Sisters in law Helen Brimacombe and Claire Carlile are proving family ties can be the perfect foundations for a unique business, built lovingly and creatively.
We caught up with the founders of a new children’s nightwear brand, Lister & Bruce.

Few women would dare to suggest that they haven’t in some way been ‘changed’ by the onset of motherhood.

Whether it prompted them to become more patient, less self-focused, or just plain busy – the vast majority would say it has a profound and life altering impact.

For some, however, it also plays into a new or previously neglected sense that their contribution to the world might be more unique, significant, and self-propelled.

Helen Brimacombe is your perfect example of that.

She’s the kind who has worked her socks off in her fast-paced career since the day she emerged from university.

She’s the kind who has always expected the very best of herself – and delivered it too.

But then comes a point where, juggling family, accepting you have another role in the universe, still being that over-achieving motivated professional….suddenly you’re aware you’re just not that darned happy.

“I loved my job for a long time, and got a great thrill out of that ‘big brand’ marketing world and its pace and potential,” she says, chirpily.

“But there’s definitely a point, a point where several things collide and you start realising that change has got to come.

“Frankly, I’d become miserable. I was managing lots of staff, working ever longer hours, not spending time with the children in the way I felt I should.

“Then, the real turning point came when my husband’s father died. It made me stop and think about the rollercoaster I was on.

“I knew that pretty soon after that I would be looking to leave my job.”

Helen, 37, and mum to Charlie and Darcey, took the bold exit from her career in the summer of 2017, and whilst she may have had an inkling that she wanted to ‘start something brave’ of her own making, she initially vowed simply to enjoy the summer with her family.

It was a respite which did the trick, but it didn’t make the thought of ploughing back into a corporate world any easier.

In fact, it convinced her that it was time to travel a new path.

“I’d always wanted to do something for myself, but just not had the guts,” she admits.

“I began chatting more to my sister-in-law Claire – who lives in Dubai – about the fact I wanted to create something, but hadn’t really decided what that might be.

“She too, was keen to try something different and to give a business a shot with me.

“We knew we wanted to create something with children at the core, and my mother in law (Claire’s mum) has made so many wonderful fabric toys and clothes for our children over the years.

“This really was the inspiration for us starting Lister & Bruce.”

The company’s name indeed gives a nod to that backstory.

Lister is the maiden name of Janet (Claire’s Mum) and Bruce is Helen’s Mum’s maiden name.

What followed was an exploration of product possibilities, and investigation into what unique options there might be for a company concept such as theirs.

The answer, it transpired, was to lay in nightwear….with a quirky twist.

“As parents ourselves, Claire and I have purchased countless pairs of pyjamas for our own children and also as gifts for friend’s children. There’s nothing nicer than children all clean from their bath, snuggling up to you in a beautiful pair of soft pyjamas ,” explains Helen.

“We investigated a lot of sleepwear products and came up with the idea that our pyjamas could also play a role in encouraging independent dressing….simply by having matching cuffs on the wrist and ankle.”

The women conceived the idea of the MyJamas range, complete with what they refer to as ‘clever cuffs’.

In essence, each sleepwear set has coloured matching ankle and wrist cuffs on the left and right, encouraging a child to learn for themselves which way the pyjamas should be worn.

It was a simple take on an item of clothing which we’ve all been dressing children in for years, but one which created a perfect USP.

“It was really exciting to come up with something so simple, and yet so obviously helpful as an aid to both parents and children,” she continues.

“We’re not here preaching that we are teaching children how to dress themselves, but we do very much believe that helping them with independent dressing can be a great thing.

“It creates that confidence boost for a child, right as they’re about to settle into bed at the end of their day.”

In fact, you needn’t just take Helen’s word that it’s a great idea.

In recent weeks, Lister & Bruce has received acknowledgment from sleep expert and best-selling author, Alison Scott-Wright.

The writer of the Sensational BabySleep Plan, she’s commended the new product range and said “MyJamas are such a simple but genius design, made from organic, super soft cotton.

“They can genuinely help promote independence and confidence in your child as whilst putting on the pyjamas after bath, they will also learn their left from right due to the unique & different coloured cuffs on the MyJamas range.

“Going to bed feeling empowered by their achievement will only help your child feel calmer and more easily able to settle for the night.

It’s a hugely rewarding and exciting endorsement for the two Mums at this early stage in the business, given the range only formally made it into the wider world at the turn of this year.

But the commendations don’t stop at expert level. Parents purchasing the pyjamas have been delivering five-star verdicts with great enthusiasm.

“We’re so delighted with how people have reacted to the first of our product ranges,” Helen enthuses.

“It feels like it’s been something of an incredible whirlwind, given that we only had our first designs created last May, secured our supplier in Portugal in July, and now here we our with our own brand of organic sleepwear.

“We know that there’s a long road ahead in terms of increasing awareness and sales potential, but we’re seeing good traction on our website, and we’re doing well through the trading platform called All By Mama.

“Close to where I live in Leeds, we’ve also now been taken on by a small boutique, who love our range.

“Hopefully more stores like that will be keen to stock our MyJamas throughout the UK as we move further into 2019 and unveil other product plans for Lister & Bruce.”

Whilst Helen – and her sister-in-law – have no illusions about the potential problems, pitfalls and pains of growing their own brand, they’re also wholly committed to this as their future.

And, most importantly…they’re absolutely sure it’s the right work and lifestyle ‘balanced choice’ for them.

“Don’t get me wrong, you work incredibly hard when you’re growing your own business, and my brain is always on the go, thinking about other ways of improving what we’re doing,” says Helen.

“But this is something we’re doing on our own terms, and with great joy and excitement.

“These days, although I’m very proud of the career I had previously, I’m even more proud that if my daughter comes home from school and asks if I can be the Mummy to go on their class trip, then I can absolutely say yes and not feel guilt about it.

“Life is about more than just climbing a career ladder. It’s taken a while, but I’ve discovered there’s so many more ways of feeling rewarded and content. I feel I’ve got a lovely balance and I’m sure that joy plays a part in making me even more creative for Lister & Bruce.”

For more information about Lister & Bruce, go to www.listerandbruce.com or follow on Instagram and Facebook @listerandbruce
We’re delighted to be able to extend a discount to Eloquently Her readers, of 10% off for all Lister & Bruce purchases made before 31st May 2019.
To take advantage of this offer, simply use the promotional code Eloquentlyher10 at checkout