“A king-size bed is a must, it’s top of the shopping list for the new house. Sleep is really important, good curtains to block out light – and big windows to let in the morning light.” Ian Harkin, co-founder of Lottie Dolls, talks mornings with his wife and their 10-month-old son…
Ian, 43, is the owner of Arklu, a doll company (who make Lottie Dolls) based in Letterkenny, Donegal, north-west Ireland. He is married to Sofia, who is from Columbia, and they have a 10-month-old baby Henri.
What time are you up in the morning?
Currently I’m up at 2am, 6am and 7.30am, I do night time duty with Henri and we seem to back where we were five months ago in terms of his sleeping routine.
And what time have you usually gone to bed?
We aim to go to bed for 10 and it’s unusual we are in bed after 11, apart from weekends – where you end up staying up later, thinking you can lie in the next day and catch up but then wake up the same time as Henri’s routine dictates the weekends, too.
What’s the minimum amount of sleep you need each night?
I need minimum seven hours, ideally it’s nine.
What wakes you up in the morning?
I use my mobile, which is not good as it’s often the last thing I check and the first thing I look at in the morning and sometimes during the night. Our products are manufactured in China and a big part of our sales are in America, so there is always something to catch up on at all times of the day.
How do you feel?
We got married only a few weeks ago so family life is still on a high. We are heading into our busiest time of year and some amazing opportunities are surfacing, which can be distracting when the focus needs to be on sales. So yeah, life is good.
I don’t think I can drop the checking emails as it’s pretty important, maybe reading the newspapers after can be cut out
Would you describe yourself as a ‘morning person’?
I don’t mind getting up at night for the kid, but the 7.30 alarm always seems to come too soon. Though by the time I’m in the office I’m normally OK.
What do you first do upon waking?
I check emails as China has been running for a number of hours and our warehouse in LA finishes after I go to bed. So I just do a quick check on emails before getting up.
Do you incorporate exercise into your morning routine?
I had been getting up for morning runs (half an hour earlier) before the wedding and hopefully I’ll get into that routine again soon.
Tea, coffee, juice, other…?
Do you eat breakfast, and if yes – what do you eat?
It changes every day. empanada’s (cheese and ham), arepas (meat inside), scrambled eggs (with corn and ham), Irish breakfast (once a week), porridge with nuts and seeds, on Sundays I cook pancakes – normally with fresh Mango.
How long do you spend getting ready?
Our nanny arrives at 8.45, so an hour and 15.
How do you choose what to wear each day?
It depends on what’s happening but it’s generally smart casual. If there is any press stuff happening I try make sure I’m wearing something made in Donegal.
We are very fortunate to be living in such an amazing part of the world: mountains, forest parks, beaches all within a 20-minute drive
Where is your office?
We have an office five minutes from the house, I normally get back around 6.30 and get another few hours work done after Henri goes to bed at 8.
How might the rest of your morning pan out?
We go home every day for lunch. My wife, Sofia, works in the business too for a half day, she manages all of our logistics and distributors having worked for large automotive multinationals in Mexico in similar positions. Sofia cooks dinner the night before and we reheat it for lunch. It’s great to spend a half hour with the kid and unwind before getting back into it.
Tell us about Lottie Dolls…
Lottie came about because at the time, five years ago, when I lived in London, I had six nieces and didn’t feel comfortable gifting them any of the dolls that were on the market. The options were either pink princesses or ones that looked like vampires. From speaking to friends they felt the same, so we started with focus groups and then my business partner came across an article by a Dr Margaret Ashwell who discovered that playing with dolls affected girls perception of their own body image.
We observed that all of the dolls were based on adults and none were based on children, so we decided to base Lottie on a nine-year-old and sculpt her body on the average proportions of a nine-year-old child (proportions provided by Professor David Mc Carthy, London Metropolitian University). Her head is slightly larger to allow for hair play. By basing Lottie on a child we were immediately able to get around all of the issues parents had and also address the issues kids pointed out.
Lottie is relatable, she is wearing the clothes a kid wears, doing the activities a kid does, she doesn’t wear makeup, jewellery or high heals, she is outdoors generally having fun on her adventures. We developed the doll further through the years to develop interests in STEM subjects, and Stargazer Lottie ended up travelling with Tim Peake to the International Space Station for 264 days.
Fossil Hunter Lottie has been on all of the major archaeological digs that are currently taking place, developed in partnership with Trowel Blazers – a group of female only palaeontologists and archaeologists working in the National History Museums in the UK and USA.
We look to empower kids, and earlier this year we decided that all of the Lottie Dolls we develop will be inspired by ideas sent to us by kids. To date, eight of our dolls have had contributions sent to us by kids.
What do your weekend mornings look like?
In the summer we try to get out every weekend, finding new places, going for a drive, eating out or visiting family. We are very fortunate to be living in such an amazing part of the world: mountains, forest parks, beaches all within a 20-minute drive.
If you could design your dream morning routine, what would it be/include?
We’ve been renting since we returned to Donegal so there is a longing to have our own space and garden. Ideally, I’d like to live by the sea and get out for a run every morning on a beach or shore walk. Then have a coffee and breakfast before heading off to work.
Any other thoughts on mornings/your morning routine?
A king-size bed is a must, it’s top of the shopping list for the new house. Sleep is really important, good curtains to block out light – and big windows to let in the morning light. When we’re awake, it’s bright and airy – and when we’re asleep, it’s dark and cosy. Ideally no phones in the room or led lights flashing. A big shower is a must. I don’t think I can drop the checking emails as it’s pretty important, maybe reading the newspapers after can be cut out – and sticking rigidly to the exercise plan.
If you’d like to share your morning routine, get in touch: email@example.com.