INTERVIEWS

5 Questions with Aleksandra Zebrowska from Francis & Henry

Francis & Henry’s (maternity) nighties are a wardrobe staple for us Babyccino ladies — pregnant, breastfeeding, or, well, neither! Just when we thought we couldn’t love this brand any more, we met Aleksandra at our London ShopUp a few years back. There was something extra special about her booth — her entire ShopUp team were her (youthful) siblings! We especially love a family business and were so pleased Aleksandra agreed to answer our 5 questions. Read on as she tells us how her beautiful collection for mothers and babies came to be!

aleksandra founder maternity wear

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself, where you live and about your family.

My name is Aleksandra (Ola). I’m Polish, and with the exception of a few years spent in Romania, I have lived in Poland my whole life. I am the oldest of eight kids – I have 6 sisters and 1 brother! My youngest sister is half a year younger than my oldest son! So, as crazy as it sounds, it’s true: my mum and I were pregnant at the same time!

Our family, my husband and our two boys, Francis and Henry, have a wooden chalet in the Polish mountains, literally in the middle of nowhere. We love spending as much time as possible there, especially around Christmas and the Summer holidays. However, most of our everyday life, school and work takes place in busy Warsaw.

My husband is an actor. In addition to his ‘day job’ on set, 9 years ago he opened a performing arts theatre in Warsaw. As with any “own business” this was something we were both very involved in as a family. After a few years of helping with the marketing and administrative jobs in the theatre, I decided to finally shift my time to starting something of my own. Inspired by my kids, my pregnancies, I started working on my own brand, Francis & Henry.

Alessandra mother entrepreneur sibling

francis henry founder poland weekend home

mother and maternity designer at work

2. Tell us a little bit about your brand and how you came to create your label.

As the oldest of eight, I’ve literally been taking care of babies since I was a child. I felt that nothing could surprise me when I became a mother. But, being a mum turned out to be so different than I had imagined as just an older sister. The physical and emotional challenges related to becoming a mum were so much more overwhelming than I’d expected. My experiences inspired me to make something that will support women, especially new mums, in this rewarding yet often challenging moment of their journey through motherhood. I started a small business making maternity/hospital bag essentials for pregnant and nursing moms with ultra-soft, delicate pieces carefully designed to help women feel confident and loved during this special time.

francis henry founder gift box

francis henry maternity essentials set

My main idea was to make pregnancy and birth more about women. I feel, at least in Poland where I come from, almost everything still revolves around the newborn baby. While it’s natural that the new family member gets the most attention, the special time of delivering a baby requires extra focus and care for the mother as well. Even little things, like having something special prepared for yourself when packing your hospital bag, can make a difference in how we feel in that vulnerable time.

When I was giving birth, I was advised to bring clothes to fit my belly and allow me to breastfeed. Preferably old ones, because they would get dirty anyway! Looking back at the photos from my hospital stay, I wish I looked a little more like “me”! After all, these are some of the most important and memorable days in a mum’s life. I wanted to create something that would help women find balance between becoming a mum and still feeling feminine.

francis henry founder designer

designing francis and henry collections

3. Where do you look for design inspiration?

My inspiration is solely motherhood. All the products in my collection are pieces I would have loved to have when I was going to the hospital to have my babies. I remember that when I was pregnant I hated the typical maternity and nursing wear I found. It made me feel like I was wearing breastfeeding gear instead of normal clothes. I ended up wearing things I’d never consider if it wasn’t for the fact that I needed easy access to breastfeed or to fit my huge belly in. I found it so hard to find maternity clothes in neutral tones, free of buttons or zippers, that allowed for easy breastfeeding day and night.

My dream was to create a dress that would look good on every body shape, focusing on the changes and needs related to different stages of pregnancy and postpartum. All the items I designed have a very feminine cut, are minimalistic and neutral in colour. And, above all, they’re really so, so comfortable.

francis henry gift boxes behind scenes

4. What is your current favourite product in your collection?

This one’s super easy, because I wear the clothes from our collection 24/7 – literally! That’s what motivated me to make more colours of the dress and cardigan. I not only sleep in the nightie every night, I wear it during the day – as a dress or tunic. Recently I even wore the black one to a birthday dinner – with a pair of heels. Seriously, no-one knew I was in my PJs! And the best part – I know a lot of our mum customers do the same 🙂 So definitely – still, the Nursing Dress (even though I finished breastfeeding over 4 years ago!).

maternity nightdress breastfeeding friendly

polish womenswear designer

francis and henry founder has fun

5. What do you love most about your job?

I think the most amazing part about creating a brand from scratch is watching your idea come to life and seeing other women truly appreciate its functionality and aesthetics. The amazing feedback from both mums and dads (who buy the bundles as gifts) makes all the stress and worry of running your own business feel worthwhile. Not only do you feel like your dedication and hard work is actually paying off, but you also get the satisfaction of making that small difference in people’s everyday lives. It’s a dream-come-true to see photos of new moms wearing the clothes I designed and their newborn babies wrapped in swaddles with prints I drew. It makes it even more special knowing that these are some of the most beautiful moments of every mum’s life; having my brand be a part of them is a true honour.

Francis & Henry is a much-loved member of our shopping portal. Discover this beautiful brand here.


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