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Citizen Enfants

How She Does It: Poppy Sexton-Wainwright

Citizen Enfants talks to mum-of-two Poppy Sexton-Wainwright, founder of clothing brand ASCENO about running her own business with young children in tow, never switching off and why a support network is crucial for working mums. Here she tells us how she does it.

Tell us a bit about yourself: 

I am the founder of ASCENO, the luxury lounge and resort brand. I live in south west London with my husband and our two boys, Rudy who is three and Max who is one.

What about your working life?

As the founder and creative director of ASCENO there is not much down time. I live and breathe it. I am proud to have created a brand that allows women to be their purest self. Our clothes are uncomplicated, effortless and versatile, from home to work to beach. Over the past eight years we have built an all-female team and being surrounded by these women every day inspires me to continue driving the brand forward. Our offices are based in Shepherd’s Bush in London, but I travel around a lot, every day is completely different.

What inspires you in your career?

Women. When I started the brand I wanted to create clothing for women so they could feel relaxed, carefree and confident. I am always inspired by effortless and easy style. Also creating something that is as sustainable as possible. I am proud of the pieces we create and the way in which we do it. The inspiration comes from women who made me want to create the business and the process.

These three items help you juggle everything?

My phone. Obvious, I know. My diary and notebook, I still love using paper lists. And use it as a way of collecting ideas and brainstorming future plans for shoots, collections and collaborations. The iPad. I wish my children didn’t watch screens, but this simply is not the case in our household. It helps the juggle of dealing with work and my babies on particularly hectic mornings.

If you could give your past self one piece of advice about being a working mother what would it be? 

You can always ask for help. Navigating a work life balance with children is all about having a safety net of support around you. I think we can be a little critical of ourselves and feel as though we need to be juggling it all independently. I have an amazing nanny and multiple grandparents who help me with the boys ensuring they have a strong support system around them when I cannot physically be there too. I am incredibly lucky to have them.

Have your career goals and aspirations altered since becoming a working mum from that prior to your children? 

Being the founder of a business you have to be ‘all in’ – but having children certainly altered my perspective. It made me realise what the most important things are. But my passion, drive and ultimate goals for my company remain the same.

If you had the power to change one thing for working mothers, what would you change? 

Create a time machine that gives us extra time – there is never enough time in the day for working mothers.

Tell us about the best holiday you’ve taken with your children.

We went to Portugal for the New Year. It was an easy(ish) flight, the weather was warm, but not hot, and we were surrounded by lots of family. Being outside, feeling the sun on our faces and being on the beach after a long, cold, wet winter in London was so spoiling.

How do you think travel benefits your children? 

There is no greater experience than seeing the world. I am so lucky to have travelled extensively with my family as a child and then as an adult. But nothing brings you greater joy than when you see your child experience something for the first time. We took the boys to Barbados last year for a friend’s wedding. We stay at the Sandpiper which is gorgeous. The staff were unbelievably friendly and the childcare there was amazing. Barbados is five hours behind the UK, so the jet lag was a disaster as the kids woke every morning at 4am. But the silver lining was seeing them watch the sunrise on a deserted beach while the other party revellers still slept off the previous night’s antics.

Dream destination you would love to visit as a family?

Mauritius. The food is incredible and it’s so well set up for kids – my only issue is the flight which I am nervous to try anytime soon. We previously stayed at the Lux Belle Mare which is reopening later in the year and we would love to go back there. It’s the perfect place for kids.

Fondest travel memory?

I travelled around India with my mother and family friends when I was 14. Mumbai and Kerala stick in my memory as being really magical. I water skied for the first time in the Kerala backwaters as warm as a bath on Christmas Day. At one point we stayed in a hotel called Brunton BoatYard in Forte Cochin. It was perfectly colonial in style and you watched the fishermen and boats pass by the bush waterway. Just wonderful.

Travel essentials with kids?

A thick skin and a calm attitude. I know that we’ll most likely offend a few people on the plane with noise and the odd biscuit being chucked around. But I know that a deep breath and a smile can help in these situations. And an iPad or two!

Travel essentials without kids?

I always travel in ASCENO. Our wool cashmere in the winter and our viscose or linen the rest of the year. And when arriving at your destination it’s nice to look effortlessly put together. Our silk slips and linen dresses are versatile and can be easily rolled into hand luggage. Dressed up or dressed down. These are always with me when I go away. I also always travel with a rich moisturiser, I love Augustinus Bader and Irene Forte, both are heavenly for dehydrated skin.

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Top tips for London with children 

London has beautiful green spaces. Battersea Park, Hyde Park, Primrose Hill, all of these places are beautiful in any season. And it’s easy to find a good coffee and a hot chocolate in all of them.

If you have a day to yourself, what do you do?

This is incredibly rare, and something that needs serious planning. Usually a day to myself is when I’m travelling for work. However if I am in London I like to do something which is going to relax and recharge me. So a walk without emails, and some reflexology. I wish I made time to do this more often.

Heading ‘out out’ – where is your favourite spot? 

I don’t do a lot of ‘out out’ in London anymore, normally dinner and drinks. My favourite restaurant in London is Archway. It recently opened in Battersea. The food is incredible and there is a great atmosphere. Big nights out usually happen when I’m on holiday. Drinking with sand underfoot looking at the sea is my ideal. I’m off to Ibiza with girlfriends in June, there will be some ‘out out‘ there I expect.

How do you do it?

I’m not sure I do! But I’m trying! A support network is crucial.

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