It was her search for soft, delicate, organic cotton clothing for her own baby daughter that inspired Violeta Llano to design and create her own range of fun, gender-neutral garments made for comfort and play. At the heart of the ILO Clothing brand is a desire for a more sustainable future, which is why they create quality clothing that lasts – and with their handy adjustable sizing features, they can be passed on to siblings and friends. ILO Clothing is inspired by the Scandinavian philosophy of childhood where play, comfort, environment, family and friends intertwine to nurture a wholesome child. Here Violeta talks to The Natural Parent Magazine about the passion behind her business, the challenges she has overcome, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
A newborn baby is so delicate and awe-inspiring, I think it’s natural we want special things for them. When my daughter was born, I felt an intense need to dress her only in the softest, most delicate fabrics, so I started searching for organic cotton clothing. It was all in such drab, uninspiring colours, and inevitably gendered. I wanted better: fun prints, gender neutral, long lasting, and made for comfort and play. Therefore, ILO was born.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
I loved making clothes for my children, and found a passion for finding the best and funnest prints. I began selling at local markets, then in a few local shops in Bristol, UK. Sourcing the best organic fabrics can be a challenge, which I love; and then, focusing all our designs on being long-lasting, Grow-With-Me, with plenty of allowances for movement and play is an unifying thread that runs through all we do.
The innovation: What was the biggest breakthrough for you with your business?
A big breakthrough was the realisation that many others were also after gender-neutral, fun clothing; and that the Grow-with-Me design is addictive. The fact that your child gets months or years out of a garment, then their siblings do too, and then you can pass it on to your friends is truly satisfying. I have friends with waiting lists for their ILO hand-me downs.
Yin and Yang: How do you balance work and family?
Having an online business today is the very antithesis of balance. It demands you to be connected 24/7. I find my balance by setting my phone to night mode at the kids’ bedtime, and it stays downstairs. But there is no escaping the fact that you are always thinking about your business – it is like having another child.