Continuing the conversation with people who inspire Gather & Co we caught up with uber creative Coral Atkinson, founder of magical children’s décor brand Velveteen Babies.
Get Coral’s Silver Birch Wood Playmat here.
How did Velveteen Babies begin?
Five years ago whilst on maternity leave I found it really hard to find anything that suited our contemporary home, the high street just wasn’t offering it back then and I felt strongly that I didn’t want to compromise my home style just because we were parents. I wanted to create artisan-quality décor with a sense of fun that appealed to both children and their parents.
I was lucky in that Barney was a content baby and forever grateful to my mum who had just retired and was more than willing to help with childcare as I started to sew my first pieces before I returned to work. I didn’t really mean to set it up as a business but quickly I started receiving orders and an income and it became Velveteen Babies.
You’ve amassed such a huge following on Instagram, what do you think has been the secret to your success?
I started the Velveteen Babies Instagram account in 2014 and I think it was much easier to be seen back then. My background is in Visual Merchandising so Instagram was a natural fit for the brand and it allowed me to reach a whole world of style-conscious, interior-loving parents where I forged bonds that no other platform could have matched.
Since then I think lot of people have bought into the brand rather than each of the products hence why I spend a lot of time styling to keep the brand visual.
What’s the bravest things you’ve ever done?
Without a doubt giving up my job and going full time with Velveteen Babies. After going back to work post maternity leave it took a further two years for me to gather the courage to take the plunge. I needed to know it was good enough to give it all up …the security, the steady income, the holiday pay. Looking back I really don’t know how I managed to juggle it all at the time. Having a creative business is hard but I don’t think I could work for anyone else now.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I try to follow my heart and stay true to my own ideas and style. My children are also full of suggestions and they provide the best feedback.
What do you like to gather?
I love framed prints. I have so many of them around the home, I just can’t get enough of them.
What are your dreams for Velveteen Babies?
Over time I would love to scale up the business but there is no rush. If I’m seriously going to look at making pieces in a different way then it has to be just right which will take time. There’s so much pressure for creative businesses to grow quickly. Velveteen Babies is nearly five years old, I liken it to a child, still in its infancy and it doesn’t have to have all of the answers just yet.
I know I can’t stagnate but for now it is allowing me to do what I love and be present in raising my children. I hope they can take inspiration from what I am doing, know that you can do your own thing and not to be afraid of failing.
Our purpose at Gather & Co is to cut out the noise and create beautiful stylish wares that encourage spending quality time together, anywhere. With that in mind I’d love to end on a couple of quick fire questions….
Has to be mid century, we’re currently mid-renovation putting the soul back into our 1960’s home.
Favourite activities to do together as a family?
So many! We played a lot of Mouse Trap over Christmas and I love setting up a Brio train track. Also we’re big fans of all squashing up on the sofa for a movie, using our National Trust membership and visiting the Yorkshire Sculpture Park on weekends.
If you could go anywhere where would it be?
Without a doubt Japan.
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