This week’s That Mama is Lucinda Mason, mum to 15-month old Matilda Rose and founder of Matilda Rose Boutique (ahhh… the name makes sense now!), which quickly won its way into Sassy Mama’s heart thanks to its fab range of gorgeous petti-skirts, petti-tops and petti-bottoms fit for all little princesses! [Check out our full write-up here.]
We chat to Lucinda about her fave shops for children’s clothes, get her top organisational tips and tricks and find out the secrets behind being a mom-trepeneur in HK!
Where do you buy your clothes and how do you stay stylish as a mama?
My husband Ben literally belly laughed at this question! Guessing that might say it all! I am, in short, a fashion phobic – not very ‘Hong Kong’ of me, I know. Full credit goes to all the gorgeous mums I see running around Central on my odd trip to the big smoke!
I consider it a rather enormous event if I use a hair dryer and put make-up on in the same day! Not pulling the “I am a busy Mum” card, rather more I am a bit lazy I guess. Don’t get me wrong, give me a black tie do and I will throw my soul into it, but the rest of the time I am happy to be casual.
With regards to clothes shopping, I think I am like most expats in HK – I shop online and in the UK/Australia on holiday for my wardrobe must-haves. You also can’t beat H&M and Zara for basics, and they both do great littlie lines.
How do you save time?
I think, although self-diagnosed, I have a tiny little bit of OCD! My lists have lists, every storage box has labels and yes, our DVD collection is alphabetical. You might laugh but this is my key to time efficiency. My husband, works long hours including weekends, so for us to spend quality time together, I plan – there’s a place for everything and everything is in its proper place. If I live like this then it all seems to tick along. Husband, daughter, dog, house, business… Ticking off lists is heaven to me.
What are your organisational tricks and tips?
I think time saving and organisation go hand in hand. Plan, prioritise and don’t put off for tomorrow what can be done today.
Another big thing for me is to enjoy your workspace. I convinced my husband to let me convert one of our spare bedrooms into an office; I had it decorated, installed a fabulous shelving unit, purchased gorgeous stationery and my wonderful Mac… now I love ‘going to work’! Squishing on the end on the dining table or working from the sofa just does not work for me. I need a designated workspace and one I enjoy being in. I need to feel like I am back in a proper work place, although I am next to my daughter’s nursery!
What is your beauty must-have product?
Again laughter, this time from me! But if I have to name something, it would be mascara. It can take you from ‘Dawn of the Dead’ to ‘10 Years Younger’ in a flash.
After that, I guess baby oil is my saviour. Having always suffered with dry skin especially in the cooler months, a good friend recommended good old-fashioned baby oil post shower, pre dry – and it works like a charm.
Oh and for the best hand scrub ever, get a dessert spoon of good olive oil and a teaspoon of sugar. Rub together for 30 seconds, and wash off. Voila!! Hands softer than a baby’s bottom.
How do you stay sane?
BEN. As one of then hardest-working men alive (in my humble opinion), my husband has a wonderful positive ‘it will be fine’ attitude. When we first met, it use to annoy me how he never got stressed, however tough his day had been! I think it has rubbed off on me – a little anyway! He has this amazing ability to make me laugh… I mean who wouldn’t crack a smile at a grown man ‘moonwalking’ badly past your office door! I reckon behind every great woman there is a pretty good bloke hanging out.
How do you keep the romance alive in your relationship?
Pre-marriage we had to do marriage counselling, something both Ben and I gritted our teeth and went to. It turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience; subsequently we got the counsellor’s approval we were not a shotgun couple and we had permission to marry.
During one of the sessions, he said that if you ever have a bad day/week/month (which we all do!), try and remember the moment you first realised you had fallen in love with your partner and focus on it. It’s a pretty handy tip. However busy we are, we always make time for each other. For me, it is not about grand gestures or romantic meals, it’s communication that is key.
Favourite activity with the kids in HK?
Probably an afternoon down in Sai Kung or a picnic in Penfold Park. My hubby and I are both keen for our daughter to grow up understanding the value of money, something quite difficult to instil in HK. We are very lucky in that we have a fabulous park opposite our flat, that’s dog-friendly and with huge areas of grass. We pack up food, a flask of tea and head off for an afternoon. It’s funny how the simple things in life are what we treasure most in this crazy town.
From Matilda’s point of view, I would say Bumble Tots in Ma On Shan would be her favourite place to hang. It’s an amazing indoor play zone, a great asset to all those living in the New Territories with kids.
Favourite kid-friendly restaurant in HK?
Again in Sai Kung, we pop in to Sai, a great low-key little bar facing the pier. It’s not flash or trendy, but the staff are all charming and love playing with and entertaining our daughter. We sit back on the sofa with a glass of vino and people watch while Matilda tears up the place. They’re always friendly and always happy to see us; it’s our little bolthole after a busy week.
What are your top shops for kids clothing (excluding Matilda Rose Boutique, of course!)?
I am a total Seed devotee. Having married an Aussie, my mother-in-law introduced me to the brand when we found out we were expecting, and I was so excited when they opened in Repulse Bay! Great clothes, good price and not-marked up, unlike most imported labels in HK. Other than that, I like Jojo Maman Bebe online – fab stuff. Finally for basics, like myself, I pop to H&M or Zara. For birthdays and special occasions though I do love Matilda Rose Boutique clothing, it’s just fun and fancy-free!
Can you talk us through your career pre and post babies? How did you get back into the swing of things? How did you end up in HK?
I have pretty must spent my working life in Marketing, but when Ben (then boyfriend) got offered a position out here by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, I had a little career detour. I landed a job doing rehabilitation work on retiring racehorses before they went onto other disciplines. It was possibly the hardest physically I had ever worked, but I loved it. Then sadly I got injured and decisions were taken out of my hands, as I was no longer fit to do the job.
Handily my hubby decided to propose, so down the aisle we went and Matilda followed shortly after. So once I had got myself back to a less frazzled, new mum state, we both decided it was time for me to start looking at working again.
What inspired you to start Matilda Rose Boutique?
I really did not want to leave Matilda all day, everyday, so I had to come up with a plan. Over the summer last year, we came back from the UK to HK via Nice. On the main strip in the city, there was this gorgeous baby boutique and hanging in the window were the most adorable pink petti-skirts! After persuading Ben that Matilda at six months could not live without one, I wandered in the door and turned the price tag… 170 euros! At this, my husband simply said no, and I had to agree.
On walking home to our apartment that night, Ben thought I could get a more reasonably priced one when we got back to HK. Sadly I could not find one and thought it was crazy buying one online from the USA, when it had actually originated in China. So I put my little brain to work and starting contacting manufacturers in China… and following this Matilda Rose Boutique was born!
Do you have any tips for fellow mamapreneurs?
The main thing – love what you are getting involved in, because it is a lot of long hours and hard work. I had lunch once with a lady slightly older than me who had been in HK for the past 30 years. We were chatting about Hong Kong’s good and bad bits, and one thing she said really stuck…
She said the thing with HK is that it really is the land of opportunity. For many of us, we are in a situation where we are not necessarily helping to make the mortgage payments or pay the bills, and we have a full-time helper. I freely admit that without my wonderful helper, I could not have done what I have done.
The only other advice I got was to ensure my idea was going to be embraced by both expats and locals alike. Relying on the expat market is always risky but if your idea appeals to the masses, then it has a chance. I have been really pleased with the uptake in sales by locals, and although my Cantonese is terrible, I have managed.
What is the best piece of advice you received as a parent?
Don’t have kids!!! So obviously we ignored that little gem!
Two bits stand out for me. The first one was from a great friend who said: ‘The first three months are not parenthood, they’re survival” and OMG was she right! Sleep deprivation is really the devil’s work!
[Sassy Mama tip: check out our article about hiring a night nurse if you are really struggling!]
The second piece of advice was to never compare and compete. I think a lot of mums get so caught up in what everyone else’s children are doing, the milestones reached and goals smashed, that they tend to forget how amazing it is that they and their partner have created this unique little being. I have done a lot in my thirty-five years that I am proud of, but they all pale into significance when I look at my daughter. Being a mum seriously rocks!
Fabulous photos by Ifat Kafry Hindes of Hindessight Photography.
Check out the rest of our That Mamas here.