And as Kate blossomed, so did the maternity industry. So now it’s the turn of baby shops (not shops where you buy babies, you understand, but shops which sell stuff for the little darlings).
Whether it be department stores like Debenhams or the Mama-Baby mainstays like JoJo Maman Bebe and Mamas and Papas anyone who is anyone in the baby world has cashed in on the future King and released a Royal tribute. But some have more credibility than others, and Blue Almonds in South Kensington holds more kudos than most after Kate herself was snapped dashing in for a few additions for little George’s nursery.
Having established the boutique baby store six years ago, mum of one Iza Minkiewicz has snared herself a corner in the lucrative market of supplying celebs with absolutely everything they need for their offspring’s arrival. Describing the shop as a one-stop-shop for the expectant mum, Iza sits down with customers, works out what they want, what they need, and what will be best for them.
“I don’t just sell as much as I can, I talk to them about what they want for their nursery. This is an exciting time and a busy time and I don’t want anyone to feel pressured or stressed when they’re in my shop,” she says. “I like to take my time and make sure the customer is totally happy, and their nursery will look absolutely beautiful for the arrival of their baby.” Iza designs the furniture sold in the shop, which is them hand-crafted in her native Poland. She did, of course, design a Royal Collection, and that was before Kate popped in. “I was so surprised to see her but she was very nice and natural. She was about six or seven months pregnant and was blooming. She came in with her mum. I don’t tell people what she bought, I like to respect her privacy. I just tell people how she was very nice.”
And Kate isn’t the only A-lister to have her baby’s room adorned with Blue Almond décor. Other regulars include Tamara Eccleston, Lily Allen and even supermodel Claudia Schiffer. “It was so funny, when she came in I was looking and thought I recognised her,” laughs Iza. “So I said to her ‘you look like Claudia Schiffer’. Well, she just laughed and said ‘I am Claudia Schiffer’. I was so embarrassed!”
Interest in Iza’s modest Walton Street shop has gone off the scale since her Royal visit, and she has started trading online to meet the demands of international orders. Blue Almonds sells everything from baby booties to hand-crafted one-of-a-kind cribs and bespoke furniture complimented by personalised bedding. There are gifts and gowns and everything in between. So if you’re looking for a gift that will upstage everyone at the next baby shower you go to, or just want to splash out on something special for your precious one, you’re bound to find something to taste. Be warned though, with quality comes a price, and unless you’ve got Kate’s canny budget, you might have to hit Mothercare for most of the bare essentials!