It’s a luxury British brand that aims to bring consumers the very best of ‘Made in Spain’ at affordable prices, with its exclusive children’s clothing collection and handmade line of home furnishings and accessories. B meets Cristina Rebollo of Very Merry Berry
“It’s a fact of life – today’s fashion industry relies on mass production. Designs move from the catwalk to the high street in the blink of an eye. Styles and stock are updated as often as possible and consumer demand follows suit. Clothes shopping has become a hobby. We really have become impulse and occasion buyers. I read recently that the UK spends £27 billion a year on clothes. That’s a lot of clothes! Only last month, MPs called on British fashion retailers to take action against our throwaway culture when it comes to clothing. Apparently, British shoppers buy twice as many clothes than we did a decade ago – more than any other nation in Europe. And there’s a hidden price tag – our environment and the workers that manufacture the goods are paying the price.
“Living in London, knowing about the effects of fast fashion and pregnant with my first child, I thought there must be a better way. If I was unable to find ethically made, well priced, yet luxurious and stylish products for my baby’s bedroom and wardrobe, like the ones I used to wear as a child, I thought that other parents must be feeling the same. I wanted to play a small part in breaking the fast fashion cycle, showing that there is a different way to dress children and to do business. And so, the idea of Very Merry Berry was born.
“I moved back to Spain and after the birth of my second child in 2015, the idea really snowballed. I had it in my head that I wanted to create a colourful line of clothing and home furnishings for boys and girls that I’d be happy for my children to wear and to have in my home. I wanted them to be sophisticated and fabulous but I also knew that to win the hearts and minds of parents they must be hard wearing, comfortable and practical.
“I spent many hours speaking to parents, analysing children’s fashion trends and pouring over the internet to study the competition. I soon realised that there was a gap in the market for ‘affordable luxury for little people’ – which later became our brand slogan. I wanted to help parents find designs and quality that rivalled the best upmarket designer brands at high street prices.
“I really believe there’s a new generation of parents that refuses to compromise. Parents want the best quality at a fair price and they expect first class customer service too. It’s our promise to deliver on these values that has become our sweet spot – stylish, high quality items in a bright array of colours, with fair prices but made ethically.
“My first task was to team up with a brilliant designer who helped me create stunning, classic collections, where the quality of every item, attention to detail and craftsmanship were second-to-none. The designer in question has dressed royals across Europe, including the likes of Prince George and Princess Charlotte and she totally bought into the concept of ‘affordable luxury’.
“The first thing we did was to do away with the seasonal calendar so that our fashion and home collections were made up of timeless pieces, made to last and meant to be passed down. There’s nothing better than a hand-me-down with provenance. Instead, we took our inspiration from classic designs and brought them up to date with a modern twist. We created a capsule wardrobe of staples for children from nine months to eight years old.
“My Spanish heritage is very important to me, so our collection proudly carries the ‘Made in Spain’ label, which I feel is synonymous with quality and timeless elegance. Our home and fashion collections are entirely designed and manufactured, mostly by hand, in Spain. The Spanish children’s clothing and textile industry has a worldwide reputation for its unrivalled quality, classic style and luxurious finishes, and I wanted to draw on this.
“I know that the finishing touches matter – every piece has been made with the utmost love and care. I refuse to sell anything that we would not buy ourselves and we sell at the lowest price that we can afford to.
“It’s been a tough environment to launch a new business – Brexit, uncertainty, austerity. We knew we had to stand out from the crowd. Before starting on the road to setting up Very Merry Berry, I’d spent 20 years working in marketing and PR for international blue chips and online businesses and I’ve drawn on this experience to make sure we’re putting ourselves out there, using the full potential of social media.
“This November marks the one-year anniversary of Very Merry Berry. Although I won’t pretend that beginnings are not tough for an online start-up (especially when you are squeezing margins to the limit to sell artisan products at the lowest possible price), we are very encouraged by the response from customers and media alike. In our first twelve months, we have been finalists in a couple of parenting awards and have struck partnerships with MumzWorld (the number one mother, baby and child website in UAE) and Westwing Spain (the largest home interiors e-commerce platform in Europe). We have also shipped products to customers all over the world from the UK and Ireland, to USA, Japan, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Dubai and Lebanon.
“One of the partnerships I’m especially proud of is with ‘kidfluencer’ Harlen Bodhi White. With his dapper fashion sense, it just seemed like Harlen was a perfect match for our brand. We were over the moon when Harlen’s mum, Chelsea, fell in love with our clothes and wanted Harlow and Harlen to wear the range and every time they appear on Instagram in our clothes we notice a big jump in sales. We think both the children look gorgeous in Very Merry Berry and their dress style epitomises our brand ethos of timeless elegance and sustainable fashion.
“Building a business that sells top end items at affordable prices, but in a sustainable and ethical way, does not come easy. It has taken literally thousands of hours of blind passion and dedication, and a willingness to act responsibly. I’ve juggled my career, kids and travel to make it all happen. But we love what we do and aspire to continue creating and designing products for their beauty, quality and longevity. We always do a little dance when a new order comes in and we will never lose sight of our customer promise – ‘Affordable Luxury for Little People’.”
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To find out more, visit the website www.verymerryberry.co.uk