Samuel and Owen - luxury interior design for children
PUBLISHED: 00:10 22 September 2014
Emma Samuel from High Legh did what many wives do when her husband’s job demands it and stepped away from building her own career to care for their family. Now she’s decided to embark on an exciting new venture
Emma Samuels set aside her own personal ambitions when husband and children came along. But you might be surprised to learn that it was quite a sacrifice for her to give up her career. You see, she’s a footballer’s wife. Her husband is ex-Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers player Jlloyd Samuel. It doesn’t take more than a few minutes in her company however before pre-conceptions about footballers’ wives fly out of the window.
‘When we met I was training to be an interior designer,’ says Emma, who lives in High Legh. ‘But I gave it up to go to Birmingham with him. I found myself a job there straight away; I’d always worked and that wasn’t about to change.
‘As soon as we started our family I said I’d stay at home and be a full time mum until the last one started school, but then it would be my time again to re-enter the world of work.
‘As things turned out, Jlloyd now plays for a team in Iran and as he’s only able to come home every 14 weeks or so, I simply couldn’t take on a job for someone else – I’m too busy running around for the children.’
Emma has three beautiful children: Javarne, 10; Lakyle, eight and five year old Amara, the source of her inspiration for new online nursery furnishings business Samuel & Owen.
‘I desperately wanted a girl, after my two boys,’ she tells me. Having met Emma I suspect she made it happen through sheer force of will. She is feisty and determined, a perfectionist driven by her own firm ideas on design, quality and customer service.
‘As soon as I knew I was expecting a girl, I had a precise picture of exactly how I wanted her nursery to look. I searched for what I wanted, but couldn’t find it anywhere in the UK. I ended up going to America to source everything, which seemed mad when we have so many great designers and manufacturers here. I also couldn’t imagine that I was the only expectant mum who didn’t want cute animals and design that wouldn’t date very, very quickly.
‘I believe that most of us decorate the nursery for ourselves, not really for our baby. We want what we want; we can’t control sleeping patterns, but we can control the environment we nurture our children in. I saw an opportunity and knew that I’d go for it the moment the time was right.’
Emma, having undertaken some considerable interior design projects of her own in the past, had already built a ‘little black book’ of furniture makers and upholsterers she was happy to work with, so as soon as little Amara started school, she set about creating her business.
‘I do all the designs myself, in collaboration with a furniture maker and the most amazing upholsterer and textile specialist. Having had three children, I know all the challenges presented by tiny babies and toddlers and have built safety and practicality into every single piece.
‘My watchwords are “beautiful but practical.” All the fabrics can be machine-washed, for example, even the cushions. While much of what I do is purely decorative, you simply can’t predict what might happen and so this was key for me.
‘I designed a new approach to cot bumpers too. I am uncomfortable with the full wrap-around ones; I think air-flow through the cot is vital. Mine velcro around the bars of the cot, making sure they are padded, but leaving gaps between.
‘Every item has been tested to ensure it exceeds British safety standards. My ethos is that if I wouldn’t allow something in my own child’s bedroom, I certainly won’t offer it to customers.
‘I have bought in fixed volumes of each fabric design. This means that when it’s gone, it’s gone and the line is discontinued. I have tucked away some of each one though, as accidents happen and parents may want replacement items, or I offer a service where a cot-bed quilt can be sent back for enlarging to fit a single.
‘My hope is that people see the designs I offer as there to create a room that a child grows into, and grows with the child. My son Lakyle has already stated he wants one of the ranges in his own room, and he’s eight!’
Emma is possibly the most fiercely evangelical new business owner I’ve ever met, and I’ve met many. Perhaps it comes from being a mother and her children being her inspiration, perhaps it comes from her northern upbringing or perhaps it comes from the need to be as solid as a rock for their children while daddy is away from home.
‘Jlloyd has missed the last two Christmases with us. He’s coming home this year though, and already I can’t wait!’
In the meantime. Emma will continue being sole parent, chauffeur, touch-line cheerleader, shoulder-to-cry on and entrepreneur, juggling children and work and succeeding brilliantly at both.