Running a business and designing buildings – all in a day’s work for this Edinbugh-based couple
It’s not often that the worlds of the romper suit and the planning application overlap, but for Graham Currie juggling the two has become a way of life. A director at Ian Springford Architects, his working week is split between designing large public buildings, particularly hotels, and helping his wife Kristina run Bon Tot, their fledgling childrenswear business. His time is also split geographically, between seeing clients in London and the family home in Edinburgh. And, just to fill his days a little further, there’s Clemence, the couple’s two-year-old daughter. It’s a hefty workload but Graham is unfazed by it all. “It has been a bit busy, this last wee while,” he says with the smile of the born multitasker.
Like her husband, American-born Kris has a non-stop schedule running the company. But, she says, if you have a young family, childrenswear is a fantastic industry to be in: “Just about everyone in the business has kids, so it’s enormously accommodating and understanding. They all know how tricky it can be sometimes to juggle work and family.”
The couple launched Bon Tot online a year ago, selling some of the coolest gear any baby has ever worn. They’ve gradually extended the range beyond the zero-to-two age group, up to clothing for six-year-olds, and only opened a shop, in Edinburgh’s quirky St Stephen Street, in September. “We took the premises on a short-term let – just six months,” says Kris. “But it’s going so well we want to extend that.”
Half of Bon Tot’s sales already come from the shop, much to Kris’s delight. “It was always our intention to have a place where people could come in and see what we’re selling.” She takes care of the merchandising, seeking out makers of sturdy, well-crafted dungarees and cute little leggings that the stylish infants of the city just can’t get enough of. The couple are recently back from a trade show in Paris, where they met some of their suppliers face to face for the first time. “It was really worth it,” says Kris. “These are people we’ve talked to by email for a year, so it was great to finally meet them. I’ve worked in small-scale artisan retail before, so I think I have a good understanding of what suppliers want from retailers. We want to make it work for them as much as for ourselves.”
Building a business in Scotland was not something Kris ever imagined she’d do as a child growing up in small-town America. “We lived in Michigan, in a small place of just two thousand people. Most of them were farmers, and it was not a wealthy place at all,” she says, “but it was surrounded by lakes and woodland – we had a real outdoors lifestyle.”
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 20-28, issue 106.
Photography Neale Smith
Words Judy Diamond
Art Direction Gillian Welsh