Mamas & Papas Store

I was trying to work out the other day why I feel such brand loyalty towards Mamas and Papas. Yes, it’s just a shop but don’t people feel like that towards John Lewis and M&S? It’s not difficult to see how they manage it. Those stalwarts of the British high street have us eating out of their hands with emotionally-charged, cockle-warming and mouthwatering advertising campaigns that, quite flagrantly puppeteer us into doing exactly as they command – spending lots of money on stuffed penguins and ready-made chocolate fondant – all the while coercing us into believing that they’re there for us. Come to think of it, by baby bedtime at 7.30pm on a Friday night, M&S with your Dine in for Two, you really are there for us.

Those wholesome boutique independent labels who wrap their parcels in tissue paper and string with handwritten receipts and ‘thank you for your custom’ notes may be at the opposite end of the scale but they reel us in to the the same effect, making us go back time and again for more presents.

Well, Mamas and Papas may be an unfashionably mid-sized company in this context, they don’t have tear-jerking advertising campaigns and their packaging is as utilitarian as the next high street shop but they have won a little fond spot in my heart thanks to some particular personal experiences, this being them:

1) They were the company to give me one of my first big modelling jobs. Big by my standards at the time anyway which was cicra 2002 when I was at university in the depths of Wales and my modelling career was intermittent at best. It was long enough ago that the photographer was shooting on film and they had me sashaying around wearing a prosthetic bump and bootcut maternity trousers at the ripe old age of 21 long before the idea of having a baby had even crossed my youthful mind. Best of all they paid me the equivalent of half a term’s student loan which I promptly squandered on triple vodka shots and clothes from New Look (for lack of an other options in Aberystwyth). The photos have been tucked in the back of my portfolio until this day because it’s one of the few shoots I look back at from around that time and don’t physically cringe.

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2) Over ten years on, when I was about halfway through my pregnancy, I went to the Mumsnet Bumpfest event (which is worth going to if you’re pregnant and the sort of fruit-size-week-counting geeky mum-to-be that I was) and Mamas and Papas had a stand where they were giving demos of their latest buggy. My demo was given by one of the daughters of the founders who was there getting hands dirty, full of smiles and northern charm and I was suckered right in by the familyness of it all, anything family-related being a hit with my hormones at the time.

3) Finally, their collaboration with Liberty* that started last year has kept Eliana’s wardrobe stocked with the sort of ditsy print dresses that are usually extortionately overpriced and not at all sustainable for a child whose body weight seemed to double on a monthly basis through her first year. Not only that but their clothes sizing is remarkably accurate. I know creating blanket sizes that fit all babies in their many and varied shapes must be a challenging task but the fact that a lot of brands’ clothing comes up small (namely anything produced in France where it seems petite is de rigueur amongst the under ones) makes for frustratingly low value-per-wear rates.

Now I’m pretty chuffed to find out that M&P have got a brand new Westfield White City store opening next week where they’re ramping the customer service up a notch with a personal shopper approach. Particularly useful when you’re diving blind into parenthood, as we all do with our firsts and need a life raft to help you out.

In all honesty, a lot of my baby shopping these days happens on Amazon and is usually a quick fix solution for an immediate problem. I have a host of unsightly sleep aids hanging around the nursery (aka the spare room) that were purchased in the middle of the night in the desperate hope that one of them might help us get some shut-eye. I can’t help but think a trip to an actual shop, especially one where children are accepted, actively encouraged even, and where I might have been soothed out of rash sleep-deprived purchases would have meant I’d have a) ventured beyond the square mile of London that is within walking distance of our flat and b) purchased considered items that were both useful and attractive rather than the landfill-destined, naff tat that I have to hide whenever I take a photo that might be deemed Instagram-worthy on the pretence that I live in a carefully-curated home.

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With that in mind I’m going to be heading to the new store launch party next week for some mini master classes on birthing (got that one covered) and sleep (not so much), complimentary pampering, an Easter egg hunt and story-time with ‘Aliens Love Underpants’ author Claire Freedman. If you already have kids you’ll realise that this makes for a very appealing day out, especially as you can probably fit in a quick swing by Zara on the way back to the car. It’s a free for all and the details are here.

* I filmed a video a while back which included the Caesar print changing bag from the M&P Liberty collection which you can see here and the current collection is here.

 

MODEL MOTHER

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