Our brand spotlight continues and this time we talk to Majken Banke Ova who is the Founder of retro clothing brand AlbaBabY. We love their classical retro style which allows kids to play freely without the need for ironing and delicate washing. My own personal favourites are the baggy crawlers, and for the older ones the mod flower tunics and blouses and velour pullovers.
Describe your business set up and how long have you been established?
AlbaBabY launched in 2010, I just thought it should be a hobby beside being an architect – I believed that I could do both. I thought that about 10-20 shops in Denmark would be great. The first year I never dreamed big dreams with AlbaBabY. I never made a business plan and I, to be honest, did not know anything about producing and having a business on my own. Fortunately my husband is a marketing manager and knows all the things I do not know about having a business – he did all the financials from the beginning. I never thought that any people outside Denmark would be interested in AlbaBabY.
Today AlbaBabY are sold in more than 190 stores worldwide and I work with agents in 8 countries. Today I work full time together with my husband and we have 2 other employees and some times trainees – I love when we are 5 and 6 persons at the office because it gives me a lot of inspiration and dynamics.
At what age did you learn to sew?I started sewing when I was 27 and got our first born daughter Alberte – I remembered that I did buy a sewing machine at the local supermarket years back – in case that I would start sewing clothes for myself… but that never happened. So when we got Alberte, I thought that sewing clothes for her would be a great start
Do you still own some of your childhood clothes from the seventies for reference?
Unfortunately not – my mom did sew some clothes for me when I was a child…. but she did not keep it for me But I have pictures:)
How important is the production process to you? Do you strive to become more and more ecological with AlbaBabY…more green?
The production process is very important to me – so far almost 80% of our collection is Oeko-tex, standard 100, class 1 certificated. And we think a lot about the environment. All our tags are FSC paper. And we are having recycling plastic bags from next season. I believe that from every season AlbaBabY will make improvements in an even better direction for the environment.
It is also important to me that the workers at our factory are well paid and well treated.
If I had knew how hard it is to start a production – I´m not sure that I would have started AlbaBabY – To me it was very hard to find a good factory that were interested in working with a small player as we were the first seasons, they do not earn any money on a small player – so we needed to find someone that would believe in AlbaBabY and that we would grow big in a few years – so we are very happy they we today are producing in Europe and work close together with a Danish factory – that believed in AlbaBabY. We meet the factory owners on our way home from a business trip in an airplane. At that time I was sure that I would not like to continue designing and producing children clothes – we have had too much resistance – my head was full with concerns and I did not want to be a stressed mother of 3 small girls. If we had not met the two factory owners at that time I believe that I today would be working as an architect.
Can you tell me about your work studio, where it is based and what your typical day involves?
We are based in Aarhus in Denmark. I spend my time designing, controlling the production, planning photo shoots, graphics for magazines, our own catalogue, homepage etc. Talking to our retailers and answering mails.
How do you gain inspiration for your work?
My head is constantly doing pictures and mixing them up – I do not always know were the pictures or ideas comes from – sometimes I believe that I have made a great new detail or so – and then I find a very old dress in my closet and then I understand why I came up with that great detail idea;)!!! To me, I feel that my designing process step one is one big bowl with a lot of mixed up things from everywhere – 70’s, 50’s, 20’s, today and tomorrow. Then I start drawing and sewing. I just love clean cuts and lines, colours and details that connects with the collection.
How did you get started down this route and what did you do prior?
It helps me a lot – as an architect I was taught to think from a whole to detail – which I think is the most important tools in designing a collection. I learned myself to make things in my own way – get inspired – but ALWAYS make it your own. As an architect the marketing material is very important – the story, the concept and the development is the most important things in a design process.
What are your goals for the future?
I hope that I will continue surprising my fans and supporters and that AlbaBabY will evolve over time – both in production and in design.
What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I wanted to be a singer or movie star. But I do not sing very well…;)!!!