Abby Bishop Clarke was inspired by her children, Vinnie and Brigitte, to start making baby and toddler clothes with beautiful organic cottons. Her company (named after the children www.vinnieandbrigitte.co.uk) quickly grew and she now makes a wide range of items, from clothes to bags, eye patches and bunting. Abby transitioned from vegetarian to vegan at the beginning of 2018, and has recently launched a range of vegan items too.
Abby says: I’ve always been a morning person, although maybe I didn’t used to get up quite as early as I have since having children! My husband and I take it in turns to get up with them so I alternate from 7am to 5am depending. The first thing I do in the morning is make a large pot of coffee. Once the coffee has kicked in, I eat breakfast which is either toast with peanut butter, sliced banana and sprinkled LoveRaw Organic Food Booster, or a bowl of overnight oats. Luckily I don’t have far to commute, I work from my front room. When both children are in school or nursery I start work as early as possible, to really maximise the child-free time I have!
After having my second child, Brigitte, I started sewing. I don’t have a background in textiles, it was something I stumbled upon and found I absolutely loved. Since then I’ve also taken up screen printing and I really enjoy how that involves more graphic design. I studied History of Art at university, then moved to France not long after graduating. After six years I came back and worked in London, in offices, so completely different to what I do now. I found that sewing, design and printing is pretty easy to get into now, even with limited experience. The internet is a hugely useful tool, not only for tutorials, but also for advice and ideas on social media. The best advice I’ve had is if you love it, keep at it!
When I’m working lunch is usually a fairly quick affair, although I do try to sit down in the garden or at the table and read a book so I get a proper – if short – break. My favourite lunch is avocado on sourdough with crushed chillies, olive oil, lime and coriander. Because I’m vegan I do usually need to make lunch from scratch, but find that is a real pleasure. I try to keep it as simple, but as flavoursome as possible. One of the major perks of a plant-based diet is experimenting with new foods and flavour combinations. When it comes to snacks I tend to nibble on oat crackers or carrots with homemade hummus.
One of the best parts of my job is getting lovely feedback from my customers, it makes it all the effort worthwhile. But I love almost everything about what I do, except for the accounts side of things. I’m utterly useless at keeping on top of them and I’m particularly good at burying my head in the sand.
When it’s time to collect the children from school I have a break from work until just after their bedtime. Then I squeeze in another hour or so, depending on how tired I’m feeling or how strong the urge is to binge watch some bad TV! I really try to stay fit and healthy. I’m a member of a local gym which I use a lot during the colder months, then in spring/summer I try to run 2-3 times per week. When it comes to meals, I try to plan ahead (although I fail at doing this a lot of the time!) I love cooking so I don’t mind taking time to prepare meals.
When I was little I wanted to be either a pharmacist or an artist. I guess I ended up being much closer to the latter! If I had another career, I would absolutely love to be a landscape gardener. I feel at home outdoors and despite my massive lack of plant-related knowledge, I would love to learn.