I sort of knew I’d do the career thing first, and then it would happen when the time was right. We had a miscarriage before Stanley and it’s the most devastating thing I’ve ever experienced. So my precious boy, to me, is perfect and my absolute world.
Name: Fiona Burrage, married to Bobby Burrage
Kids (name + ages): Stanley Burrage, 3.
Tell me about you! What’s your background?
I am a tall, tom boy who has a love of Scandinavia. I’ve played netball for Scotland (my family is Scottish) and studied Sports Science before changing to graphic design and relocating from London to Norwich. My intention was to always move back to London but I met a boy, who was my employer and I never left.
Where in the world do you call home?
That would be our apartment in Norwich, it’s a converted factory. It’s been designed around our needs as a family and is my sanctuary. It’s central to the city but still very peaceful.
Everyone’s journey to becoming a mother is different. Can you tell me a little about yours?
I always wanted to be a mum. I was an only child; my mum had several miscarriages and couldn’t carry another full term. I made up for being an only child by playing with dolls way longer than was probably ‘socially acceptable!’ My mum was 30 when she had me, so I had no desire nor felt any pressure to be a young mum. I sort of knew I’d do the career thing first, and then it would happen when the time was right. We had a miscarriage before Stanley and it’s the most devastating thing I’ve ever experienced. So my precious boy, to me, is perfect and my absolute world.
We connected on Instagram and I know this platform is extremely important to you, not just personally but for your business as well. When we first connected, you had about 3K followers – now you have over 50K! What are the pros and cons of being so active on social media and how do you manage these things?
I genuinely started sharing photos on IG to document our life and one day had a light bulb moment. Things just exploded and it took me a while to find my feet but I am genuinely at ease with the whole social media thing. Once I felt pressure to like everyone’s photos three times a day. It got to the point where it compromised my time with my family. Probably around September last year, I took a deliberate decision to treat it more like a platform I’d access on my own terms. Sure if I see a message pop up with a question or problem I’ll answer it but otherwise I’ll reply to everyone when I’m not with Stanley. I’m working hard to automate things so I can get back to enjoying following people’s lives from a purely personal perspective. I’d like to think by this summer the balance will be addressed. We are close and I’m feeling optimistic!
You’ve had a busy few years, launching your business Nor-Folk and being a Mama to Stanley. From wrapping and packing products at home to now having a dedicated warehouse, stockists all over the world and your first ever pop up shop. Tell us a bit about the brand, its growth and your hopes for the future?
Sorry I’ve sort of touched upon elements of that above. It’s been really organic and everything that has happened, has sort of happened at the right time. Being a strategist and planner prior to Stanley, I would have suggested a 5 year plan for a client, but I’m being a lot more relaxed about how things pan out with Nor–Folk. As you say I’ve wrapped orders and I know how important it is to be done properly, detail is important. I have an incredible warehouse manager who I trust my life with and having a good team is so important. My main roles are account manager and social media. And by social media, that also means styling and photography. I really love the collaborations that I get to do. You’d think technically running a business on my own, although Bobby runs his day to day from the same studio, I might feel lonely or lack inspiration but I couldn’t feel more connected or more receptive to opportunities that lie ahead (from my first foray into modelling to being a design judge).
Describe a typical week at your place. What care arrangements do you have and what tricks make things run smoothly for you?
Stanley is up 6am-ish weekdays (at the moment – touches wood). Bobby’s mum collects Stanley between 8-9am and takes him back to hers in the countryside, it’s about a half hour drive away from us. She does that Monday to Thursday. We leave work around 5pm and have dinner with my in-laws & Stanley. We drive home after a cup of tea, usually 7-ish. Bedtime for him is around 8pm. On a Friday, we go for a family coffee/babycinno before Bobby starts work at 9am and then my dad and step mum collect Stanley at 11am. Me and the boy head to the train station in-between. They live 45 mins from us, but also in the countryside, so Stanley gets a good balance between the city and the country. My step mum has tea waiting for us and usually a swedish cider for me around 6.30pm which is pretty sweet eh! We drive home a little later and S is in bed about 9pm on a Friday night. Usually once a week, I will stay at the flat to take some lifestyle or product photos, sometimes with S and with my mum in law, or occasionally just on my own and walk into the office afterwards. I am hoping to take Wednesday’s off very soon and that will be a me and Stanley day only 🙂 Bedtime routine is pretty smooth (these days!) and I’m still feeding S. Not a planned decision but it helps settle him.
Bobby is your husband, business partner and right hand man. What is your relationship secret – how do you balance not only living together but working together too?
We worked together before we started ‘dating’ so I guess for us, we’ve known nothing else. We will disagree like any other couple but I think we also know when to compromise. We’re very 50/50 and are similar and also different enough to make it work.
Do you have any advice for other mamas wanting to start something? What are the biggest challenges for you running a business and being a Mama?
Follow your passion for sure, when you’re putting in the hours, which you will need to do, it will feel worth it, if you’re proud of what you’re doing. Probably the hardest part for me is working out how to prioritise which opportunities to pursue, if I had a bigger team it would help share the workload but then I like to be in control so perhaps that’s not the solution. Definitely knowing what’s right in your gut and being nice if you can’t help someone out is really important. When you realise you don’t have time with your family you know the balance needs shifting! In the main, most people I work with have families, so are totally understanding about my situation.
Stanley has turned 3 and you’ve said he is your muse. How does he inspire you not just personally but in the designing process as well?
When it comes to the fabric and patterns, comfort and practicality is paramount. For how still/calm he appears in a photo, he’s a fire cracker and to allow him to develop/explore he needs to have the freedom to move. He is my muse, he has so much personality and always has. The Play Hard tees were definitely an outpouring of his vigour for life, as were the type face tees. We are about to launch two tees Hey Boy / Hey Girl taken from the Chemical Brother’s but also a reference to Stanley’s cheeky nature with the women. He’s never swayed me with colours as he’s been too little to have a preference but I guess I’ve also chosen hues that compliment his colouring, unconsciously.
You have a very distinct and minimal style. What are your 3 top tips for creating minimal interior magic without the space feeling cold?
Ooh do you think I’ve struck the right balance, I hope so! 1. Good storage and cupboards are essential, we encourage Stanley to take care of his toys and put them away when he’s not playing with them. 2. We incorporate a lot of white, usually with a satin finish so it’s easy to wipe clean but gives the visual appearance of clarity. 3. We have colour, toys and photos to give a sense of personality and Stanley’s playroom definitely isn’t as clutter-less but nor should it be!
As a working Mum myself, I am constantly trying to find balance. How do you take care of yourself amongst the busy demands of daily life?
I don’t think I do, but I am starting too, I’m about to start going to the gym just for an hour once a week when Stanley is in bed. I need just an hour out of the flat to prevent me falling into the rut of either working/watching a documentary that depresses me on current affairs or being sucked into social media and finding myself awake at midnight, deep in conversation. You can always find someone awake to talk to if you want to! 😉 I was really into sport before Stanley and played football/soccer three times a week. Before that netball. I definitely keep my mind ticking over but am not giving my body a chance to move. It’s not about weight loss or really even exercise as such, it’s definitely more the health benefits I’m keen to feel.
I found the first 6 months with a new baby incredibly hard. I felt like everyone kept me in the dark about what it was really like. What piece of advice do you wish you had been told before you had kids?
Totally agree with you there. It’s so difficult with friends who haven’t had children because you feel like you’re being negative. I wish I’d really not taken for granted being able to do what I wanted, when I wanted. I could go away with Stanley factually but emotionally I couldn’t. It’s a weird feeling because after feeding for three years (now just in the morning and before bed) I’d love a lie in or a night off but I’m also not ready to give it up nor is he. So it’s such a double edged sword. I’ll moan but I wouldn’t change it. I’d maybe have liked one last holiday to say Miami to some of the clubs before I had real responsibilities!
What has been your biggest parenting fail and what did you learn from it?
I’m not sure I can think of one identifiable thing but something I know I need to sort out, is to have more time off with S. He is still very much a mummies boy and craves one on one time which we just don’t get. Sometimes you just need to listen to what they’re saying to you, indirectly or directly.
I know breastfeeding Stanley was important to you. We spoke about this just after I weaned Emmy. You were still dedicated to breastfeeding and I was in total awe of your strength to continue when I was well and truly ready to stop. Can you tell me a bit about your breastfeeding journey? What did you find challenging and what made you stick with it?
Yes as I mentioned above, we’re still feeding. My mum breastfed me and I am by no means a boob champion-er, it’s what’s best for you and your family. For me, he latched on straightaway and the only thing that calmed/reassured him was me. I’d literally hand him to Bob as a baby, he’d scream the flat down, then latch on and be like, oh okay – she’s not left me. We are still incredibly close. I think he’s really like me as a person and I always know what he’s thinking – when he’s had enough, when he’s going to blow. I tried bottles and dummies, every shape and size but he wasn’t interested. So I sort of thought right, I just need to knuckle down. I said just get to 6 weeks, then three months, then 6 months, then a year and then I just gave up with milestones. He’s feeding less and less and happily drinks cows milk. He’s not as forward with speech as his peers so perhaps as he still seems younger than he is, it’s not pushed me to stop him. I genuinely think he’s close to saying, no I’m okay, thanks! Some morning’s he’s more interested in his trains. We just use the morning feed/cuddle/movie as a snuggle time before work but I’m close to thinking we all just get up earlier and incorporate more things before we go to work. Like both go for a short run and play with S whilst the other’s out so we start the day more refreshed. The lighter mornings definitely help…
As Stanley gets older, you’ve decided to travel a lot more as a family – what are you favourite places to visit and why?
Stanley has a really short attention span so European cities are the order of the day for now, this year we’re hoping to go to Barcelona and Stockholm. We’re selling our apartment, in a bid to buy a similar property but as a detached house with a garden. As a result it’s left us a little bit in limbo with whether to book something or hold off until we know what we’re doing.
I recently read that you were enjoying all of Stanley’s “firsts” that little bit more because you knew they would be your “lasts” too – you’ve decided to only have one child. Can you tell us about this decision and why it’s right for you?
Stanley has been a thoroughly enjoyable but also absolutely exhausting little guy. I guess not having a day off from him in three years skews your vision but he’s also a very particular boy and his preferences and appetite for life leaves us drained by bedtime. I like to think I know what hard work is but he’s way more tiring that my day job. He doesn’t sit still and keeps you on your toes. Couple that with a little boy who was a dreadful, dreadful sleeper, no more than 3 hours in 11 months, usually 40mins to 2 hours and I just don’t think I have the stamina to do it all again. He’s the sort of boy who would be up at 5am in November (when it’s dark in the UK) and want to go to the park. I’d plead and explain it’s not time to get up and we can go later but he was adamant and if we got a second Stanley I’d be pulled in too many ways and not give anyone the time they need. I suggest to Bobby that perhaps when Stanley is at school but he’s adamant we’re a three person family. We haven’t ruled out adoption though. I just follow my gut and do what feels right. But as you said I am definitely enjoying every shred of him and stage right now.
What does the future look like for you and your family?
Good, whether we move or not, it looks like a fun time ahead. Meeting people, new journeys, lots more conversation and seeing the world through Stanley’s little eyes.
Who should we follow on Instagram – tell us what accounts inspire you and why?
I really like @apieceofcake82 as an account, her styling is impeccable and effortless. I really struggle shooting anything other than a minimal composition, so I’m drawn to accounts who can tell a story with lots of complimentary pieces without it feeling busy.