the cotton used is grown without any harmful pesticides or treated with harmful chemicals as some other materials may be.
Everything we have in our shop is ethically sourced.
Our brand has a simple reminder:
Make your dream a reality
Only want the best for our next generation and those after
Respect our environment
Treat people with respect
I hope you had fun reading this as much as I did typing it – still getting the hang of this blog stuff. “STORY OF A MAMA PANDA’S LIFE” MUCH? Or at least a summary of it…
And for now, a massive thank you for reading and supporting our #teampanda
Until next post…