When Noa was born I spent those first few months of newly established motherhood, running around from baby class to new mum meet up, like some sort of adrenalin fuelled participant in a pram race. I wanted to soak up the whole baby social spectrum, despite my sleep deprived existence.
With play sessions in musty smelling halls aplenty to grassy picnics in the park, I soon learnt to carry with me, at all times, a fold-out change mat and a blanket so I could place Noa down to kick and roll. And free my hands for a sip of, now cold, over-steeped green tea.
“This stylish baby playmat really is a portable patch of home.”
Now, nothing quite prepares you for the plethora of ‘stuff’ that you inadvertently acquire, once that little person enters your life. Much of it, it seems, has a limited lifespan before baby grows out of it, or is completely unnecessary altogether. But if there was one item I needed on my baby prep list first time around, it was the ‘Go Everywhere Mat’ (GEM) by Avery Row. I’m so glad to have one this time, for Alba.
With so many uses, this stylish baby playmat really is a portable patch of home. Designed to be hard-wearing as well as super comfy, it is the ideal solution to baby rest and play, in the most obscure of places.
In a saturated baby market where cutesy cupcake prints and the stereotypical pink and blue can still reign supreme, Avery Row founders, Helen and Fiona have really focussed their attention on creating contemporary designs that don’t compromise your style. Combining pops of fresh colours with their love of soft geometric prints, inspired from their years of working and living overseas. They have created a luxurious playfulness that sits perfectly in any modern interior.
I call it my “Magic Carpet”.
Designed specifically for baby’s comfort, Helen and Fiona have gone to long lengths to ensure that the GEM is free from any harsh chemical or dyes. Made in the UK from 100% woven cotton, the mat measures approx 69cm², just the right size for baby and perfect for carrying. Just roll it up and attach it to the handles of your buggy with its funky, yellow leather carry strap. The underside is made from a premium waxed cotton so it is water-resistant and perfect for use indoors and out. I call it my “Magic Carpet”.
Speaking to the Design Mums behind Avery Row
What inspired you to design the Go Everywhere Mat?
Helen – Avery Row was set up by myself and close friend, Fiona. We met nearly 15 years ago when we were both working in New York. We’ve always shared the same taste in most things and both wanted to design a range of textiles and related accessories, which would appeal to both mother and baby. In the early days of having a baby, it can be a bit of a shock getting to grips with all the new kit you have to have around your house and person! So we wanted to make useful products, which are stylish too.
The Go Everywhere Mat (GEM) was something I had been thinking about for a while because with both my children, when they were babies, and we were out and about, they inevitably wanted to lie down and have a kick about somewhere. I was always scrabbling around for a blanket or muslin, or using my coat (which would then get a bit of baby sick on!). We designed the play mat with a waxed cotton bottom so it’s hardwearing and can be brushed down easily making it great for indoor or outdoor use. It’s also padded and quilted so it’s comfortable to lie on, and all rolls up neatly with a coloured leather strap so it’s portable and looks great hooked on the buggy. And because of the way you fold and roll it, the top never touches the base, which means you know the top is clean. We wanted to bring something stylish to the new mum or dad, amidst all the new baby gear they have to buy and lug around.
Can you tell me a bit about the design process and anything you learnt along the way?
Fiona – From our love of textiles and wanting to create a certain look and feel that we both loved. Our look is based around a collection of soft geometric prints in a fresh and clean colour palette.
“It literally started with the two of us at my kitchen table drawing patterns and colouring them in with Helen’s daughters colouring pencils.”
We designed all our fabric designs. It literally started with the two of us at my kitchen table drawing patterns and colouring them in with Helen’s daughters colouring pencils. So it was definitely back to basics!
The GEM is made in the UK. We spent over a year sourcing our materials to ensure the quality was right, and that there were absolutely no chemicals, which could be harmful to a baby. We were quite surprised over the lack of regulations in this market but applied our own rigorous measures and testing to ensure we were 100% happy with the product. It all took longer than we thought. We naively thought we would be selling 3 months after we started!
The leather straps are also designed by us and hand crafted in a small workshop in East London. We hope to have some fun with the leather straps as the business progresses, with different colours, styles and finishes.
That sounds so exciting, I can’t wait. What else do you have in the pipeline?
Fiona – We will be introducing a range of cot bed and moses basket sheets later this year. It’s something that we are very excited about as once again we did all the designs ourselves. We are looking at new products all the time – we’d love to be able to be able to decorate a whole room with Avery Row products one day.
What is your secret to juggling family life and running a business?
Helen – I am very lucky with my situation. I work 3 days and during that time, have an amazing nanny who has been with us for 3 years now and feels like a member of the family. So I feel very happy that the girls are happy when I’m not there. BUT, of course, I wish I was with them every day, and the only one who did everything with them. I don’t ever want to feel like I’ve missed some part of their growing up. So far, I don’t feel like I have sacrificed that. I do believe it’s important for them to understand that mums work too – I think that sends a positive message. I am happier for having a part of my life that is challenging and rewarding in a different way and I believe that makes me a better mother.
The GEM is available in 3 beautiful prints, This Way That, Over The Rainbow and Round In Circles (which comes in 2 colourways), priced at £65. And this year the ladies have been busy, launching their first Limited Edition collection using Liberty fabrics. They have selected three designs which are inspired by childhood stories, making the Go Everywhere Mat an extra special keepsake.
Gallymoggers – An illustrative representation of the wonderful characters featured in the classic Alice in Wonderland novels, which has just celebrated its 150th anniversary of the original publication. A beautifully detailed print in a subtle colour palette.
Karter – This design of “hedgehog spikes in a loose formation” was inspired by Alice’s strange game of hedgehog croquet in the much-loved book. The end result is a gorgeous bright kaleidoscope of colour.
Fairytale picnic – a new print for 2016 and a classic in the making. The bright bursts of colour and print on each toadstool are set perfectly against the soft grey background.
This limited edition collection is available exclusively at avery-row.com, priced at £75. Check out their range of matching cushions and beautifully soft cotton baby blankets whilst you’re there.
We were very kindly gifted the ‘This Way That’ GEM when Alba was born. All opinions in this review are expressly my own.