Nikki: When Louis developed eczema he was only two or three months old (you forget the actual time – although it should be imprinted on my memory) and I was quite unaware how to deal with it, the length of time he would have it and all the frustrations that go with trying to stop a young baby scratching and making the eczema worse.
It didn’t matter whether he was asleep or awake, the scratching was continuous and created secondary infections which then also had to be dealt with. I felt that if I could keep the fingers covered, because you know how quickly their nails grow, this would be helpful.
When you purchase the first sizes of sleepsuits, the hands are kept covered but I found that after a few months the sleepsuits had hands that could escape and therefore scratch. I decided to make mittens that I then sewed onto tops or sleepsuits but the stitching was never strong enough after a few washes and just came away. Also seams and labels on garments also caused aggravation.
As I am a Fashion Designer by profession, working mostly on childrens’ wear for the large retailers here in the UK, I had the advantage of knowing about clothing, garment make up, fabrics etc, so decided that I would have a try at making a prototype garment that would help.
Nikki: There were several attempts until I was satisfied and this is where the covered hand concept for ages up to 5/6 years came in. Although there were other people who had been successfully manufacturing for a long time, because the hands and feet were totally enclosed on my garments I was able to obtain a trademark for my patterns.
The design with flat seams, labels that pulled off, poppers that were environmentally friendly all came together because of my working knowledge. However, this was not as easy as it sounds, it took a long time to get it right and it had to be fun and bright and therefore the names for the garments with the logos had to be designed. So it was not a quick fix, or an easy journey to make.
I tried to get the items manufactured in the UK but again it was not easy, mainly due to costs. It took some time to find a manufacturer outside the UK and after several attempts, looking at costs, freight, minimum garment numbers we found our present manufacturer with whom we have an excellent relationship.
I had to persevere with the business because I thought it was a good idea, it worked for me and if that helped me, there were one in five children being born with eczema, all going through the same agonies as we were and they needed help too. No-one says it will stop a child scratching (absolutely impossible) but if it helps avoid the agony of clearing up secondary infections time after time, because the fingers are not touching the skin or open scabs, this must be of some help.