Sunday 18 March 2018

Fashion designer Heidi Higgins: 'I don’t worry as much as I used to about things in life now that I've had a baby'

Fashion designer Heidi Higgins, who has one daughter Matilda, aged 13 months, with her husband Gearóid Maher, on what becoming a mother has taught her

Fashion designer Heidi Higgins
Fashion designer Heidi Higgins

I’m definitely an easygoing parent

I read all the books before I had the baby and was planning to do this, that and the other but when the time comes you have to mould your routine around them and what suits you — you can’t be listening to what everybody else is doing. It’s a very personal thing and it has to be something that ties in with your lifestyle and keeps your baby happy as well. I’m not carefree but I’m not uptight and worried about everything every five minutes of the day. I’m very lucky because I have good support. My mum and my mother-in-law are fantastic and I have a really good childminder so if I’m away on trips for work, I know Matilda in safe hands.

Lack of sleep is the hardest part of parenting

It’s very hard to work and function on lack of sleep and I know that some people really have it tough, even when the baby is getting a bit older. I’m very lucky, she sleeps all night but I did find it very hard at the start when I was getting up to do the night feeds because I fed her myself for the first few months. That’s very demanding when you’re the sole person who can keep them quiet and put them back to sleep. At the time you felt it was horrific but now you think, ‘Where does the time go?’ They’re only so small for such a short space of time. Everybody says it and at the time you’re thinking, ‘But I can’t wait until she can walk and then it will be great fun’ or that she can talk so she can tell you things. But that time comes around so quickly.

I don’t worry as much as I used to about things in life

Children put perspective on small things that would have upset you before. You look at the bigger picture and they bring so much joy to your world. You can’t do certain things as freely as you could previously but you’re now in a different zone and other stuff, like doing things with them, brings that kind of joy to your life.

I’m just getting on with balancing motherhood and work

A lot of people told me it would be all change and I wouldn’t be as free to go to the shows and the different things we do, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a busier year than I did last year. I did Going for Growth, which is a fantastic mentoring programme. That was my new year’s resolution to myself last year — I applied for it when I was pregnant and was accepted in December. When you’re self-employed it’s nice to have this group that you go to and that you have to be accountable to. I set up my business to sell online and I’m really happy that I did that and the programme helped me stay focussed and keep all balls in the air. We’ve lots of new collections we’re creating such as the spring/summer collection, due in at the end of this month; my City Look collection, which is for working women and we’re launching another which will be sold exclusively online and in the boutique around Easter, which will be more of an everyday collection.

Having a baby means you have to become a little bit more practical about what you wear

What I wear at home is different to what I wear in the shop or in the studio. I’m now a little bit practical in my design approach but I still love my beautiful fabrics and I still wear my good silk blouse if I’m going out for dinner and Matilda will be told to keep her sticky paws off it! But in the studio we’re very practical because we’re packing boxes and leaning over the table and cutting out patterns.

There can be terrible pressure on women

The only way around it is to have role models to look up to but there’s no perfect situation for anybody. I had Matilda on Christmas Eve and went back to work on January 5 because I’m self-employed and have no maternity leave. When I said I was back to work straight away, some people told me they were off for two years — everybody is different and you don’t know how you’re going to feel after having a baby. You may be wonderful; you may have the baby blues; you may have lots of different things. All of this was playing on my mind and thankfully I was fine, but society puts pressure on women to bounce back and it doesn’t happen for everybody. I think it’s important that women support each over and if you’re doing business with someone who has had a baby, just to be a little more accommodating. If they have to reschedule, it doesn’t mean that they’re not interested in what they’re doing.

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