StyleNest take five minutes with Kirsti Hadley, co-founder of MAD LIFE and MD of creative agency Kirsti International.
Mum to Sonny-Jay, entrepreneur and businesswoman, Kirsti is a woman after our own hearts. We took five minutes with Kirsti to find out the inspiration behind her work and how she takes much-needed down time.
As Co-Founder of MAD LIFE, you are rapidly changing those clichéd pre-conceptions of parenthood; tell us about the events you have coming up?
We’re working on our biggest event to date at the mo – it’s going to be abroad – it’s very early stages but we are super super excited about this one. The location is a family dream come true!
Which MAD LIFE project are you most proud of?
We have really loved working with Toca Boca over the course of this year. Being their brand ambassadors was a real biggie for us as we really love what they do, the way that they approach their apps is with a real sense of style and fun which I hope people get from MADLIFE too. The Toca event we organised was a dream come true – in a disused pub in East London, with all our fave indie brands helping bring the Toca apps to life, we had a Bleach Hair Bar and a tattoo parlour for kids…as far as kids parties go I think it was pretty rock n roll!
Talk us through your day-to-day schedule?
I could pretend I have some strict regime and that I have this perfect work life balance and am absolutely nailing running 2 companies but in reality I’m not, I don’t have a system or even a real running order for how I work things, apart from the obvious which is; I’m up at 07.30 to get the kiddo ready and do the school run and then I’m at my desk by 09.30 if I’m working from Brighton – and if I’m headed up to London I’ll be on the 10.19 train.
Emi (my business partner in MADLIFE) and I are on Skype all day for 2 days a week, it’s our virtual office.
Being MD of your creative agency, Kirsti International, which have been your favourite brands and clients to work with?
There have been so many…it’s been 10 years!
Kiehls was a lovely brand to work with. I was their brand consultant for 3 years and in that time set up collaborations with some of my fave people…..Pearl and Daisy Lowe, Florence Welch and Lily Allen, and the perks of working with that brand were the best, I’ve never smelled so good in my life! My Fred Perry and Peter Blake collab was a bit amazing too, it’s not often you get to say you’ve worked with a living legend and I def think SIR Peter Blake fits that bill…..SUCH a lovely man. And the Hemingways – I love that family – I’ve been working with them for 6 years I think……
The KI agency is now officially 100% female – It’s so ace to work with so many strong creative women. There are singers, stylists, bloggers, presenters and DJ’s but there is no competition at all, everyone is really supportive of each other and excitingly we’re currently planning a rebrand with the all girl line up in mind.
I LOVE my girls – they are all amazing. It sounds well cheesy but we’re all about the GIRL POWER.
We love your style, who and what inspires your look?
I feel like I’ve always got one foot in the seventies, I love leopard print, denim, a statement T, a patterned frock and a faux fur…. Stevie Nicks, Alabama from True Romance and Alison Steadman in Abigails Party are all fashion icons for me and have an influence on my dress sense
I never like to be too serious with outfits…it’s nice to have fun with fashion but I do like a bit of a uniform.
I’m a coat addict – we each have about 20 in our house which is slightly ridiculous – Brand-wise right now I really love Henry Holland, Lazy Oaf, Moschino, Ganni, Adidas and Reformation – I have to watch myself though, I have a tendency to want to wear everything all at the same time and can end up looking like I’m out in fancy dress if I’m not careful!
On a non-working Mum day, where do you like to take Sonny-Jay?
We are spoiled in Brighton during the summer months with the beach and the play parks, Winter is a little trickier so we organise meet ups to visit galleries in London with mates and make sure there are regular play-dates, and go swimming, best thing to do when its wet is to get wetter! This winter I’m probably going to get something regular going that I organise myself – occupational hazard!
When you’re not juggling work and Mum life, how do you unwind?
I exercise when I get a chance – it really clears my head and helps me to focus but I don’t do it half as much as I should – I try to read at least a few books a year and we watch a lot of films in our house because my other half is a director ……..and I do love a bit of Don’t Tell The Bride! Honestly though, I find work very relaxing! What a weirdo.
Which fellow Mamas do you look up to?
It’s a tricky question because we all have different obstacles to overcome that no one else knows about and we’re basically all doing the hardest job in the world so I feel like we all deserve to be put on a pedestal really. I do think that my mother in law to be is pretty special, she makes balancing a full personal life with always being there for your family look effortless when it clearly is not. And single parents – my god I take my hat off to them, absolute legends every one of them….
Do you have any advice for parents-to-be on avoiding being completely swamped by nappies and sleepless nights?
Download ALL THE BOX SETS. Sleep as much as you can. Take all the help you can get and even then ask for more, get out in the fresh air every day if possible, because it will make you feel better and give perspective – BUT – when you don’t make it out – don’t feel guilty, some days the gods are just conspiring against you leaving your abode and that’s ok. Give yourself a break.
There is not much that a walk in the park followed by a few episodes of your fave Netflix series and a good (by good I mean 4 hrs) nights sleep cannot fix.
When buying bedding such as mattress protectors we all forget about the adult bed!
I know we aren’t the norm in this but Sonny is 4 and still sleeps in our bed – we are all lead to believe that we will have our babies in some magical sleeping routine by the age of 6 months and it just isn’t true. Don’t feel bad about any co sleeping you decide to do but do it safely and protect that mattress of yours!
And……mum mates, well you really need a new circle of friends for your new life there is no doubt about that – a support network is vital.
Get online and see what there is local to you and if there isn’t anything then so a shout out and start something yourself – I found my first lot of new mum mates on Instagram and Twitter – check out @thecraftedsisterhood @motherland @selfishmother @hurrah4gin and of course US @mumanddadlife.
Can you give us some sneaky StyleNester insight into upcoming projects and events?
We have just designed our first clothing range, which we are really excited about AND we are launching a family travel guide called MADWORLD. It’s a good job I find work relaxing!