When Charlie Green, marketing manager at aden + anais, first set eyes on the company’s new office at The Light Bulb in Wandsworth, it was “just a building site, not even a shell”. Nevertheless, she and the rest of the team – the London-based wing of the US baby accessories brand – had a clear picture of what they wanted from their work space.
“We were keen to take some of the elements from our head office in New York, for brand consistency,” Charlie explains. “There were also some things that we’d seen that really worked over there, and we wanted to replicate them. We definitely wanted a separate leisure space, then a breakout space, and then a work space.”
The aden + anais office spans the length of the Light Bulb building, and then wraps around a corner. Originally it was planned as two separate offices – they’re now linked by an arch – and the resulting space is roomy, to say the least. As Charlie explains, “We thought, let’s try and get as big a space as we can for the budget that we’ve got, we can always grow into it…” As it turns out, foresight is a wonderful thing. The original team of eight who moved here from their “absolutely tiny” office in Clapham has now grown to 20, with three staff members joining just before Christmas.
Fast-forward to 2016, and aden + anais accessories are sold in Harrods, Selfridges, and in 35 countries worldwide.
The rapid expansion is down to a new, mass-market range of aden + anais accessories, to be launched this year alongside the existing high-end, boutique brand. The company was founded in the US in 2006 by Australian Raegan Moya-Jones, a mother of four. Disappointed that she couldn’t source her much-loved Aussie muslin blankets in the shops when she relocated to the US, she launched her own collection of swaddle blankets, bibs, baby clothes, nursery bedding, sleeping bags… all made from high quality, natural cotton muslin (bar one luxury line, which features added merino wool). Fast-forward to 2016, and aden + anais accessories are sold in Harrods, Selfridges, and in 35 countries worldwide.
As per the original plans, one half of the office is now “the working side”, where all the desks are located; there’s also a large walk-in storeroom where samples and additional stock can be kept. It’s a decidedly egalitarian layout – there are no private rooms or boxed-off offices here. “Everybody’s in the same space,” says Charlie. “But we do a lot of moving around. We can’t quite get it right, who should sit where! Every month or so we change, and we do the same when new people arrive.”
Through the arch is a kitchen, leading to a breakout area with a large dining-room table. “The table’s a really important feature,” explains Charlie. “Yesterday it was someone’s birthday
so we all had a special lunch, and quite often people will cook things and bring them in and we’ll all eat together.” The fully stocked bar – Friday night is cocktails and champagne night –
is another draw, as is the sofa area, which is where informal meetings, one-on-ones and general lounging happen. Just off the seating area is a conference room, where more private calls and meetings can take place.
But perhaps the place that fosters the strongest team spirit is the games area.
But perhaps the place that fosters the strongest team spirit is the games area. The aden + anais crowd are clearly a competitive bunch: they have a table tennis table, a pool table, table football and a fairground “grabby machine” filled with the company’s branded toys – no visitor is allowed home without one.
So, do all these office gizmos mean all play and no work? Quite the opposite, says Charlie. “This office has made a real difference to the whole dynamic of the team, in a really positive way. Having light and space… Previously, we were very much on top of each other, we didn’t have space to breathe. Just being able to go off and have little meetings with each other, or make a private phone call… Previously we couldn’t do that at all. It’s important to us that all of our staff are really comfortable in the space. We want everyone to feel very much at home, and relaxed in the environment.”
The space isn’t quite finished yet. Additions are being made all the time as the team get used to the space. There are plans to put vinyls on the windows, for privacy (“They’ll have pictures of babies on them, which will be lovely,” says Charlie). Also, behind the bar, there’ll be another nod to the US office – a picture of the Albert Bridge at night, to echo the giant Brooklyn Bridge print that hangs in New York. Finally, the meeting room is going to be soundproofed, in an inspired example of product placement, with the company’s own muslin swaddles. “There’s still quite a lot of stuff to do,” admits Charlie. “But overall, it’s a really nice environment.”
Find out more at adenandanais.co.uk
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