My Early Hour: Fiona Chow, Co-founder of Avery Row

Fiona Chow, Avery Row

“We met working in New York and had been inspired by designs and interiors from our various stints abroad, but found it hard to recreate them back home when we were decorating our own houses or kids’ bedrooms.” Design-led textiles company Avery Row was soon born…

Fiona Chow, 38, lives in London with her husband and daughter Zoe, six months.

What’s your home like?
I live in a tall narrow townhouse in London, which involves a lot of stairs. It’s great for keeping fit, but super annoying when you can’t remember where you left your phone.

What time are you up in the morning?
Around 7-7.30am.

What wakes you up?
Zoe, she likes to blow super loud raspberries when she wakes up each morning.

How do you feel?
Tired, I’ve never been a morning person and adapting to become one since having a baby is tough.

What do you do first thing?
Have a cup of tea whilst checking my phone for emails and Instagram.

In three words, describe mornings in your home?
Busy, efficient and happy (Zoe is usually in the best mood when she wakes up in the morning which is infectious).

What’s for breakfast?
Granola, yogurt and berries.

How might the rest of your day pan out?
I am obsessed with an orderly home so I always make sure all the dishes are done, laundry is on, and tidy the bedrooms before I can start the day properly. It may sound like a lot of work, but between my husband and I we have the morning routine perfected for now.

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Then it’s a combination of keeping Zoe happy and engaged while she is awake and working during her naps. Luckily she is a good sleeper. On the days I don’t work at the same location as my business partner Helen, we always have a long call each morning to work down our to do list. These days work will filter into the evening after Zoe has gone to sleep as she getting more active during the day.

What’s your workspace like?
I work on the large dining table in my kitchen. It’s been the Avery Row HQ since we started. Every now again I pile up and push everything to one side so I can actually use it for eating.

Where is the baby when you’re working?
Chilling out on her playmat or bouncy chair with various teething toys next to me, napping or in the buggy on a walk. It’s amazing the amount of work that can be completed on your phone while taking the baby for a walk.

Tell us about your business…
The idea to start Avery Row with Helen was borne out of our love of textiles and wanting to create a certain look and feel that we both loved – soft geometric patterns in a colourful but calm palette.

We met over 13 years ago working in New York and had been inspired by designs and interiors from our various stints abroad, but found it hard to recreate them back home when we were decorating our own houses (nine house moves between us on our last count), or kids’ bedrooms.

We brainstormed for products we thought our prints would be perfect for and what we felt was missing in the market. Then we launched Avery Row in November 2015 with our Go Everywhere Mat.

What’s the greatest challenge when running your own business?
Learning to switch off when you need to. With everything being accessible from your phone nowadays it’s really easy to just keep going 24/7.

What makes it all worthwhile?
Messages from happy customers telling you how much they love your products. Part-time or flexible working would not have been an option if I had gone back to my previous job in the city. I love what I do and I am able to decide when I work.

Are there aspects of the production that you delegate to others?
Helen and I both started out as chartered accountants and surprisingly we find the creative side a lot easier than the accounts side. Our finance background does help though as it’s important to keep on top of it all especially for a new business. We also have a great PR company who is amazing at helping us on that side of things.

Are you a happy lone worker, or do you enjoy the buzz of a shared workspace?
I really enjoy working as a duo with Helen. We make a great team bouncing ideas off each other. When it comes down to ticking things off the to do list I like to work alone as I find I am more efficient that way.

What’s the secret to career success?
Enjoying what you do but also understanding that it will be hard work too.

Is the juggle real for you… do you find it difficult balancing motherhood/relationship/me-time/time for friends/career?

It is becoming harder to juggle motherhood and work, as Zoe gets older and is napping less, but I feel I have a good balance right now and when it becomes too hard I have a great support network that can help me out. I know I won’t be able to do everything I want to do, as there is never enough time. I just focus on what is important and everything else works itself out.

Describe an ideal weekend?
I find the weekend diary fills up so quickly these days that I love the ones where there are zero plans and I just get to spend time with my family relaxing over a long lunch and walk through the parks in London.

If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow, where would it be?
On a beach somewhere warm with nothing to think of apart from what I would like to order off the menu for lunch.

Visit the website: Avery Row