Isabel Dominguez developed her talent as a painter and creator of subtle but sublime children’s furniture in her ten years working for a London-based interior designer.
A City girl for most of her life, until a few years ago she lived in stylish Brackenbury Village and loved the buzz of the Portobello Road and the stylish atmosphere in Ladbroke Grove.
However, in 2006, Isabel and her family surprised their friends with move to rural Hampshire in search of greater tranquility:
“I realised that what I had once found “cool and vibrant” I now found slightly edgy and I would hold onto my little girl’s hand tightly – I realised I wanted more freedom for my family, a more carefree existence, one based on roaming across fields with dogs, rabbits and chickens rather than a childhood based on hot chocolates in Starbucks and Crispy Crème Doughnuts!“
Isabel’s change of heart resulted in a move to an idyllic cottage and new life near Andover; “I now live on the top of a hill with far reaching views over fields surrounded by nothing but the occasional flock of sheep and I love it!”
Since the move she has had a little boy, Harry, and is expecting another baby next year, which would have seemed a daunting prospect had the family still been based in London.
“Here we have an acre of garden so the children can all run about and life seems a lot more relaxing,” she says.
In her new life she has created a beautiful family home that reflects her belief that children’s furniture should blend in with the rest of the house.
“I feel a lot of the top-end children’s furniture is designed for the traditional nursery – out of contact with the rest of the house. Few of us live like that nowadays and most people want furniture that their children won’t grow out of after just a few years.”
As a result Isabel started her own business, Hushaby baby, which offers just this sort of furniture – unique, beautifully crafted designs that stand out from the crowd and are created to last.
“There are so many children’s catalogues providing furniture that are just sprayed white. It is so easy to either add a little interest to a plain piece of furniture, by just painting a handkerchief falling out of a drawer, a ladybird crawling up the side, a cricket ball left on a shelf, it doesn’t have to be overly decorative,” she says.
Isabel’s yearn to make her designs unique, along with her extremely high standards, ensures that when you buy a Hushaby baby design you are getting a piece of furniture you will treasure for a lifetime.
“A good finish is essential to my work, so every stage has to be carefully prepared. I like to think that a rocking horse or a toy box that I have painted will be able to be passed down from one generation to the next.”
As her daughter grows older, Hushaby baby’s products have evolved to encompass the older stages of childhood: recently her daughter left for her first term at boarding school with one of her mother’s new range of unique tuck boxes.
“I might have to change the company name,” she jokes.
In addition to producing exquisite products, the level of customer service Hushaby baby delivers is crucial to the company’s success.
“I rely on word of mouth, my work is all about reputation. It is essential that my customers are happy.”
Because of this Isabel goes that extra mile to meet all her customer’s needs.
“I am currently providing a small line of furniture, all of which is hand painted for each individual client and I am happy to source one-off pieces of furniture for people from a chest of drawers to antique sleigh beds. I will do as little, or as much as the client would like.”
Isabel’s designs are influenced by many factors, including her children.
“I get inspiration from the stories we read at bedtime and the imaginary games they play,” she says. “Whatever sparks their imagination fuels mine. In terms of my style, I love classical designs and gentle colours that nurture rather than over-stimulate. I like to leave room for the child’s imagination to roam.”
She believes it is important to listen to her clients’ wishes – although sometimes those of child and parent may differ!
However, while her children inspire her work, having two little ones along with a successful business keeps Isabel extremely busy.
“My daily routine is totally chaotic but I treasure the peaceful hours hidden away in my studio in the garden before its back to dog walking and more school runs …. Very much like any other mother.”
It is Isabel’s passion for her work that drives her and by creating her own business she has found the flexibility she requires as a mother.
“As I work on a commission basis I can plan my work so that it hopefully isn’t too overwhelming and I can combine home and work quite happily. People commission my work because they want something unique so they understand that it takes a little longer if a piece is painted to order rather than just flying out of a warehouse.”