StyleNest talk toys, Christmas wish lists and kids clothes with Alex Theophanous, founder of luxury online childrens wear site AlexandAlexa. Home of the world’s best kids clothes, gifts and toys, AlexandAlexa.com is your one stop shop for all things lovely and little.
The Global Style Destination for kids, AlexandAlexa.com takes the anguish out of kids shopping and puts back the amusement. With fun and quirky brands, AlexandAlexa.com offers a range of cutting-edge designers to classic to appeal to all styles and age groups. Founded in 2007 by husband and wife Alex Theophanous and Alexa Till, AlexandAlexa aims to bring parents a stress-free shopping experience with a variety of choice.
You’ve just announced the launch of Global Kids Fashion Week (GKFW), can you tell StyleNest readers the process behind organising this?
AlexandAlexa is the major sponsor and organiser of the event, alongside our additional partners the V&A Museum of Childhood and charity Kids Company. It’s a huge global event and we’re in the process of confirming the official schedule, including designer runway shows for media, our public fashion show, and the exciting workshops, panel discussions, and blogger activities.
There are so many fantastic children’s charities, do you think the Kids Company will be the official charity for GKFW for years to come or will you mix it up with other children’s charities?
As this is the first GKFW, and it’s held in London, we wanted to align with a charity in the capital that had a connection with children. Kids Company was the perfect choice.
Style and fashion is obviously a big part of your life. What influenced you to get into the industry?
Five years ago, and with two children under the age of five, I loathed the stress of family shopping trips and wanted to access the world’s best kids collections without having to hit a high street. And so AlexandAlexa was born – we strived to created an online shopping destination for parents like us.
Can you clue StyleNest readers in on what to expect at GKFW?
This debut event will shine the spotlight on children’s style from 18th to 20th March 2013 in the very stylish location of the Freemason’s Hall in Holborn, shortly after the international runway show circuit. Like its adult counterpart, Global Kids Fashion week will preview Autumn Winter collections from established fashion houses and London labels soon to be announced, as well as emerging up and coming designers. It will feature an exclusive Autumn Winter 13 runway show for the media and special guests, and will also stage a public fashion show featuring the current season children’s collections. Global Kids Fashion Week has been created as a fun finale to the fashion week season, and has a global reach; we have secured international guests and aim to put children’s fashion on the map worldwide.
AlexandAlexa.com are a husband and wife team, how do you ensure you both have quality time together outside work?
Alexa and I always make sure we are back for dinner together, and our weekends together are precious. Of course, it’s a busy family, with two gregarious boys under eight years old. But we love the buzz of a busy house, and have a social and open door attitude to friends and family. Nine pm most nights we stretch out on the sofa and watch a movie together with a secret snack (dark chocolate for me..).
You have two children, what do you and Alexa enjoy doing to relax with the family?
Getting the boys out of the house is important, as they go wild sitting inside for too long. We are lucky enough to live right next door to Richmond Park in London, so most days we take our dog Mimi out for walks. We have a Merlin Pass, which means we can take the boys to Lego Land, Chessington or The London Aquarium, which they love. Secretly, I do like to just sit in with the boys, and play games with them – as their dad with two boys, a lot of the time it means play fighting and it always ends in tears (mostly me…).
Children are beginning to dress older than their years, what advice would you give to parents to help their kids remain kids for as long as possible?
Part of our inspiration for Global Kids Fashion Week was the nostalgic collection that children make with their clothes. What we wear as youngsters at key points in our lives create lovely memories, and children’s fashion brands have playful designs which kids will love and remember for years to come – and parents can choose bright, fun pieces to connect with their kids’ childhood.
AlexandAlexa.com features so many fantastic brands. What is the ethos behind the brand?
Our ethos is to showcase the world of children’s fashion and lifestyle in creative ways.
Have you got any new brands coming onto the site next season that you are excited about and that you can share with our readers?
AlexandAlexa welcomes a clutch of new brands this season, such as Scandinavian footwear brand Swedish Hasbeens, cycling label Foska famed for its quirky ‘Marmite’ and ‘Heinz’ jerseys, and luxury equestrian line Polistas.
At StyleNest we love retro and wooden toys, are you particularly nostalgic about classic toys?
Yes we are. We pride ourselves in offering a selection of toys which parents won’t want to tidy away. These include beautiful wooden toys from French brand Moulin Roty, classic board games in wood by Paul Lamond, and dolls houses and accessories by Le Toy Van. Wooden items are a chic and stylish addition to any child’s toy box.
It must be very busy running your own company, when you do get a chance to escape which family friendly destinations do you like to escape to?
I work hard and play hard. Because I have an online business, resisting the temptation to get online in the evenings is my biggest problem. I think now having such a strong management and operational team really helps, as they tend to run the business, and I try (mostly) to stay out of the way. That said, being a small business, we’re all there to provide hands on help when needed. Family friendly destinations tend to be our friends and family houses at the weekends, or The Greek Islands in summer. Alexa’s family is in Germany, so we drive there once or twice a year. We might slip in a week’s family time holiday in October just to get some late winter sun.
StyleNest are always on the hunt for family friendly restaurants. Can you recommend any secret gems, which are great for the whole family?
Secret gems are secret for a reason… But ok, I’ll let you in on a couple. Sandy’s Pizza in Seymour Place in London do amazing Pizza’s for kids. It’s tiny, but specialise in Corsican food, and great value. And Paneri Greek Tavern in Palmers Green reminds me of my Greek roots, they do an amazing Meze, it’s just like being in Cyprus.
Setting up your own business must have been a brave and tough task. What advice would you give our readers who want to set up their own business?
Firstly, focus on the execution, not the idea (there’s always room in the market for a well-executed product), Have a business plan and stick to it -fail to plan, plan to fail. Get good investors who don’t just give cash, but who can help bounce ideas and decisions, and network to other contacts, and finally watch the cash, there is nothing worse than running out of money because you haven’t looked six months ahead.
Can you clue our readers in on what to expect for SS13 for childrenswear?
We have curated our key trends for SS13 children’s fashion, and these include neon; a trend which has filtered down from the adult runways and is an homage to all things electrifying. Think bold acid bright colour blocks and eye-popping prints. Our English Country Garden trend gives a nostalgic nod to 1970’s caravan trips with psychedelic prints, scout-like shades of tan and brown, and hippy style pieces. We have also edited a ‘Summer in the City’ range of trendy tees, urban denims, and skate-style shoes and accessories. This is just a taste of SS13 – the full collections will launch on the site in early 2013.
Are there any particular childrenswear designers you really love? Whether established or new to the fashion scene?
We’re huge fans of Stella McCartney Kids; the collection is always popular with our customers and the designs are so child-friendly and fun. We also love the relatively new children’s range from London designer Roskanda Ilincic; edgy girls party dresses which echo the mainline collection, perfect for little fashionistas. And we have uncovered some amazing new kids fashion collections including Munster Kids, an Australian brand with graphic T-sirts and an urban edge, Hucklebones, a beautiful UK brand which mills its own fabrics and is definitely a rising star in the fashion industry, and La Loi, a fabulous London label which creates graphic-printed leggings such as skeleton bones and fireworks.
Christmas is around the corner. Any top tips on shopping? What are the key buys of the season?
I may be biased, but my top tip for Christmas shopping is to purchase your list online. Beat the crowds and you can track your spending more easily when it’s in the peace and comfort of your own home. Our top trends for Christmas including the Pink selection of products, including bright Lomography cameras for budding photographers, the ‘Pink Stinks’ edit for girls who are allergic to pink! The discovery zone has a brilliant selection of kids technology items including VTech Innotabs too.
Finally, what’s your Christmas wish list?
A monster pack of peanut butter M&Ms, and a nice Chevrolet Volt (electric car), to eat them in. Please Santa…