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Q&A with Willa and the Bear Founder, Hattie Goodley

We thought it was about time to introduce Willa and the Bear's founder, Hattie Goodley, to everyone with a quick-fire Q&A. 

Willa and the Bear | Portrait of Founder, Hattie Goodley

Q Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself and what you were up to pre-Willa and the Bear?

Hattie: I live in beautiful rural North Norfolk with my farming husband and three children (my daughters Willa and Maud are 10 and 6, and my son Gus is 2).  Before I got married, I spent several years living in Kathmandu, Nepal and then London, where I worked in the luxury travel industry.

Q What inspired you to launch Willa and the Bear?

Hattie: I'd been on a work trip back to Nepal, visiting an orphanage of which I was a trustee, and I briefly caught up with an old friend who had just opened a block printing studio which immediately piqued my interest. I adore the beautiful mulmul fabric that traditional Nepalese bedding is made from, so I commissioned a handful of Supersize Muslin Blankets, knowing how wonderfully soft they were and thinking that my friends back home might like them for their children. And before I knew it, I had a little business up and running!

Willa and the Bear | Supersize muslin blankets

Q What’s been your business highlight so far?

Hattie: It's always a major thrill when I spot my products being used in public - I have to stop and pinch myself. I also feel really proud that I have built a small business slowly but surely from the ground up and am now in my seventh year of trading!

Q What sets Willa and the Bear apart from other brands?

Hattie: All our products are block printed and finished by hand using traditional, artisanal skills. Nothing we make is mass-produced in a factory, and I have worked with the same female-run studios in Kathmandu and Jaipur for seven years. This means that we've developed a great relationship over time and I know every person employed who makes our products. The handmade nature of our pieces means that we only produce in small batches, so the prints and colours can vary over time, which I think adds to the uniqueness of each piece.

Willa and the Bear Blog | Hand block printed and hand stitched in Nepal

Q What’s a typical day like for Willa and the Bear’s founder?

Hattie: Like lots of working mothers, I spend my life juggling work, children, dogs, food shopping and a million other things besides. I try to spend a few hours each morning talking to my makers in India and Nepal, developing new products and cajoling existing orders along. I now have a wonderful employee who carefully wraps and fulfils all our customer orders, allowing me to spend time on other areas of the business.

Q Do you have a favourite piece, past or present?

Hattie: I will always love the original Supersize Muslin Blankets, and I also adore the monogram Muslin Squares - they have been a labour of love to get into production, but they are currently our best-selling item, so they've definitely been worth it! 

Willa and the Bear Blog | Monogram muslins and supersize muslin blankets 

Q What’s your ultimate new baby gift?

Hattie: We put together a bespoke gift set for a new baby last week which was made up of a bedding set (sheets, bumper and scalloped dohar) plus a baby bundler, coordinating muslin and monogram muslin. It looked so pretty all stacked up, and I would have been thrilled to be on the receiving end of such a lovely pressie! 

Q Anything exciting coming up that you can tell us about?

Hattie: We have several new products in the pipeline. Next up are some very pretty, extremely practical cot valances perfect for disguising all those things you need to stash under a cot.

Q Number 1 mama tip?

Hattie: I’m no expert, but I very much subscribe to the outdoor nap school of thought. All three of mine have enjoyed al fresco snoozing as babies and toddlers, wrapped up in cosy layers during cold months or stripped right down under a layer of muslin in the summer. I'm convinced that it's helped them to be good sleepers!

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