MEET THE MOTHER: Kat Brown
Introducing Kat Brown, mother of two (soon to be three!) and founder of Mama Brown & Co, an online marketplace and magazine dedicated to helping parents on a playful parenting journey. We chat about children’s interiors that encourage peaceful sleep, the bond between her sons, and (probably) being the only people in the UK who haven’t see ‘Line of Duty’.
“We should all have the opportunity to thrive as parents, but sometimes the day-to-day pressure of keeping little people alive and all the plates spinning can feel more like surviving’.
Kat Brown has dreamt of owning her own store for as long as she can remember. From playing shops during her childhood, to teenage work experience at a local independent boutique, she then spent twelve years looking after fashion and retail brands at ELLE magazine. It was following the birth of her two sons that her focus swiftly shifted. Craving more flexibility to fit around her growing family, she closed the chapter on her corporate life. It was during this time Mama Brown & Co was born.
“We want to help you thrive and have more fun as a family”
Kat’s mission is to help families eager to inject more fun and playfulness into family time. Her online marketplace “stocks playful gifts including toys, books, puzzles, arts + crafts, baby play, home learning tools and décor items; playroom prints, nursery soft furnishings, children’s bedding and unique tableware”. Together with her small business partners and contributors, her “aim is to support your children’s play and development at home and add a dose of silliness to your everyday”.
In addition to the excellent array of items available online, MB&C offers her “community of families play ideas, tips and tools through regular newsletters, LIVE play-alongs (on Instagram), video workshops (on our You Tube channel) and articles in our online magazine. My BIG dream for the business is to have a physical presence – a creative space on the high street where we can interact with families on a personal level, offering all the threads of the digital brand (shop, play, eat, meet) but through local bricks & mortar spaces. I also love the idea of one day holding a ‘Mama Brown & Co Festival of Play’… that sounds like something I’d love to take the kids to!”
Living in Kent with her husband and two sons, “although we like to think we still live in London since it’s only half an hour on the train!”, Kat is expecting her third baby early Summer. Her sons often pop up during social media workshops and videos. Her playful approach to both her business and parenting is evident; “I’m also a BIG kid at heart (never grow up, it’s a trap!), so when I’m not ‘adulting’ I love to dial up my childlike side with them both. I love to watch their little minds and imaginations at work”.
Kat appreciates children’s interiors that not only encourage play, but also help to create a cosy space that encourages a full night’s sleep. Favouring “white and bright in kids décor’, her children’s rooms are playful and colourful; “I managed to re-create a paint effect mountain scene I found on You Tube with some old blue, yellow and grey paint samples and a bit of masking tape in the boys’ room. That wall art is complimented with some modern prints and white bedding with bright touches - we love our Pipsqueak Stardust bedding set!”
“Over lockdown, like many families, we were all at home together which definitely had its challenges”
It’s the lack of spontaneity and the constant repeating herself that Kat finds challenging as a parent but seeing her son’s bond grow as they do is her most treasured experience of motherhood. Lockdowns here in the UK have given her family more time together, and a wonderful result of this has been the way the closeness between her sons has developed. She quickly reassures us that it’s not always harmonious, but nevertheless, when she sees them “playing, helping each other or giggling together, it definitely makes my heart burst”.
With her husband working from home over the past year, Kat has had someone on hand to help with the boy’s routine if she needs to work in the evenings, or over the weekend. As lockdown eases, and her husband returns to his office and baby no. 3 arrives, things will shift dramatically for Kat. Maintaining balance is a constant work in progress for all families, and Kat knows immediately when it starts to tip; those feelings of not having spent enough time with her family, or completing enough work, or taking care of herself all affect her mood leading to the dreaded ‘mum guilt’, a feeling we all know well. For Kat, it’s a case of ‘happy mum, happy baby’, and she’s keen to emphasise the importance of mothers looking after ourselves, “if you don’t work, nothing else will”.
Keeping a regular routine, especially at bedtime, helps to anchor the family. Reading a storybook together (“we are currently loving reading one chapter a night of the Bear Grylls books or Come Explore With Me by The Little Black & White Book Project.”) followed by the family sharing the best thing that happened that day, Kat lets the boys fall asleep with a low light and an audiobook. “Thankfully they are sleeping pretty well at the moment (why am I ruining this with another baby..?!) particularly since we moved them into the same room. We bought them a triple bunk bed in lockdown which has resulted in them sharing the double bottom bunk and spooning each other most nights.” When the boys have bouts of unsettled sleeping, Kat recommends several tips, such as hanging a dreamcatcher and using an oil diffuser (“we like the Young Living Owl Diffuser and essential oil blends”) to help restore peaceful sleep.
When the kids are asleep, Kat is working her way through the Line of Duty box sets, “apparently I’m the only person who had never watched an episode” (don’t worry, Kat, I haven’t watched it either!). While greatly appreciating meeting up with friends as lockdown eases, and having social plans for the first time in a while, Kat is focusing on enjoying some quality time with her boys before her baby arrives. As life is about to get even noisier at Mama brown HQ, “if that’s possible!”, Kat will no doubt take it in her stride, always ensuring her family thrives.