Posted on March 09 2023
When you log on and see 500+ new products on our website do you ever wonder how those pics and flat shots arrive on the site? In some ways its way more complicated than you can ever imagine and a HUGE amount of work goes into it but equally it's a process that is quite simple and most of all FUN!
But there are a few things you have to depend upon to get the pics - and these are the things that keep us sleepless in the weeks building up to the shoot
(a) will the samples arrive?
We hand over our designs months in advance but with COVID affecting factories still and many mills and fabric manufacturers closing temporarily or permanently - we can create something quite fabulous only to be told we can't get it because that fabric is no longer available and we can't get a suitable alternative.
So right up until the first few days of the shoot, wherever we are, we are receiving photoshoot samples - at one point, 90% of our samples were boys and we had no boy models - the 10% of girls samples that arrived were lovely but the photoshoot was over in a morning! The rest of the girls samples didn't arrive for almost another week by which time our first photoshoot was over!
(b) will we get models?
So this is always a tough one - we often pick locations that are different and exciting and places that will hopefully make the clothes look incredible. But that means we need to get models wherever we decide to go and that can be more difficult than you can imagine!.
When we do the shoots in California we have a loyal band of parents and children who love to help us and be part of it. But when we venture elsewhere we usually have multiple boutiques nearby that carry the lines and are very happy to help us get parents and models lined up. In some cases we get more than we need....and in some cases we just hit days where a mixture of school/vacation/illness and location means we get cancellations and last minute drop outs meaning we have had a few days where just 1 child turned up when we expected 15!
Largely we get an amazing reaction when we promote the shoots on local Facebook groups but it can be a very very stressful moment when you realise its the perfect day, all the samples are ready and we don't have enough little ones!
(c) will the weather be ok?
Probably THE most stressful of all and the one thing we absolutely cannot control is the blasted weather! It seems no matter where we go and how great we are at chasing the clear skies, we hit a day (or 4) of bad weather.
How can we take a Spring/Summer photoshoot on a beach if its grey and raining? How depressing to look at the weather app in the UK and see wall to wall sunshine only to see storms and torrential rain in the location we picked in the US because we believed the weather would be better!
You can't have kids running around in Summer clothes if its rainy and looks like an October day....and you equally can't let little ones turn blue with biting winds and cold on a Fall photoshoot.
So of course - despite those three big worries we hope you never notice ANY of our woes and whilst we are frantically paddling underneath the water trying to stay afloat - we try to smile and look serene like beautiful swans above water - hiding the stress and internal issues we are facing lol...well thats the plan anyway!
This Spring Summer shoot was more eventful than usual in ways you wouldn't even imagine!
Let's start with our decision to pray to the sun Gods and opt for a blissful week in Cornwall, England. If you have never been then it's probably the closest to California we have here in the UK. Long stretches of beautiful beaches and coastline. Surfing, dolphins, even palm trees with adorable fishing villages and harbours nestled in coves.
The other great thing is Cornish kids are hardcore - they are outdoorsy, beach loving, hardy little things that will happily run around on a cold day in shorts and a tee! Just what we need for those possibly colder moments.
Our house we booked was stunning - a 17th century farmhouse perched on the top of a hill overlooking the ocean and Tintagel castle.
Knowing Cornwall well, we found some stunning beaches and managed to get two afternoons of pics in (on boys - because the girls samples didn't arrive in time) before disaster hit...
In the space of 5 days family issues took over and the whole process had to be halted.
As owners of Me & Henry and Vignette, the three of us are of an age (50's) where parents are also of an age. Both owners of Vignette sadly had to immediately return to the US within 5 days of each other to their respective families and then my father had multiple heart attacks and stents fitted - the same week - out of the blue! Joy!
There was a moment - ok....no lookbook and no photography this season. We will make do with flat shots and no lifestyle. But something kicks in and you soldier on if anything to fill the day and stop worrying.
I am pleased to say my father is fine and fighting fit - he has now had a heart valve replacement and back to his amazing self. So safe in the belief he would be ok we decided to continue only to see the weather for the next week across the entire UK was more like December than June. So after a check on all US locations that could work for a beach shoot....Miami, South Carolina, Cape Cod, the Hamptons...it seemed the entire world was having bad bad weather ...except for California.
Within 24hrs the UK team packed up and flew to San Diego which meant we could continue in the sunshine and the Vignette owners could dip in as they felt able - we found a wonderful house in La Jolla and called upon our merry band of supporters in CA to come to the seaside for 5 days.
What you may not realise behind the scenes is the work that goes into even a 'normal' shoot day. First off, every item has to be unpacked, detagged and steamed/ironed. Just a little number here for you - that's over 1000 pieces of clothes that need steaming. And at the end of the day they need re-steaming for the next day - and the next day ...it's literally never ending.
This is where my fabulous sister Tracey comes in and joined us to help out. Her first time in California and what is she doing - ironing - for hours ...and hours....and hours lol. With a smile on her face! (she was allowed out of course and came to the beach every day to help with the fitting and dressing so got an amazing tan!)
Then the clothes have to be put into outfits that work - our vision behind how we designed the collection has to come true and that can only happen when you put certain tops with certain bottoms and some colours will work with others but not all.
We then have to get the huge piles of outfits to the location - luckily in this case less than a 3 minute walk to the wonderful beaches and mass of excitable children waiting for us every day.
If you have ever wondered what happens on the shoot, parents tend to absolutely treat this as a super fun day out - its a picnic on the beach with toys and blankets and fun with some crazy British people running around taking pics and getting very wet as we allow them to push us in the sea.
It's fair to say we have such fun we make great friends on these trips and they become loyal followers of the lines and sometimes travel miles and miles and hours to join us on our next shoots (we have literally had people drive 7hrs or fly to other countries to be part of the shoot!)
We also have a wonderful team based in San Diego - meet Cameron who manages our baby line ettie + h for us but came out to help at the photoshoot.
Of course - even in California we had issues - this was June...and they have a wonderful thing called June Gloom. This very very irritating thing called the marine layer seems to engulf the entire coastline every morning and USUALLY burns off but for a few days it just didn't shift and we were looking at our weather app in Cornwall telling us it was clear blue skies despite originally saying it would rain for 5 days. You could not make it up!
BUT - forever the optimists - we soldiered on and if you tell a child its a beach day and they can play in the water all day - they won't care if its grey or sunny - so we captured that and accepted this is what we have got to deal with and we are lucky to be where we are and still get the job done against all odds.
What this means is we got thousands of wonderful photos, gorgeous little ones playing on beautiful beaches, the clothes looked amazing and we got that lookbook done, website launched and all was good in the world.
We also gave ourselves a pat on the back, hugged all the wonderful families that helped us in Cornwall and California and reminded ourselves that this part of the job is a very fun, immensely enjoyable part and that some things are just out of your control and you have to just roll with it!
Hoping you like the final product - here's the lookbook for you to click on and fly through and fall in love with (hopefully) - all of these items are now on the website to order.
We are already in planning mode for the Spring 24 photoshoot - we have given in and accepted we go for the easy option of California sunshine again and will this time be popping up for 10 days (we've sensibly given ourselves some cushion time!) in Laguna Beach, CA. So if you are around 5th - 15th June and have little ones that will fit our clothes - then save that date and message us so we can add you to our list! (we need boys and girls that fit clothes 12-24 mths and 5-6yrs)
Here's to the next one!