(Pictured Above) Phoebe Bell at 39 weeks with her Ubabub Pod Cot.
There are some fellow Australian Brands, that we just adore. And one such local gem, is beautiful homewares, apparel and accessories brand Sage x Clare. We recently caught up with their founder – the wonderful, talented Phoebe Bell and stole a few precious moments with her days before she delivers their second baby. Discussing all things nesting, nursery design and the Super-Boss-Mumma juggle...
You’re are about to welcome baby number two (anyday now!) How are you feeling second time around? Is this pregnancy very different to when you had Jude?
I’m ready to pop at any moment and, to be honest, it can’t come soon enough! My first pregnancy I suffered pelvic instability in the last trimester and spent 10 weeks on crutches + trying to run Sage x Clare + 'do it all’. This pregnancy has been different in many ways… turns out the ‘pelvic instability’ I had first time around was actually a whole lot more and I’m due for a double hip replacement shortly after baby number two is born. So, it's been physically more challenging. On the flip side I’ve been slowly learning to nurture myself more, not try and do it all, ask for help, and surrender to the journey of pregnancy and motherhood. Despite the chronic pain, I’ve been calmer and more at ease in myself, trusting that my body is doing everything it needs to.
Have you had any crazy ‘nesting must dos’ or cravings in either of your pregnancies?
Gosh yes, I feel like I’ve been nesting more than the first time around! Perhaps it’s just knowing what’s coming this time?
Nesting recently has involved a far more practical look at how to prepare our family and home for this baby. I bought a Thermomix (because at least dinner can be cooking while I’m bathing Jude and the baby!), finally got myself a decent washing machine and tumble dryer (I couldn’t believe how much time I spent in the laundry after Jude arrived), and got myself a separate standalone freezer (our current freezer is packed so there’s no way it’ll squeeze in pouches of breast milk or pre-prepared meals for when we come home). Wow, I just realised how many appliances that is! I’m all about ease now and rather than spending time and money on the cutest baby clothes or which pram to get, it’s been all about how to run the house as conveniently as possible and take away those niggly annoyances like no freezer space and a 20 yr old washing machine that doesn’t remove stains.
When Jude was a baby, everything was new, what do you think you would do differently this time around?
When Jude was a baby, I really never considered what it meant to look after myself to ensure I stayed healthy and well. You’re told all the things you need to do to care for your baby (change their nappy, feed them every 3 hours, bath them etc) so that’s what I did, without any regard for also sustaining myself. I came out of hospital, went to a Christmas party with Jude when he was 6 days old, and resumed work pretty much right away. People used to say ’sleep when baby sleeps’ and my motto was basically ‘work when baby sleeps’, even if that was at 1am in the morning. It worked well for a while and I felt like Superwoman but around the 6-7 month mark, I literally fell in a heap… I was so physically depleted and health issues started to come to the surface.
This time around, I’ve spent the last couple of months reading books like ’The First Forty Days’, ’The Fourth Trimester’ and ‘Golden Month’, in an effort to understand and practice a different approach to motherhood, particularly those first couple of months. I’m looking forward to slowing down more, bonding more with my baby, taking care of myself and not being afraid to ask for what I need - whether that be a cuppa with a friend at home, a pot of bone broth from my Dad, or a load of washing put on by my husband. It takes a village and I’ll be calling on them far more this time!
Do you have any particular special or sentimental nursery pieces that you adore?
I was given the most beautiful cashmere baby blanket by my sister and her husband when Jude was born. It’s handmade and so soft. It’s also been passed on to my niece when she was born and it’s now back with us for our next baby’s arrival. Definitely one of those pieces that we’ll have forever.
What super style advice can you give to Mums looking to create a new nursery space?
Consider pieces that are multi-functional… babies to toddlers to little people have such different requirements so it’s great to consider pieces that have some longevity and will see you through at least a few of these big transitions. For instance, rather than a standalone change table, we bought a change mat to sit on top of a chest of drawers. The top drawer held all the nappies and wipes, while the other drawers stored all of Jude’s clothes, towels and bedlinen.
I also love mixing old with new! It gives the room a sense of soul and individuality, while also being practical and functional. I recently found a colourful vintage crochet blanket, a mid century mirror and a 70’s rattan basket (perfect for washing) that gives the space that extra character and eclecticism, making it feel more homely and less like a nursery showroom.
Which pieces of the Sage x Clare collection do you recommend for a great parent and bub space?
Our wall hangings are particularly perfect for a great parent and bub space - once this baby is born (and we finally know the gender) I’ll be popping up either the Luella or Rari Wall Hanging above the cot. I’ve also got my favourite baby cot sheet on – the Bumbi Cot Sheet – on the your Ubabub Pod Cot, and tied it back with a mix of Sage x Clare cushions that are for the young and old.
How do you juggle Sage x Clare and Mummahood?
With a lot of help!! It is a juggle but it would be wrong of me to take all the credit… I am fortunate to have a wonderfully supportive team at Sage x Clare, as well as a very hands-on husband and family close by that regularly step in. My hips have become particularly debilitating in the last 2 years, making it difficult for me to look after Jude at times (even dressing/bathing/lifting him creates havoc for me), so it’s meant I’ve had to cultivate a community or village to both assist in raising my family AND growing Sage x Clare. There’s been some lovely lessons to learn throughout this time and, while the juggle will always be there, I’ve also realised it’s ok not to be everything to everyone - both at home and at work.
Sage x Clare is always so fresh and evolving. Where do find your design inspiration? I find inspiration in so many places! Travel has always been the most obvious source of inspiration… exploring new and interesting places, even if it’s a night away locally, usually sparks some small idea that turns into a range of cushions or a print or even an entire range. I’m such a visual person generally and find beauty and inspiration in fashion, a good coffee table book, Instagram or art.
You have a beautiful mid-century inspired home, does that play into the Sage x Clare collections?
Without intending to, my obsession with mid-century design (even retro design, generally) feeds into our collections consistently. There is a sense of nostalgia in a lot of our designs and I love it when our customers say, “oh that reminds of a sheet my Nanna used to have”. Our collections often evoke special memories and I think it’s largely influenced by our love for vintage interiors, textiles, fashion and decor.
Any top tips for fellow Mums dreaming about a start up?
Um, do it! Really… You’ll be met with plenty of opposition from well-meaning friends and family on all the reasons why it won’t work, but I’m genuinely in awe of so many Mums who’ve gone ahead and done it. There is something quite magical about a Mum who is raising a family but also empowered and motivated in her own goals and passions, whatever that may be. Start ups are much like motherhood really in that you’ll find a way… you will always find a way.
What advice do you have for other Boss-Mums on managing the Business and Baby balancing act?
In case you haven’t picked up what I’m putting down throughout these q and a’s, it’s OK TO ASK FOR HELP! It’s ok to admit that you cannot do it all. It’s ok to say ‘I’m really not coping today’ or ‘I’m too tired to cook, frozen meal anyone?’. At various times I’ve had to have these conversations with my team at work and I’ve had to have them with my family at home and I’ve always been surprised at how well it’s been received. I used to think I was letting everybody down, but now I see the strength that can come from those moments of vulnerability, and, on a very practical level, how the ‘juggle’ can go from near impossible to doable.
If you don't already know this super cool Australian brand Sage and Clare, do yourself a favour and take a look at their homewares and kid's bedding range here www.sageandclare.com