An interview with the founder of Isabella Oliver
From yummy mummies to celebrities alike, beautifully stylish Isabella Oliver items frequent many pregnancy wardrobes. Here we speak to founder and designer, Baukjen de Swaan Arons.
by Colleen Reid, Mindful Mum, 9th May 2012
With versatile styles created to flatter pregnancy curves, Isabella Oliver has been a growing global brand since launching in 2003. Their modern take on classic styles aims to celebrate pregnancy curves and their signature techniques of wrapping and ruching create a flattering fit that works at every stage.
Like many other popular businesses aimed at parents, Isabella Oliver is the brainchild of a mum herself who saw a gap in the market. Founder, Baukjen who was originally born in Amsterdam, lives in London with her husband Geoff and three children, Oliver, Sebastian and Pippa.
The growth of Isabella Oliver
For Baukjen, style has always been important. As her first baby bump grew, she found the transition from her pre-pregnancy to pregnancy wardrobe left her personal style and taste behind. It was Baukjen’s belief that pregnancy clothes should be fun and enjoyable that gave her the inspiration to launch her own fashion label. She remembers, “When I was pregnant with my first child, I struggled to find maternity clothing that reflected my pre-pregnancy style. Not only did I want clothes that I felt comfortable in but I also that was great quality so that I could wear them time and again as my pregnancy progressed. We did lots of research and I realised there was little out there for women and this is where the inspiration for Isabella Oliver came from.”
Growing up in a creative family, Baukjen always knew she was destined for a career in a creative industry. From a young age she was introduced to fashion photography, styling and graphic design and it was here that her passion for all things creative and stylish began.
With an idea for a fashion line on her mind, Baukjen called on her creative family for help with initial shoots and design and in 2003, Isabella Oliver was born. The company was named after her first born and the first born of other original co-founder.
The mother of three worked in marketing before stepping into the world of fashion and admits it was a steep learning curve from her initial inspiration to launching. Over the past nine years, the brand has been a huge success and has proven to be a big hit with celebrities including Angelina Jolie, Gwen Stefani and Jennifer Lopez, something that was surreal to Baukjen at first. She said, “Of course we always hoped that we would receive a good reception but we were thrilled when such beautiful and inspiring women began to wear our brand at this special time in their lives.”
The clothing line
Although becoming a premium maternity clothing brand, Baukjen didn’t stop there and went on to launch an everyday range to suit all women, whether pregnant or not. Isabella Oliver 365 is a range for the modern woman and puts a modern edge on classic pieces so they look great, not only day after day, but season after season.
These classic styles are mirrored in Baukjen’s own wardrobe. On describing her style she said, “I love simple and chic pieces that I can reinvent again and again. Each season I have a capsule collection of looks that I always return to such as my Isabella Oliver 365 biker jackets and tunics. I accessorise with statement jewellery to add a touch of fun to my look.”
Both Baukjen and husband Geoff work for the clothing label leaving family life a bit of a juggling act, though the trendy London couple seem to have mastered it. Despite being a successful designer, Baukjen loves spending time with her family when she has a day off. She said, “The family always come first and we work hard on having lots of time with our children. We’re lucky in that we have parents who are very supportive and involved in our daily lives.
“We live close to a big London park so we will often go for long walks. During the afternoon we will curl up on the sofa and watch a good family film. In the evening we will either meet up with some of my extended family in Carluccio’s, or if we’re staying in, we will light lots of candles and the kids will help to cook up something delicious.”
For our mums with blossoming baby bumps, the designer believes adapting to your new maternity style is all about comfort. She suggests, “Feeling comfortable goes hand in hand with feeling confident, so I would always go for pieces that reflect your true sense of style. Wearing designs that celebrate your new curves and flatter your figure will also make you feel feminine and stylish, so choose pieces that adapt well to your changing shape.”