Folks We Love with Chloe Brookman of Olliella
Who is in your family? Ages? Names?
We are a family of five; our three children are Tennyson (8), Arlo (6) and Nell (2) plus two puppies - Pippi and Digby!
How did you choose your kids names?
My sister Olivia came up with Tennyson’s name, Arlo we named after a singer that we love, and Nell was named after a trivial pursuit game where her namesake was the winning answer to one of the questions.
Where are you from?
Haha that’s a good question! I’ve spent equal parts of my life living in the UK, Australia and the USA, but I was born in England.
I am the co-founder of Olli Ella
What is it like to work with you sister? Are their particular challenges and/or benefits?
It’s a great, great, great partnership - I love it. The benefits are that we know one another so well and have such an honest relationship. We are on the opposite ends of the spectrum from one another in terms of decision making but that makes for a great balance at the same time.
Can you walk us through getting picked up with Harrods and expand on how that changed your business?
We had just launched this little brand as a creative project and decided to take our collection to small local trade show in London. Harrods told us that they loved what we were doing and wanted to carry us immediately. It changed our business in that I think that for us it was a massive boost in terms of how we saw our business, and also it opened a lot of doors for us with other retailers as Harrods is notoriously picky when it comes to brands that it stocked - it’s like we were pre-vetted!
You moved from London to Sydney and then Byron Bay with Olli Ella—What was that transition like for you business wise and also personally? Do you miss the UK?
I think on a personal level the move to Byron Bay has been a very smooth transition; my husband, Charlie and I have always talked about living in a small country town, I think it just happened sooner than either of us expected. We absolutely LOVE it here, we spend so much time together as a family and are loving the space, the proximity to the sea, and our kids are in their element. On a business level it has also been a great move; so much so that we have moved our headquarters here. There’s a terrific talent pool of creative, bright individuals here, and the landscape itself is just an inspiring place to be; theres so much green, and mountains - tropical rainforests and beaches at our doorstep - a bit of paradise!
Where does your hustle comes from?
My hustle? I’ve never been asked that before. I love what we do, what we produce, our ethos - and I suppose it makes our strategy and approach that much easier because we really believe in our products, and in our brand and the way we make our customers feel.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Seeing how much our customers genuinely love our pieces. That feedback, that level of enthusiasm that we receive on a daily basis - there’s just no better feeling.
What is the hardest part about your job?
Switching off from it.
What did you bring home with you from your recent trip to Vietnam? What moved you the most about the country?
We had some custom dresses and shirts made at a little tailor shop in Hoi An, central Vietnam. I loved so much about the country; from the food and tropical landscape - to the beautiful, generous people who welcomed us into their homes.
How do you balance your work life, home life, and time for yourself?
I have to say that prior to moving here my answer would have been quite different; but this past 8 months gotten a lot more balanced, Charlie left behind his busy job in production and is basically a full time dad when he its not building our house or taking on quick jobs for clients.
Can you tell us more about your beautiful 70s House Reno in Byron Bay?
Thank you! And sure. It was a quaint old red brick house that needed a lot of love - and we were looking for a project so it really was a match made in heaven - even more so because we love architecture from the 1970s (which is when it was built). We have had a lot of fun reviving the old girl! We have kept most of the original features, just opening up some of the rooms and letting in more light as it was a very dark house. We reused a lot of the materials in the renovation, and so there was not a lot of waste. We love our home, it really is so very much a reflection of us as a family; a bit kooky, open, light and warm.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Make lots of mistakes.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Not to be afraid of failure.
What advice would you give to a working mom?
Embrace the chaos!
What is your favorite book? favorite music?
Still Life with a Woodpecker (Tom Robbins). Wilco
How do stay connected with your partner?
By both having a sense of humour when things get really crazy at home - laughter is a big tension reliever and we try to keep things light and fun.
What is your favorite thing to do as a family?
Hang out at home in PJs or go on an adventure, exploring a new place outdoors - we are homebodies and nomads - Charlie more the former, and me the latter but together it’s a lovely balance as we are seeing that our kids love both; being at home and playing as well as the outdoors.
What does self care look like for you?
Great food, an indulgent bath, taking time out without the kids to do something - even if it’s just an ocean swim or walking the dog. I also love carving out time to spend with my girlfriends every week or two in the evening.
What advice would you impart on a first time mom?
Things are going to change. Be prepared for the best ride of your life!
Is there anything you wish you had known or done before having kids?
That things weren’t going to be exactly the same “but just with a baby” haha!
Who do you most admire (historically or present)?
contributed by Kacy Byxbee, editor, Your Zen Mama