With just over a week until Christmas, we enjoyed finding a few moments to chat to the effortlessly chic Poppy Sexton-Wainwright, new mother and co-founder of the refined pyjama and resort wear brand Asceno – whose silky soft pyjamas are on the top of all of our Christmas wishlists! For this next instalment of our Women That Inspire Us series, we loved discovering how Poppy and her friend and business partner Lauren Leask, went about creating stylish, tailored pyjamas that can be worn at home as well as about town – many Influencers even choose to wear them for Fashion Week – the secret behind a successful print and how her love of travel influences everything she does.
You and your business partner Lauren Leask began designing together after meeting at university. Could you tell us how you started your business and a bit about how it has developed over the years?
We had a shared love of effortless dressing and saw a gap in the market for chic silk pyjamas. Asceno quickly developed into a resort wear brand – but our heritage lies in sleep.
What factors do you think have had the biggest impact in the development of your business?
A large proportion of our sales are driven through Instagram – our imagery is very important, as it shows how the brand can be worn, and allows the customer to enter the Asceno world. This tool to help explain and drive traffic to our website has been significant in our growth.
Where does the name Asceno come from?
It is meant to evoke thoughts of a beautiful island, the ocean and escapism. It’s actually made up using a combination of our mothers’ maiden names. We both are very close to our mothers. Both of them are strong, independent women who we aspire to be like.
What has been your most exciting achievement?
Probably when we launched on Matches, and Net-a-Porter – they were both huge moments for the brand and were very exciting too! But aside from work, finding out I was going to have a baby was huge and meeting him for the first time was really amazing.
You recently welcomed your little baby boy Rudy into the world – congratulations – how have you found juggling work with looking after Rudy, and what new challenges does this bring?
This brings many challenges, mostly time challenges! There just isn’t enough time in the day to dedicate what I want to give work and what I want to give Rudy. So, the juggle is a struggle – I sort of madly rush from thing to thing! But it is getting easier and I’m learning that it’s better to try to be fully focused on one thing at a time rather than to try to respond to emails, while also trying to feed Rudy one-handed, which, for example is always a challenge as he just wants to see the screen!
What inspires you and your work?
Travel, nature, colour and textures all inspire me anywhere and everywhere I go. Striving to live well and lead a balanced existence also inspires me in both home and work life.
Both you and Lauren are passionate about print and many of your designs feature gorgeous ones. What do you think makes a good print?
For me, versatility is key – that is the secret behind a great print! – as it allows you to dress it up or down or wear it with different colours. We create some prints that are subtle and easy, and some that are pretty bold – especially some of the prints in our AW20 collection, which is launching next year! – but all of them are surprisingly wearable.
You love travelling. What is it that you like most about it?
I love the anticipation of a holiday, the idea of getting lots of sleep and finding the time to read a book. In reality, this rarely happens, but I’m addicted to the idea of escaping and relaxing! I also enjoy the feeling of the sun on my face and trying new, local food and drinks in new places.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
I would find it really hard to choose my favourite place in the world! Portugal will always be special to me as I grew up spending all my family holidays there in a house my grandparents had there. However, in terms of where I adore to travel to, I would have to choose Sri Lanka and India for their incredible colours and cultures, and Greece for its crystal-clear turquoise waters. But really, my favourite place in the world would have to be home in London, I love it here.
Can you describe your style?
Very relaxed. Tailored trousers, a silk shirt and a blazer – almost always paired with trainers – is about as smart as I usually go day-to-day and for meetings. When I do wear dresses, they tend to me flowing and loose. I like to feel comfortable.
Which Davina Combe pieces do you have your eye on and how would you wear them?
I love the Knots Collection. I love subtle and delicate jewellery that’s also a little bit special, which is one of the reasons why I love Davina Combe pieces so much. I normally only really wear gold and tiny diamonds, but I love the Knots Collection. I’m really drawn to the Knot Earrings – the Black Onyx pair are very cool and could really dress up an outfit. But I really like the Blue Topaz ones too and the Knot Rings, which are super cute.