My Early Hour: Carly Hardy, Founder of Braveling

braveling tights for boys

After enjoying dressing her daughter in tights that were both stylish and practical, Carly Hardy wanted to do the same for her son. She soon realised there was a gap in the market for “boyish, brilliant” tights so launched Braveling – selling exactly that…

Carly Hardy, 39, lives in Blackheath, London, with her husband Crispin and their two children: Matilda, 10, and Kit, seven.

What’s your home like?
We live in a late 1970s house down a dirt track not far from Greenwich Park. It has lots of natural light, which I need to function properly. It is constantly messy – there are always more interesting things to do than tidy up, I say.

What time are you up in the morning?
7.30am unless I’m on a fitness drive, then it’s out the door for Bootcamp or a run around Greenwich Park.

What wakes you up?
My alarm. Kit and Matilda have to be dragged out of bed each morning. They are night owls like Crispin and I. No early birds in our family.

How do you feel?
Generally quite good. I wouldn’t say that I spring out of bed but I always start the day in a positive frame of mind.

When working from home I tend to move around the house a bit. One day I might be in the kitchen, the next in the living room

What do you do first thing?
Wake up Kit and Matilda. I try to do this gently by half opening the blinds and chatting to them. I absolutely hate a rude awakening myself, so am mindful to be calm and quiet-ish. After they are properly awake things become more of a mad scramble.

In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Happy, relaxed, positive… most of the time. Things have become so much easier and more manageable since the kids have been older and are able to brush their own teeth, put on their own clothes/ shoes, etc. I found that transition completely life-changing.

What’s for breakfast?
Egg on toast. Or croissants with jam. Smoothie with berries and oats. It can be a bit potluck, as I’m not really a creature of habit and tend to shun routine. However, someone called it rhythm rather than routine the other day and I thought, hmm, yes maybe I do need a bit more of that in my life.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
I take the kids to school then I either head to Marlow where we have a small office or I work from home.

What’s your workspace like?
When working from home I tend to move around the house a bit. One day I might be in the kitchen, the next in the living room. Some days I might work at a local café for a change of scene.

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Where are the kids when you’re working?
At school.

Tell us about your business: when did you launch, and how/why did it come about?
We launched in October 2012. Braveling came about because I couldn’t find any cool tights for my son, Kit. So, I decided to design some myself. Thus, the Little Titans range was born. Sophie joined the business soon after the launch and this allowed us to up the momentum and expand our collection further. Soon after followed the Imagine legwear range for older children and then our Bobble Beanie hats and Longsocks.

We try to bring a little bit of joy with each of our products. I think our packaging is particularly lovely. Though I have packed up a lot of tights over the years, I never tire of looking at the beautiful illustrations on our boxes.

What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Having the headspace to juggle all my thoughts. I’m also constantly clock-watching. The time seems to fly by and before I know it, it’s time to pick up Kit and Matilda from school. On the occasions where the kids are away or Crispin is picking them up it is utterly blissful, as I can take my time and actually finish a task properly. That said I wouldn’t change a thing with my current set-up.

My ideal weekend? A lazy breakfast at home with some records playing (iPads away!), a walk through Greenwich park to the Riverboat, a trip down the river to Southbank…

What makes it all worthwhile?
Seeing that people adore our products.

Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
Nope, we do it all. I share all the duties with my business partner Sophie. We do the whole spectrum of tasks ourselves.

Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
A bit of both and it depends what I am doing. When it comes to the design process Sophie and I work closely together and I need to chat and discuss things. When doing the quarterly VAT return I need to be on my own. I actually get quite excited by the prospect of a cup of tea and a spreadsheet.

What’s the secret to career success?
Doing something that you are truly interested in and love. After that, everything tends to fall into place. I guess it’s about knowing yourself and what makes you tick. Personally, I need to work in a business where no two days are the same and where there’s a mix of tasks: some visually creative, some analytical.

I also think the secret to career success comes from working hard and having a lot of resilience. I am a grafter but am not very thick-skinned, so resilience is ‘work in progress’.

Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing motherhood/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?
Yes, show me a woman (or man for that matter) who doesn’t. In my life, things often get really out of kilter and this is when I have to stop and work out how to redress the balance.

Describe an ideal weekend?
Golly, there are so many ideal weekends! How about lazy breakfast at home with some records playing (iPads away!), walk through Greenwich park to the Riverboat. Trip down the river to Southbank where we’ll have an explore and then watch a play at the Playhouse next to the Globe. Then we’ll get something nice to eat and take the boat home. Sunday would be papers, music and catching up with friends for lunch.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
Tenby in South Wales with my family. And the sun is shining. We love it there. I have a major penchant for fish and chips and the beaches are amazing. My husband’s family has been holidaying there since his dad was a little boy. Sea, sand and salt air, it’s the perfect place to redress the balance. In fact, the British Seaside is the inspiration behind our new SS17 Longsocks collection titled ‘Wish you were here!’. The collection celebrates playtime by the sea – building sandcastles and chasing ice cream vans, lazing in deckchairs and sucking on sticks of rock… My idea of bliss.

Visit the website: Braveling