Baukjen de Swaan Arons
Baukjen is the Founder and Creative and Design Director at Isabella Oliver. She runs Isabella Oliver together with her husband and co-founder, Geoff van Sonsbeeck.
Baukjen grew up surrounded by creative talent with family members involved in fashion photography, styling, and graphic design. Unable to find stylish maternity wear during her first pregnancy (of her eldest son Oliver), Isabella Oliver launched in 2003 with the aim of creating flattering and contemporary designs for pregnant women. Following its national and international success, a contemporary women’s wear collection was launched in 2009, named Isabella Oliver 365. Now in her role as Creative and Design Director, Baukjen oversees the creative process behind the branding and the collections, from the design stage through to the campaigns.
Did you find your style changed when you entered motherhood?
I’ve always gone for easy modern style but when I became pregnant for the first time, I preferred to accentuate my new curves by opting for fitted yet flattering silhouettes.
What’s your failsafe look when you have just a moment to get ready?
An Isabella Oliver 365 tunic dress, black leggings, and ballet pumps is always a stylish but comfortable look for a busy day.
Any styling tips you can offer our readers?
Invest in accessories that you can wear over and over again; a statement necklace, for example, will bring a new dimension to a simple tee or jersey dress. Try to experiment by layering up in new ways, it’s a great way of giving longevity to summer styles or paring down evening pieces.
Are there any mums out there who really inspire you?
All mums inspire me. I learn something from everybody. We’re all doing the best we can and I’m one for supporting not judging each other. But of course, my own mother is my absolute inspiration.
Are you off on holiday soon? Is there one particular family friendly hotel you would go back to time and time again?
We recently visited Babington House in Somerset to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It’s where we got married and we now visit the hotel with the kids to enjoy relaxed family time.
What’s your home style? How to you manage with kids’ toys everywhere?
I would describe it as modern with Victorian accents (our home is a renovated Victorian house). When you have kids, having great storage is vital so we have plenty of cupboards for all our kids’ toys. And we are big believers in passing toys on to a second home once the kids have stopped playing with them; it gives the toys another home and keeps our house manageable.
Mums have a real voice nowadays through social media. Are there any mummy bloggers you follow?
Oh, so many! Online Stylist, Fab Looking At Any Age, Dulwich Mum ,and Pregnant Fashionista are all blogs that I read regularly.
We are always looking for new recipes on StyleNest; do you have a failsafe family dish you swear by?
This is an easy recipe we were given by a farmer at a recent farmers market:
Cut sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes lengthwise, put in a pan with heated olive oil, slowly soften them, add lots of crushed garlic, and season to taste. Then add to spaghetti and add basil. Delicious! Tip: add more tomatoes than you think are necessary.
When you’re not at work what do you enjoy doing with the kids? Where do you take them? Are there any local parks or attraction museums they particularly love?
We love getting some fresh air, so taking the kids for a walk on Hampstead Heath or in Hyde Park is a great way of getting everyone out of the house. The kids also love taking a swim at Shoreditch House during the weekends. On days where it’s just us, we love to plan a family dinner party. We do the whole works, plan the courses, write the shopping list, and go to buy; we cook the courses together and lay the table (all our kids have inherited my love of candles so the table always looks magical). Afterwards, we tidy up and collapse on the sofa to watch a film together. Grease is a favourite.
Do you have a particular restaurant that you love going to but that is also family friendly?
Carluccio’s is very family friendly. Every Sunday evening we go there with the kids and the extended family.
Who is your style icon?
Currently I love Emmanuelle Alt, she has such a cool and effortless sense of style.