10 Minutes with Muddy Puddles Chief Mudder Natasha Ascott (December 2016)
We love the whole concept of Muddy Puddles. It's such a no brainer that children can and should be outside whatever the weather, that they just need the right gear at different times of year. Can you tell us a bit more about the company and the team behind the brand?
We started on a farm over 20 years ago with a mum in Devon who was sick of her children getting mucky so she lay the youngest down on the table drew round him and made the first waterproof suit. Since then all our products are designed to protect even the wildest children and keep them warm and dry whatever the weather. I have been running Muddy Puddles for the last 3 years and there are now 12 of us in the business who work across the country to inspire as many children as possible to put on our kit and race outside. The whole team is motivated by creating performance outerwear that parents trust, children want to wear and is affordable to everyone.
How involved are you generally with the creative and design side of the business?
Like anyone who runs a small business there is nothing I am not involved with. I absolutely love the creative development of new collections. We have just finished the development of AW17 which is inspired by a beautiful illustrated anthology of poems compiled by Michael and Clare Morpurgo called Where my Wellies Take Me. I adore the process of starting with 100s of ideas and visual references and refining them in to a collection that you get to tangibly make, style, photograph and sell. As an outerwear business then the creative process also has to take in to consideration a lot of practical and performance elements to ensure that our products are technically perfect and really comfortable for children to wear.
Do your children ever veto an idea for a design or style you have in mind? And how much are you influenced by them generally in your collections?
I have never given my children the option to veto a design (I am way too controlling for that)…! However, I think that they are a big influence on the collections we develop. They are constantly wearing Muddy Puddles kit and as a family we really live the ethos, spending tons of time outdoors come rain or shine. For example this summer my youngest, who has just turned 4, climbed a Monroe in the Highlands and walked a 6 mile hike without being carried at all. All of our time together outside means I get to see our clothes in action and am always thinking about ways they can be improved or what else we could be designing.
What aspect of running your own business do you find most challenging?
I feel very lucky to run my own business and really do enjoy almost every aspect of my work. I think that one of the most challenging aspects of running a small business is a lack of resilience when things go wrong which means you have to be able to step in to every crisis yourself and try and fix it regardless of how much experience you do or don’t have. And of course I would love to have an infinite marketing budget so that we could shout louder than all the bigger brands but that is half of the challenge.
And I know that Muddy Puddles was around long before Peppa Pig but do you think you have gained young fans given you epitomize her favourite activity?!
I am not sure… Funnily enough when our customers share content with us they never mention Peppa Pig and before my time Muddy Puddles dipped a toe in Peppa Pig licensed splashsuits which were a resounding failure. Having said it that it certainly can’t do any harm that an awful lot of toddler loves Peppa Pig who loves to jump in….
And then the quick-fire round…
- Surfs up or skiing down? Skiing every time
- Text or call? Probably text but always call to solve a problem
- Christmas or Halloween? Christmas
- Peppa Pig or Princes Holly? Got to be Peppa Pig for her lifestyle choices!
- TV dinner or breakfast in bed? TV dinners are my guilty pleasure and don’t think I’ve had a breakfast in bed since my children were born
- Long hot bath or Quick shower does the trick? A devotee to a hot bath almost every night
- Galaxy or Dairy Milk? Dairy Milk
- Christmas pudding: love or hate? Love!
- JOMO (joy of missing out) or FOMO (fear of missing out)? Somewhere in the middle but leaning towards FOMO
- All you want for Christmas is…..? Snow, snow, snow….