Fed up with fashion’s “throwaway culture”, Rebecca Attwood began dreaming about beautiful children’s bedding with a fairytale narrative, that could be passed down the generations. She teamed up with an illustrator and Forivor was born…
It’s a magical concept, the children’s bedding is beautifully designed and – unsurprisingly – Rebecca Attwood and her business partner (the illustrator) Alice Ruby Ross smashed their Kickstarter campaign; reaching their 30-day target in just 24 hours.
Rebecca, 36, lives in Upper Clapton, east London with her fiancee Marc and their daughter Remie, who’s nearly two. Here, she talks work/life balance, the environment and working for her “longtime hero” – ethical fashion pioneer Katharine Hamnett.
What time are you up in the morning?
Remie decides mostly, so anytime between 6am and 8am.
How do you feel?
Generally like it’s a bit too early and I wish I could go back to sleep as I often stay up quite late working. I wish I could say I’m a natural morning person but I’m not.
What do you do first thing?
Breastfeed Remie and either hand her over to her dad and go back to sleep for a little bit. Or, when I’m on duty, try and get Remie to eat some breakfast while I drink tea, wake up, check emails, the news and get on with social media.
How might the rest of your day pan out?
A friend and I do a work swap three days a week so I get Remie and I ready and out the door as quickly as we can. I do the morning shift so look after Remie and my friend’s little boy while she works.
We all have lunch together and then get our babes down for a nap and get back to work while they sleep. A quick cuddle when they wake up and then we swap over and I get on with all things Forivor as they head out the door to the park.
One day a week Alice and I work together and enjoy choosing our ‘office’ cafe for the day. We’ve become great friends and the day flies by while we become more caffeinated and plot our next steps.
How do you and your partner divide childcare/housework?
There’s no official division of household chores but I was quite happy to officially hand over the cat litter duty as soon as I was pregnant but it seems to have slowly crept back into my domain – maybe time for another child!
Marc’s always up for a nappy change but remembering that children need food or which way round a dress goes on is perhaps not his greatest strength! He often works long days and being a bit traditional I like to make sure there is a proper meal ready for when he gets back. Cooking is one of life’s great pleasures for me anyway and it’s the one time I know we’ll sit down together during the day.
Forivor: children’s bedding
You’re the founder of Forivor, creating children’s bedding with a narrative. What was the inspiration behind the company?
I was searching and failing to find interesting organic bedding and was also trying to write a story for my goddaughter (still unfinished!). Somewhere in the middle of the night those ideas fused and I woke up wondering if anyone had combined storytelling and children’s duvets. To my knowledge no one had so I started to develop my idea for illustrated bedding with storytelling cards.
As an environmentalist, I believe the next generation need to be excited, engaged and inspired by nature. And if they have budding imaginations for how to solve the problems the planet faces then we stand a much better chance of being able to overcome them.
So the Forivor concept was born. On the daytime side of our bedding you’ll find wildlife hidden away for you to find and use your accompanying Character Cards to learn fascinating facts about them. When you turn over your bedding their mythical counterparts are revealed and the other side of the Character Cards provide their magical powers and storytelling cues.
It’s named after your dad. In what ways has he inspired you throughout your life?
My dad was a complete eccentric with a big heart although not the easiest person to be around at times. He inspired me to play music and – along with my mum – to be interested in nature and wildlife. But probably the biggest influence he had on me was that money was there to be spent and that it would replenish itself – not necessarily advice I would give Remie!
We were always pretty poor growing up but because of this I never let a lack of money get in the way of having life experiences. It got me into a few scrapes and rendered me penniless a few times. Like moving to Paris with university debts and no job. But they were experiences that changed my life course for the better.
Enchanted Forest children’s bedding…
Tell us about the first collection: what’s on offer?
Our Enchanted Forest Collection includes our signature Enchanted Forest design (currently available on Kickstarter) as a children’s duvet, quilted blanket and wall hanging.
All our bedding is luxuriously soft and comes in its own organic cotton suitcase emblazoned with our beautiful Forivor crest. This is accompanied by our Character Cards which provide real facts about nature on one side of the bedding and storytelling cues for the mythical creatures they become at night on the other.
In addition to our signature design we have a collection of repeat print designs in duvets and blankets that follow the same reversible daytime / nighttime concept. They feature some of our favourite characters from Alice’s original illustrations. If we raise enough funds through Kickstarter these will be on offer in the autumn as well.
You launched a Kickstarter campaign and achieved your target in 24 hours… what made it so successful, and can you share any tips for others looking to launch a crowd-funding campaign?
We had read a lot about what makes a successful campaign and had made sure we paid attention to all the small details. We worked with friends who are very talented photographers and filmmakers and luckily Marc is a video editor who didn’t mind us changing our minds a few times! But you never know how people will respond and we were worried whether or not we would make our target at all.
Most importantly, we did lots of outreach to press and social media in advance and asked friends and family that we knew wanted to support us to pledge in the first 48 hours if they could, because if you reach 30% of your target in the first few days it helps get your ratings up on Kickstarter’s website.
As a result, a lot of the support in the first 24 hours was friends and family but as time went on we started to see names we didn’t know which was so exciting. It felt amazing that people we’d never met liked our product enough to spend their hard-earned money on it.
What’s your role in the day-to-day running of Forivor?
Anything from dealing with our production and getting samples made up, organising photo shoots and writing to press. I also update social media and our website, set up trade shows, meet with retailers and design our repeat patterns. I studied Fine Art so I’m very happy to get to the more creative parts of the business when I can although all the beautiful illustrations are of course by Alice!
You’re passionate about the environment and protecting it – where are Forivor products made, and what green initiatives have you implemented?
We wanted to move away from throwaway culture that is extremely wasteful and damaging to our planet and instead create heirloom bedding that can be handed down from one generation to the next. Most people remember their childhood duvets and we hope children who use Forivor’s bedding will be excited to see their children enjoying its magic too.
Forivor’s bedding is all produced in India. The cotton is rain-fed and produced without the use of toxic pesticides that are harmful to human health and wildlife. The small farming co-operatives that produce the cotton benefit from a higher price point which supports them and their families livelihoods. The people who work in the factory where the cotton is then ginned and spun into yarn and cut and sewn into our bedding are all paid a fair wage for their labour.
The suitcase that our bedding comes in is to reduce waste packaging and can be used for play or as a sleepover bag. It could also be used to pack the bedding away again until another generation need it.
In the future I would like to see us collaborating with different organisations and companies to help raise awareness of environmental issues – there are lots of ideas but for now we need to concentrate on getting ourselves properly in business. We’ll also be donating a percentage of our profits to an environmental charity.
Where were you working before setting up your own business?
I spent six years at the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) as executive assistant and then deputy director. It was my dream job and a fantastic organisation working for very inspiring founding directors. Prior to that I was lucky enough to work for my longtime hero and ethical fashion pioneer Katharine Hamnett.
What made you decide to go at it alone?
It was with great reluctance that I decided not to return to EJF after having Remie but it was a classic tale of not being ready to give up spending time with her combined with wanting to pursue the Forivor concept to see if I could make a success of it.
How do you find it, dividing your time between work and family?
I was probably a fairly efficient worker already but becoming a mum has definitely increased my efficiency. I try and divide my jobs between those that need quiet and concentration for during nap time, work swaps or evenings and fit other bits and pieces of phone calls and housework in to the rest. We’re also getting married in September so there’s really not a lot of downtime at the moment but I’ve always liked being busy.
What do you enjoy most about motherhood, and what is the greatest challenge?
Their innocence and the magic of watching their first experiences is incredible. There are many challenges, which seem to be changing and evolving but sometimes the responsibility of decisions that will affect your child’s outlook and relationship to the world can feel overwhelming.
What are your dreams for the business?
My dream is for Forivor to be able to fulfil its goal of inspiring children to imaginatively protect our planet. While Alice wants to nurture creative minds and make responsible consumers of the future.
While we are familiar with the benefits of organic food, we really need to communicate the devastating impact of conventional cotton farming and the textile industry in general. So talking about the importance of ecologically sound production and making our business as sustainable as possible are and will continue to be integral to the business.
And for your family?
That we remain happy, healthy and hopefully live in the countryside where Remie can get covered in mud, swim in rivers, climb trees and bounce on hay bales.
If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Too many places to choose from but I’ll say Ribaute in the south of France next to the most perfect river for swimming – wild flowers on the banks and swallows darting overhead. Complete with clear waterfall pools and spa like jets of water.
Any other comments?
Let’s have some magical sleep!
If you’d like to support Forivor, visit their Kickstarter page before 19 July (TOMORROW!).
What do you think about the idea of children’s bedding that comes packaged up with a story-telling cue cards and environmental fact cards…?