They just don’t make children’s clothes, or indeed childhoods, like they used to. It was with this belief that Celia Muñoz founded La Coqueta, the London-based, Spanish-made childrenswear brand offering artisan pieces, made for modern living. Having launched La Coqueta just after the birth of her fifth child, the psychologist-turned-entrepreneur weaves Spanish tradition into both her business and her family way of life. From flying kites on Hampstead Heath, to overseeing a flourishing business, we spoke to Muñoz about how she does it….
What prompted you to start La Coqueta?My background is in Psychology but I have always had a passion for children’s fashion. When I had my first child, Flavia, people would stop me in the street to ask where they could buy the clothes she was wearing. Most times I had purchased her clothes from shops in my hometown in Southern Spain (very similar to the styles I used to wear as a little girl) and this helped reinforce a gut feeling I had that there was a gap in the UK market for beautiful, well-made Spanish children’s clothes that needed to be sold at a reasonable price. Working closely with family-run Spanish manufacturers, I tried all the samples on my own children to ensure they were items my customers and I would love - and also so that I could give first hand advise regarding size, fit and garment care. I opened my first shop in 2013 and La Coqueta was born…Shop La Coquet
Where do you look to for design inspiration?My main source of inspiration is my own children. Having the right demographic at home (their ages range between four and eight years) allows me to find out what children at their age look for in terms of fabric and textures, and to assess the practical aspect for them and their mothers. There’s nothing like first-hand experience and at La Coqueta, we’ve got plenty! The other source of inspiration - and the one that has truly shaped my collections over the years - are my customers. I worked in the shop as a salesperson for the first year and a half and I kept a record of every single comment people made about our collection. All the improvements we make and bring are highly motivated by our customers’ feedback. We are all ears, and this really helps! I get very influenced by adult fashion when it comes to styling the clothes and the campaign shoots - but I try hard to not overdo it too much so that it always remains authentic. Every season my goal is to surprise our customer whilst always remaining true to the values we stand for - traditional fashion, all proudly made in Spain.
How do you spark your own children's imagination?This is a tricky question… My immediate answer would be by not trying overly hard to do so and allowing them to discover their environment on their own terms, without me having to facilitate that for them all the time. My academic background is in Psychology, so during my early days as a mother, I was completely obsessed by early stimulation activities. I read so much about it…that was okay when I had one child, and then my second… but by the third (I had at some point three children under three years) it was impossible to keep up. I was exhausted! It was very interesting and I think it taught me a lot more than it taught my children. We are a very close family and I guess the time we are not at work or at school is always spent together at home, travelling or visiting different places. We are not big on technology at home, so my children play with anything they have - they draw, paint, collect bugs from the garden, grow vegetables, write letters, cook and make their own recipes, play with dolls, do role play, dress up. It is funny, but history repeats itself and in a way, they play in a very similar way to how I used to play with my siblings. Imagination is part of childhood and it is wonderful for me to bear witness to that.Shop La Coqueta
Despite being designed in London, your clothes are proudly made in Spain. Why is Spanish craftsmanship so important to you?Spanish craftsmanship is very important to me because it is beautiful and intricate - there is a whole science behind it that people don’t know about. When we launched La Coqueta, I didn’t feel people in Northern Europe were aware of this and through our business, we are trying very hard to create awareness and educate our customers on the savoir-faire that our artisans have back home. To give you an example, the handmade smocks that we make are made by very small workshops, mainly women, who have been passing on the art and with it comes the responsibility of the secret of how to do it from one generation to the next. It is not unusual to see whole families working together, and this is wonderful and adds to the story of La Coqueta. Our customers really appreciate its provenance and love hearing about the story behind the garments their children wear.
What do you consider most important when designing children's clothes?Three things are paramount to me when designing our clothes- design and aesthetics, practicality and price. In essence it is always my aim to come up with a beautifully finished garment, that is easy to wash and that is sold at a reasonable price.
What’s your favourite children’s book?Undoubtedly Hansel & Gretel. Just like my clothes, I like to stick to classics and I find this has all the elements of a good story to keep my children entertained for hours - just like I used to be.Shop La Coqueta
Describe your perfect family day out in London…Every Saturday we walk through Hampstead Heath… it is a visit we do every week and I just really love it. It’s a time I use to catch up with my husband and for our children to be able to run endlessly without having to worry about cars or traffic lights. We love crossing the Heath and having lunch at one of our favourite pubs: The Bull and Last in Highgate. On our way back, we always stop at Parliament Hill and if the wind is good, fly our kites.
Did you visit London as a child? What are your favourite memories of the city?The first time I visited London I was 17 years old, so I guess I was quite grown up. My favourite memories were looking at Big Ben for a good half an hour and running to the National Gallery to see my favourite painting, The Arnolfini Couple. I was so surprised by how tiny it was in real life, and so much detail to look at. On a lighter note, I remember the first high tea I had with my parents at the Claridges Hotel.
As a working mother of five, do you have any tips on coping with being tired?I wouldn’t say I have tips as every mother copes with things in their own way that works for them - but what I found works for me is to try and moan about it only once in the morning, get it out and then move on with it. My sleep patterns have changed greatly since my children were born and I started La Coqueta, so I guess I sleep a lot less. I try to have a very strict routine from Monday to Friday, sleep well, eat well, exercise and then let things be more relaxed on the weekend. I find feeling that my weekend is a little holiday is a way to feel less tired.
What are your mother’s must-have beauty products?“I love the smell as much as I love the packaging”
Liberty Print Trio Set of Bergamot, Lemon and Fig Soap >
“I have been wearing red lipstick since I was 16 and after discovering Dragon Girl from Nars, there’s no way back!”
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil >
“The smell of this crème is amazing”
Laura Mercier Infusion de Rose Nourishing Crème >