Milly Ollis grew up wearing fabulous clothes and riding a tubby pony in the Somerset countryside. It’s memories of her happy childhood – plus her love for travelling and sewing – that led the 27-year-old to launch kids’ clothing brand Milly’O three years ago, after spotting a gap in the market for fun clothes that children could wear “with a smile”.
Milly: “I have always been creative and first used a sewing machine when I was at school. This fuelled my passion and I went on to complete an art and design BTEC at Strode College. After a year I decided to go travelling and then worked a couple of ski seasons. Finally I went back to my true love, my sewing machine. I started Milly’O in 2014 after looking back on some photos of me as a child. My parents would always dress me in the most fabulous clothes and I would most definitely stand out from the crowd. From this I was noticing a gap in the market for fun, bright and comfortable clothes for kids to wear with a smile. I am sure my travels had an impact on the designs of my clothes and the fabrics I choose.”
Milly is a Jack-of-all-trades when it come to running her business, doing everything from designing products, choosing fabrics, and making garments, to marketing and promotion, attending local artisan markets, and managing accounts and paper work.
Milly: “I have a lovely little workroom in Street, where all the making takes place. It’s my happy place and I love coming up with new designs there. Although I do all of my tie-dying at home so naturally all our bedding and clothes are slowly being dyed. I love tie-dye! There might not seem like much imagination to why I chose my business name. For as long as I can remember I have called my father Daddy’O, therefore Milly’O just fell into place. Plus my surname is Ollis so it’s basically just my name!”
Milly sources her fabric “from all over” and says her current favourite designers come from Sweden. She said their “eye-catching” colours and patterns keep up with current trends, and definitely influence her work.
Milly: “Annoyingly most of my designs come to me in the middle of the night! I have a sketch book and I try and jot down as many ideas as I can, and then slowly work on these throughout the year. A firm favourite is definitely my Teddy sweaters. They have a lovely soft fleece lining with either stars or stripes on the right side – perfect for snuggling in the winter, and even heading to our British beaches in the summer months. My soft organic baby leggings are another popular product. They come in lots of various colours and patterns which brighten up any outfit.”
Milly is a stickler for quality and makes her products as durable as possible so that they can be handed down to siblings or friends. And she has big plans for the future.
Milly: “My clothes stand out from others because of the fabrics I use and the designs I make. Eventually I would like to design my own fabric so other people really won’t be able to find anything quite like Milly’O. I love using bright and bold fabrics and patterns, which helps to make my clothes original.”
Her passion for her products is obvious, but why does Milly love Somerset?
Milly: “There are so many reasons why I love Somerset, we could be here all day! So I’ll just name a few, I grew up in Horrington where I was surrounded by friends and going outside to play most days, we were free and had absolutely no worries. Now I love to go on walks and have lunches in some great local pubs with my old school friends. Somerset offers some really great walks and views, it’s perfect in the summer. I also love visiting the artisan markets, there are so many great ones and even more during the Christmas season. I am very lucky to own a retro T25 VW camper van so any spare time during the summer I love driving to Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall’s beaches come rain or shine to camp for long weekends.”