By Fredsonn Silva Agudá with Emma Watson creator of the Little HotDog Watson brand. @litllehotdogwatson
Hello, today we have the great pleasure to introduce to all our wonderful readers, in Brazil and around the world, the lovely Emma Watson, the founder and creative mind behind the coolest and funnest brand in kids' hats: LITTLE HOTDOG WATSON. Emma, how are you? We're so excited to meet you!
-Hi Fredsonn, I’m good, well a little cold here in the UK, we still have snow! And I'm very happy to be able to chat with you too. Thank you! First of all I would like to start by asking you a straight-forward question… You define yourself as a HAT MAKER. Can you describe to us what being a ‘hat maker’ means, other than the obvious? Absolutely, at Little Hotdog Watson we believe in doing one thing and doing it really well and for us that’s hats. Hats are an incredibly specialist area and to design and make them correctly takes time. More often than not they are considered an ‘add-on’ to an existing brand and not much thought or time is put into the fit, quality and finish of each hat. We are specialists and each new range, shape and print takes time to get right. Hats are everything to us!
One of the first things that strike people about your company is your very intriguing name “LITTLE HOTDOG WATSON.” How did you come up with it and what does it mean?
-The name is a play on a familial nickname. In the area of England I was born you often nickname children after food (it’s very silly). You might call your little one ‘sausage or sausage roll' for example. My eldest daughter was the inspiration for the hats and at the time her nickname was ‘Hotdog’. The Watson is her surname. She has a blended surname of mine [Thompson] and her daddy's [Watts]. I like the fact that name is very familiar to people, a nickname they might have for their own little Hotdog’s. Could you tell us about little Emma… when you were a kid… did you always like hats? Were you a creative child who was also interested in the world of fashion and design? Ah, yes! Little Emma was really and still is very creative. Always dressing up and making clothes or sat next to my mum while she sewed dresses and outfits for me. I grew up embellishing outfits, or creating ensembles to wear for every time I went out. I always wanted to work in the industry and went on to study fashion and textiles specializing in knit first. I then worked in trends for some big global brands and eventually developing menswear and accessories. I truly love the positives that the creative industries can bring.
How did life take you to the moment when you decided to create this brand? What (or what person) inspired you to embark in such a challenging and rewarding project?
-Motherhood changed everything for me. As much as I loved my life and career pre-kids I knew I wanted a change and more time with my family. I wasn’t sure what that would involve and was open to ideas. The idea for Little Hotdog Watson happened on our first family holiday. My daughter was 3.5months old. I had dreams of a beautiful family holiday like the movies and actually it wasn’t like that. The sun was so hot, the bugs too bitey and no hat would fit my beautiful big headed baba. I ended up staying inside. I thought I know I can make a hat that makes getting outside easier. I bought the URL for the website on that holiday and the rest is history.
Can you tell us how your company started and evolved? I see that you guys sell hats all over the globe. How does that make you you feel? Are you proud to see kids from all 'walks of life' wearing your hat designs?
-From that holiday I set about researching, speaking to families, kids and developing the hats. A year later I launched. The business is still very much myself and the kids at the heart of it. But nearly 5 years on I do have some more help with packing orders and a few other things. The aim from the beginning has always been about making it easier for families to get out and about more stylish and less stressful. I believe there are so many benefits for children and families to get outside from the vitamin d to becoming more empathetic from exploring and understanding their world. My favourite part of the business is seeing the hats out on their adventures all over the world. Little Hotdog Watson might be a family business but it’s not about my family it’s about family and being able to share little snippets of family life from around the world is so important to me.
A beautiful thing about LITTLE HOTDOG WATSON is that you guys have a different way to connect with the clients. You sometimes send out pieces to real families so that the kids get to try them out, and see how they work in real life. Can you tell us about that? What are the benefits of this approach?
-Good design in my opinion is something that is functional and looks good. In order to know if something really works I test and test and test all our designs again. Little Hotdog Watson isn’t about fast fashion, it’s about considered design and style. The business and brand have grown through social media and word of mouth and I’ve always asked the community to test, to feedback and tell me their thoughts. That’s why I believe our products are so well loved. Some brands are afraid to ask what customers think but I believe it’s important to ask and to ask the kids themselves. For example lots of kids don’t like wearing hats. I asked why? With each answer I found a solution, make them comfier, make them temperature regulating, make them fun.
“Quality is better than quantity”. We know that in fashion, lots of companies pride themselves in paying careful attention to the product that they put out there for their clients, in terms of quality. What is your stand on this? And what is your approach towards sustainability, ethical practices and the environment?
-Very important question. When I started researching the brand I asked parents ‘how much do you spend on hats?’ and ‘how often do you buy hats’ and the results were astonishing. Parents were buying 3-4 cheap hats a year and throwing away because they didn’t perform, didn’t fit and couldn’t be handed down to siblings. Our hats are designed to last longer, perform better, aiming for buy less and better. Swapping one hat for four is a good start. As a small business we don’t have the power of some but I feel responsibility to make conscious careful choices. We make smaller print runs so no excess or sales. We produce our BCI fabric in a mill run largely on solar energy that recycles all it’s water. We work with audited factories that pay living wage and we run paid internships. In terms of what else we do the most important thing is we keep trying to evolve and strive to do our best. My ears are always open and I’m actively always working on making improvements.
Emma, you are the mother of two beautiful kids. Would you say that your children help you attain inspiration for your hat designs? How do they actually feel about wearing different hats all the time? Are they even allowed to not wear a hat when they go out?
-[laughs] Awwww thank you so much! My kids are very much at the heart of the business and inspire me every day. I don’t make them wear the hats even when they sleep ;) hahaha!! As a creative I believe it’s important to let children express themselves through what they wear so I let them have the freedom to make the choices with what they want to wear. My little one has her favourite hats and she will only wear that hat at the moment. My eldest likes to wear a different hat every day!! I follow this freedom through onto our photography shoot (pre-covid), I would lay the hats out and let the children choose their favourites to wear. I’m proud to say our hats aren’t labelled by gender and I make sure we create the space for this, so children can enjoy being children :)
Let’s talk about prints. I understand they are all exclusive, and designed by you, correct? And I see a LOOOOT of colours, graphics, shapes... little animals… and they are all FUNKY and STUNNING in their own way! How do you find ideas for so many cool prints? How do you come up with such awesome designs?
-Thank you so much - the prints are my favorite part of the design process. I used to develop trends so I look to see what is happening in the world to get a sense of the moods and colours and then I take inspiration from my family. On social you will often see my girls sat on my knee designing. I’m a doodler often sketching on post-it notes and magazines, jotting down ideas from chats with the girls. Then I work with my close friend (also called Emma) she is a specialist in repeat pattern and we translate my doodles and the girls ideas into repeats. It’s a series of phone calls, late night facetimes and really good fun.The aim is to create something that is appealing and has longevity so that it can still be worn and loved in years to come.
What are you most proud of, in terms of achievements of your brand, other than getting recognized as the “ Best New Brand” at the prestigious Dot to Dot Show, in London? Anything on the personal/human level?
-There has been lots of lovely moments. My two favourites are the first time I saw a Little Hotdog Watson hat out in the wild (on a customer who wasn’t a friend), that was so exciting. The second was when my daughter told her teacher mummy is a really good designer and that she would work for Little Hotdog Watson when she was older. That made me a little teary.
Where would you like to take your brand in the future? What are your business plans? Any exciting news that you might want to share with us, please?
-I hope to continue to grow the brand slowly and build a creative hub where I live. I also lecture in Fashion at a local university. The students are so talented but there are few jobs in the area in the field and I want to change that.There will also be another collab this winter and I’ve got a very exciting Rising Talent competition for new graduates. The first print launching for this spring!!
We usually end our interviews by asking the talented artists a simple question: Do you have any advice or tips for the ‘newbies’ out there who are trying to launch their own brand and make it in the fashion industry? What’s the key to your success?
-This is such a lovely idea. My first piece of advice is ‘Be kind to yourself’. Starting a new business is really tough. You will wear many hats (excuse the pun) and it takes a lot of hardwork. It’s easy to be too tough on yourself and forget how far you’ve come. My second piece of advice is ‘be you’ a lot of people get a bit stuck in a comparison mode looking to similar businesses for inspiration. My advice is to be authentically you, your quirks, your style and believe in it. Great advice! Thank you so much for you time, and please keep doing pretty things for our pretty kids! We love your creations! Thank you so much for the opportunity I really enjoyed answering the questions :)
Interview originally published in the Bahia Kids Magazine Mach 2022. edition.
Find Little Hotdog Watson here :
Fredsonn Silva Agudá
Fashion Stylist & Fashion ProducerInstagran : @fredsonnsilvaaguda
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