Mommy Monday:: Isabella Oliver


When launched in October 2003 {yes, just six years ago this month} it was a small operation with the three co-founders working in the front rooms of their homes. Now, Baukjen de Swaan Arons, Vanessa Knox-Brien and Geoff van Sonsbeeck are owners of a large, successful online apparel business. The company has experienced double digit growth year after year.

According to the founders, the company’s biggest accomplishments are creating a brand and collection that is loved by pregnant women around the world, launching this Isabella Oliver 365 collection in the competitive arena of womenswear and winning the Drapers Etailer of the year award. The say their biggest accomplishment, however, is being able to grow organically without outside investors and retain 100 percent ownership.

According to Baukjen, it is sometimes tricky to balance family and business. However, she said, “We all have our children as the first priority in life and so whenever there is a conflict, we support one another in being able to step away and be with our family.” She added, “We have a good support network in our private lives and that really helps when we need to travel or a busy week is coming up.”

Knox-Brien agreed. “I have a strong partnership with my husband and we are basically a tag team since we both have busy schedules and the kids have busy schedules. We make time that is family time and we protect that strongly.”

The pair of mom-entrepreneurs encourage other like-minded moms to be organized and have a strong support system behind them. However, they also caution that when starting out long, unpaid hours are often required.

Creating and building a business is not easy. According to the founders of Isabella Oliver, you can easily feel like you are failing at the business and with raising your family, when in fact you are doing the best you can. “Be clear on your priorities and be kind to yourself, like a best friend would,” they said.

Mommy Monday is a regular feature on Market Mommy:: The Blog. If you know a great mom business owner that should be featured here, contact Dawn at and put Mommy Monday in the subject line!