B talks to the founder of one of the UK’s favourite maternity wear brands
Designer Cecile began her brand, Seraphine, in 2002 after some friends asked her to design some stylish pieces for their pregnancy. B discusses what happened next…
“I started my career in the advertising industry, working as an account manager at large London agencies including JWT,” says Cecile.
“It was while working here that I was inspired to set up Seraphine. I saw my pregnant friends and colleagues struggle to find stylish, office-appropriate maternity clothes and knew that this was a gap in the market that needed to be filled.
“Funnily enough, I actually fell pregnant with my eldest within the first year of starting Seraphine, so I found the whole experience incredibly inspiring in terms of styles and products that mums-to-be needed.
“I perfected the design for our popular under-the-bump maternity jeans while expecting my eldest son. In fact, our entire range of shoes came about as a direct result of my own experience of back pain during my second pregnancy. I couldn’t find a decent pair of supportive flat shoes that also looked stylish, so I decided to create them! Now though, my greatest indulgence is my Jimmy Choos – I can never resist!
“For me, the lightbulb moment came when I heard my pregnant friends and colleagues complain that they couldn’t find any stylish maternity clothes to wear – at the time there was just nothing suitable for an office environment.
“I love how varied my work is. One day I’ll be finalizing details on our latest collection, the next I’ll be discussing marketing strategies and the next I’ll be meeting with journalists and doing press interviews – there’s always something new and exciting going on.
“Of course it’s always a great day at work when a glamorous celebrity is photographed wearing one of our designs. Seraphine is known for dressing A-listers such as Jessica Alba, Gwen Stefani, Kate Hudson and even the Duchess of Cambridge.
“What really gets me out of bed in the morning, is knowing that our clothes are helping women all over the world to feel comfortable and confident at such a special time in their lives.
“Finding the right balance between work and family isn’t something that came naturally to me – I’ve had to work very hard on it over the years.
“I used to feel guilty all the time – when I was at work, I felt guilty about leaving my sons, and when I was at home I felt guilty about not dedicating enough time to my business.
“I’m a perfectionist by nature, and used to drive myself crazy trying to be the perfect textbook mum. But eventually I learned that the quality of time is far more important than the quantity, and knowing that enables me to be fully present whether I’m at home or at work.
One thing that helps me, is having a strategy for letting go of the little things. I make a list every morning of 10 things I’d like to achieve in a day (at work and at home). I then immediately cross off the three least important and accept that they simply won’t get done today. This helps me to prioritise my time and appreciate the things I do get done rather than dwelling on the ones I don’t.
When working on a new collection, we start by selecting prints each season and then brainstorm from there about which shapes would look good. We look to the catwalks for the latest trends, but always maintain our own style handwriting.
Seraphine maternity clothes are designed to be incredibly versatile. Our collection will take you from day to night or from office to evening and always adapting to fit & flatter your changing curves, with many of our styles offering access for nursing after baby is born.
“At Seraphine, we aim to provide everything a woman might need for her maternity wardrobe, from everyday basics to standout evening wear pieces. We plan each season’s collection in the same way that a woman builds up her wardrobe, so that we can be her one-stop-shop for maternity fashion.
“There are some standout styles whether it’s a statement midi dresses or feminine floral prints. Then there are the more classic timeless pieces like smart black trousers, LBDs, denim and work wear. And of course we make sure to include a good collection of essentials like basic tees, tanks, leggings & lingerie.
“We have years’ worth of expertise designing for pregnancy. We’ve perfected the art of combining great style & flattering shapes with comfort and practicality. We use only the softest fabrics to be gentle on sensitive skin, and our pieces are designed to grow with a woman’s curves, providing a flexible fit that will flatter through every stage of pregnancy.
“Tpday, the options available today for expectant mums have never been so good! Looking back to the situation before I founded Seraphine, there’s really no comparison. The fashion industry is finally catching up to the idea that women actually want to celebrate their changing curves through pregnancy with stylish clothes, rather than hiding their bumps away in unflattering tent dresses.
“We now have stores all over the world and while we don’t specifically design pieces for different areas of the world, we do find that certain styles perform better in certain markets. For example, we find that our Luxe Collection of maternity evening wear is particularly popular in America.
“It’s always a pleasure to see famous mums-to-be looking stylish in our designs – some of my personal highlights have been Gwen Stefani, Anne Hathaway, Sophie Ellis Bextor & Marion Cotillard wearing our faux-leather leggings on the red carpet. But my favourite look still has to be when the Duchess of Cambridge wore our signature knotted dress in fuchsia for the first official pictures with Prince George – it was such an iconic look! Seraphine was the Duchess of Cambridge’s maternity brand of choice throughout all three of her pregnancies.