Philippa Briscombe of little P
‘A Date With Ains’
What do you get when you mix an incredibly creative soul, extensive experience in the carpet industry and being a mother of 4? The beautiful lifestyle brand little P.
I recently interviewed the brilliant Philippa Briscombe on everything to do with business and babies….and when you have 4 kids ranging from 3 to 16 you probably know a thing or two.
This Sydney sider, now Hong Kong resident, shares how being a mum allows her to not sweat the small stuff, why you must start before you’re ready and why you should never feel guilty about being a working mum (YES!).
I’d love for you to read all of Philippa’s words of wisdom in my latest ‘Date With Ains – Babies and Business’ Interview.
Let’s get straight into the questions Philippa! Where are you from/where did you grow up:
We lived in the US a few times when I was a young child, and I spent several years living in Tokyo, travelling across Asia and then during my early twenties I lived in London.
How long have you been in HK:
Almost 18 months.
How many kids do you have + ages:
I have 4 kids. A boy, Sam – 16 years, and 3 girls. Charlotte (14), Arabella (12) and Phoebe (3).
How long have you been in business :
little P was launched in Australia just over two years ago, and our brand has been stocked internationally including in Barneys New York since last year.
Tell us about your path into entrepreneurship….
Having my own business is something that I always had in mind.
I used to think that I had to wait until everything was 100% ready before starting. But the reality is that there is no perfect time and you will never be 100% ready.
In the end, circumstance forced me to focus. My last employer (when I was pregnant with Phoebe) was inflexible with working hours. In the end it was the push i needed to start something of my own.
One part of our company – The Palmer Studio – is a bespoke rug business. We work on one-of-a-kind rugs for private clients and designers. This is fun and challenging, with the creative brief always differing between clients.
As a Mum to 4 children I couldn’t ignore the gap in the market for children’s rugs. I couldn’t find any that I liked, everything I saw was mass produced and poor quality. And so little P was born.
Everything we design and produce has to pass the ‘little P’ test. Is it high quality? Is it original? Is it fit for purpose and going to stand the test of time (i.e. the wear and tear of kids)? Is it beautiful as well as functional?
How has being a mother benefited your business?
It’s definitely true that if you want something done, then ask a busy person.
As a Mum with a business, I’m able to juggle (a million things) perhaps better than someone without kids. I can’t sweat the small stuff, I have to get on with things and get them done.
The bonus is that as I have 4 kids (& a huge age span), I have the experience to understand what products are important. When you’re a new Mum you have no idea! You buy a lot for newborns, and yet that is such a short phase. Often those things won’t work with a growing child. This experience really informs my design process.
In some ways, my business is like another child. It needs attention, energy, patience, nurturing and perspective for the longer term!
What inspires me is that my kids are cheering for me and little P and they’re proud of the achievements to date.
Do you believe in balance? (The notion that we can have it all and balance business, family and our own life desires?)
I think that balance is a little bit of a dream notion.
There is a lot of life that is hard work and motherhood is a huge labour of love.
Balance can depend on where you live, where you have come from, how much money you have, who you share your life with and what your goals are.
In terms of where my life is right now, I would not swap it for anything else.
That’s a challenge, though definitely easier to achieve now that we are in HK.
Having a helper is such a privilege. I managed until last year (with 4 kids) without a helper. Being in HK has liberated me from so many of the time-consuming tasks that I used to have to manage – on top of my business.
That aside, I am still pulled in a million directions by the kids at home.
I find that these days, it is when I travel that I am most able to get ‘me’ time. This means, the space to clear my head, to think creatively, and to plan. (I also don’t mind a very long flight by myself and a movie marathon.)
Do you ever have days where you feel that it’s just all too hard? I’d love to hear how you work through them!
Of course! It is good to share those days with others, to realise that you are not the only one.
You can presume that everyone else is living an amazing life based upon what you see on social media. But honestly, that is not reality.
I have learned to trust that if something doesn’t work out, there is something much better around the corner. I do use positive affirmations and this helps me trust that things will work out.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t have a typical day as there is so much fluidity in what I am doing.
I usually tackle emails first while I’m having breakfast, and write a to do list.
My days vary so much. I can be working creatively, on customising a little P rug or on a new bespoke rug design. Or I could be doing more strategic or administrative tasks.
As a small business owner I wear many (and all) hats. And I have to work flexibly, especially with time differences and international clients.
The best part of any day is seeing the end result of a design and a happy client. The absolute best part is when the same client loves what we have created so much that they come back to order more!
Any tips for overcoming or working with ‘mum guilt?’
I have discovered that as my kids get older, they tend to make me feel more guilty in ways that a 3 year old can’t express! They may spend a lot of time in their rooms, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want you close by.
At the end of the day, kids will always make you feel guilty. That’s what they do.
You need to make time to bond. To spend time with each other, to play games, to catch up over dinner, weekend walks and family holidays.
Finish this sentence: everything changed for me when….
I started to believe in myself.
My words of advice for women who are juggling motherhood and business would be….
Both motherhood and business are journeys. They are also a labour of love.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, pick your fights, hold true to your values and don’t ever feel guilty. Kids will make you feel guilty enough!
(P.S. If you are in HK then be really grateful for the support that is possible with a Helper.)
What’s next for you and your business? What are you working on?
We have recently launched a new range of flatweave rugs, and decor products.
As well as promoting these we are growing our wholesale business. Our focus has been further afield, but we are keen to build our brand in Hong Kong and the rest of Asia.
Philippa Briscombe is the founder and creative director of little P, a lifestyle brand that creates beautiful handcrafted textiles for little people.
Little P specialises in crafting hand tufted and flat weave rugs as well as quality décor that infuse beauty and good design, ensuring each little P product will survive frequent use….by little people!
Originally from Sydney, Philippa has lived in the U.S., Japan and the U.K. and is now residing in Hong Kong with her husband, four children and a dog named Bowie. You can take a look at little P’s vibrant collection and follow Philippa and her work on Facebook and instagram.
You can read more ‘A Date With Ains’ Interviews here!