Alexa Whitehead started tinkering away on babieswear brand Buck & Baa in her windows of downtime after the birth of her second child. She takes a quick breather to talk to Nicky Park about comfy clothes and home renos.
We always stick together on the weekends. We’re a family unit, so if one person has to do something, we all go with. Sundays are very much a family day. If I can wrangle it, I like to take a little bit of a sleep-in. A sleep-in is 8am – or 9am is extreme. We go for walks, we hang out at home. If we can steal some time, we work on our renovations.
I don’t really like big cities. Feilding – it’s nice here, it’s just really pretty. There are lots of trees. The people are really friendly and nice. It’s a casual, quiet place.
We bought this house knowing it needed a lot of work done to it. As soon as they said we’d got the house I was like, what have we done? It was in January last year, three weeks after our third baby, Ezra, was born. I think your priorities change and you realise what you’ve got going on doesn’t really work for you any more. Our last house, the layout just wasn’t right and I never wanted to stay there.
I’m never going to do a renovation again.
My husband, Ben, really likes doing it. He likes doing all the bits and pieces but I don’t like the fact that it takes years, so hopefully by the end of this year we’ll have it finished – which will mark two years. We always toy with going on another adventure or moving somewhere. But I think, once this is finished, I want to enjoy it for a little bit.
I started Buck & Baa after my second kid was born over in Australia in March 2015. When Holly was about 5 months old, I got a little bit bored at home. My eldest, Sam, had started kindy, so it was just her at home. I had an extra room with my sewing machine and I just made little merino beanies and little moccasins, so it was all handmade whenever I had time to make stuff.
Girls’ clothing especially really bothered me. I find it hard to buy stuff for Holly (now 3½) because I don’t like all the big bright prints and the glitter and the frills and stuff like that. I just wanted to do nice neutrals, nice prints, I wanted to have my little drawings on them. Simplicity. I’ve always had a philosophy of:
“Girls’ clothing bothered me... I don’t like all the big bright prints and the glitter and the frills and stuff like that.”
if I like it, if I’m going to dress my children in it, then obviously other people out there are going to like the same sort of stuff.
Kids are kids. Holly does handstands and rolls around – everything that she wears needs to be comfortable. So I do have to make dresses for the girls who like to be girly, but in terms of Holly, she just wants to wear comfy pants and T-shirts. She’s always been like that, so I will continue to do that. I think kids just need to be able to do what they need to do and be comfortable. It’s all about practicality.
I’ll buy something for myself purely because it looks comfy and it’s easygoing and not expensive.
If I’m shopping for my kids, I don’t have the same set of rules. Even my sister’s like: “You’re crazy, you need to treat yourself and get yourself something nice.” I just don’t really care.
I love being busy. I don’t like it when I don’t have anything to do. I’m the sort of person who always has at least three projects on the go. At the moment, when I do get downtime I just blob out, but I used to always be drawing or painting or crocheting. I couldn’t just sit and watch TV and do nothing. I’d have to do something with my hands. I feel weird when I don’t have something I need to be doing.
It was really, really scary at first when Ben quit his job to be a stay-at-home dad. I think for the first few weeks I was like, “I’m not sure about this,” and even sometimes now I wonder if it was a good decision. But looking back, it definitely was. He’s amazing for doing it – he had a good career as a plumber/drainlayer, but he was like, “I don’t really have any passion for my job and I know that you really love what you’re doing, so let’s try it out.”
We don’t really fight, even though we’re around each other all the time. I’m working at home, he’s at home. We just seem to click. We have coffees together, we play cards if we have a little break. I never get sick of him, and hopefully vice versa, even spending all our spare time together. It’s nice.
We’ve finished having babies now.
I think it’s sad saying that, because I’d like to have another little squishy baby, but the logistics of having a whole other human being in the house is a scary thought. We’d have to get a bigger car and the sleeplessness, I just can’t go back to that. Three kids is good – it’s busy and it’s chaotic and it’s messy, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
On Sunday, it’s my son’s rule that we eat dinner in front of a family movie and d not t at t the th table. t bl So S we all ll camp out t in the lounge and put a kids’ movie on… which they don’t really watch and then I end up watching it. I have to see what happens at the end.
Alexa Whitehead with her husband, Ben, and their children Sam, left, Ezra and Holly.