For those of you who trawl Instagram on the lookout for one of a kind chidren’s clothes or bits for you with a focus on shopping small and supporting Mama brands, let me introduce you to Amy Walker the brains, talent and multi tasking megatron behind Lennie and Co.
CMHQ: Amy thanks so much for taking a little time out of your bonkers schedule to have a chat. You’ve just moved house and don’t live on the Gloucestershire patch but you do have a special bond with the Shire…. how do you know our beautiful town?
Amy: I do! I lived in Cheltenham for nearly 6 years and moved in December 2014. I regularly come back to see pals and scoff meringue from the Swallow Bakery!
CMHQ: So then you moved to Devon… at what point did little Lenn appear in your life?
Amy: Lenn was born in the Birthing Unit at Cheltenham Hospital in 2012. So he spent his early years in Cheltenham. Me & my husband seperated so I headed South to be near parents in Devon. Although I had amazing friends in Cheltenham that were my second family, I had no relatives in the Shire so needed some extra support and hands with Lennie.
CMHQ: Tell us about your love for Graphic Design and the point when you took the plunge and set up shop?
Amy: My career in Graphic Design started with my first design job at Reebok in 2008. I have worked for 2 brands since then and still work full time as a designer. I wouldn’t say Lennie & Co was a plunge, it was something I started when I was living at my parents for 6 months and it kind of took off. So now I work every night printing t-shirts and running my little business.
CMHQ: Did it take a while to grow or was it an overnight Insta success?
Amy: I started with one product. My Most Amazing personalised t-shirts. They were a hit and people loved them. Should I still do them?… Yes probably but as demand grows something had to give and that unfortunately was those t-shirts. I would block print each letter one by one, try and do those on top of hand screen printing your other t-shirts and I’d be wiped out! I create each design myself and hand screen print each t-shirt.
CMHQ: We talked a lot at the launch event about battling confidence demons. Have their been times since you set it up that you’ve struggled to be positive about things?
Amy: I tell you my main struggle. Winter. Screen printing in the dark isn’t fun and I suffer from SAD. So I like to be in bed for 9 in the winter… which isn’t possible when you have a business to run in your evenings.
I’m a very positive person, not a lot drags me down. I also don’t have any demons really, other than sometimes feeling I’m not as cool as the other brands I see on Insta but I design stuff I like and that I want to put Lenn in. Items I couldn’t find on the highstreet. I also don’t design for girly girls. We are unisex but we rarely do pink and if we do it’s a shade boys can wear.
CMHQ: Any tips for Mama starts ups who are struggling to get their brands out there? Anything you would have done differently?
Amy: You know what, things take time. People jack in their jobs and head for success. That’s fab and I’m kind of envious at times but Lennie & Co is hopefully going to grow slowly and when/if I do take the ‘plunge’ into it being my career, we’ll be ready. When I say we I mean my business, me & Lenn. Don’t pressure yourself to be an overnight success, sometimes they fall as quick as they grow, so just go with it and do you! At the moment I have a mortgage to pay and a kid to look after. That sounds so un-glamourous but it’s the truth.
CMHQ: And now you’re balancing a full time job, being a single Mama and running your own business….. do you ever feel it’s all too much? Do you have any plans to do a bit less of one and more of another?
Amy: I’m a single parent with a child in nursery (you know the score) so I still need a full time income and somehow find the time to pursue Lennie & Co.
I’m lucky actually because whilst I have Lennie & Co and it is my main love, I also love my job. My colleagues are fantastic and we have a great little team. I’d like to start work at 10am so I could walk on the beach with Lennie every morning but other than that life is good. One day obviously I wish for Lennie & Co to be my main income and job, otherwise I’d be f**king mental doing this every day for nothing!
CMHQ: I know your Mum sews on all of your labels by hand…. I’m guessing your family play a huge part in supporting you to be successful?
Amy: My mum is the greatest team player at Lennie & Co. She comes to my rescue when I have t-shirts coming out of my ears. My parents are retired so they have some free time when they’re not on holiday 😉 Mum does hand stitch every label and helps with the heat sealing part, that happens after printing. Dad helps me with my accounts as lets face it that’d be a total head blag on top of everything else.
CMHQ: You’ve recently collaborated with the amazing Wonder and Rah… how did that come about and has it been a success?
Amy: Natalie and I did a product swap when she first set up (the perk of having your own brand.) I approached Natalie earlier in the year about the collaboration. We were both fans of one another so it seemed a perfect fit. When Mamas get together they can create great things. It has been a success on both parts, the t-shirts are still available through our website!
CMHQ: When do you start planning for your next season? Is Spring/Summer already in the bag or is it on your to do list? Anything super exciting on the horizon for Lennie and Co?
Amy: SS17 is nearly complete and will be our first full range with more than just t-shirts. Bottoms too! I have designed all the prints of course and for the first time we will be adding pop colours into the range. I am just finishing AW17 as we are at Dot to Dot London in January and will be showcasing our ranges there. This is a very exciting time for Lennie & Co.
CMHQ: You’ve just moved… tell us about your new home, is is a do-er upper? Do you like applying your design skills to interiors or is that all a chore?
Amy: It’s a 1970s house up on a hill with sea views. I’m literally in heaven here and finally back on the property ladder. It didn’t need too much work, we ripped the carpets and sanded back the floors. Anything more and I couldn’t have coped. I’m also having the garage converted into a studio! Finally, I can use the spare bedroom for guests again.
CMHQ: Final question… tell us about your weekend of dreams…….
Amy: Hmmmm, this is an easy one. A crisp wintery walk on Dartmoor to then stay the evening in my favourite pub in Devon called The NoBody Inn. It’s amazing and so so old. Cosy log fires, incredible food ended with a NoBody Nightcap (half a bottle of port and a cheese board for two!) If you are in the area you should try it.
CMHQ: Sounds amazing, we’d like to come with you! Thanks so much for your time Amy, it’s been a pleasure to meet you and I’m sure your story will inspire a lot of Mamans to do a bit more of what they love.
If you would like to find out more about Lennie & Co take a look at the website, follow them on Instagram or Facebook. Amy has been kind enough to give CheltenhamMaman readers an exclusive 15% off all stock until the 3rd December using the code MAMAN. Happy shopping!