A Love Letter To Childrensalon
Our story begins in Royal Tunbridge Wells, England, where Sybil Harriman’s keen eye for fashion and the unique creations she made for her own family saw her much-loved pastime evolve into a childrenswear destination.
That vision and drive continued to set Childrensalon apart as her daughter Michele, alongside artist husband George, expertly led the family business into the 21st century.
Seventy years on, the Harriman-Smith family are very much part of the business, with more than 10 family members still creating the Childrensalon magic.
“The company we are today is so unique, thoughtful and ambitious, yet full of care – true to the spirit we were founded on,” says Asher S. Harriman-Smith, third generation of our founding family and now co-chairman.
So what makes Childrensalon special? As Michele reminisces, “In the end, that’s what it was always really about; the fun we were having.” For other people, Childrensalon’s unique tight-knit feeling or memories of their own relationship with us as children is what keeps us close to their hearts.
To Family, Fun & The Future
Asher S. Harriman-Smith, third generation of our founding family and now co-chairman, says: "My grandmother, our founder, with her vision and values will always be the timeless heart of Childrensalon. Likewise, our family and those who have been near and dear to us from the very beginning are the lifeblood. The company we are today is so unique, thoughtful and ambitious, yet full of care – true to the spirit we were founded on. Having that shared sense of purpose and dream that you strive towards with your family - and those that become like family - all the while delighting other families around the world, has been a beautiful and thrilling adventure for all of us."
To discover what makes Childrensalon special, we asked some of our family and friends to share their favourite memories and stories from throughout the years.
"Thank you to Childrensalon for shining your light so brightly on our girls in Ghana"
JEMMA WILLIAMS, founder of Porridge & Pens Ghana
"Founded in 2015, our mission at Porridge & Pens is to provide free education, safe shelter, and school meals to children of all ages in Ghana.
Our journey with Childrensalon began four years later, and since that moment of meeting, the charity has taken huge strides forward. We have reached more children than ever before and broken down more barriers preventing children from taking their seat in the classroom. In the same year, we founded the ‘Girl Power Project’ in which you at Childrensalon have been instrumental, and we’d like to thank you for shining your light so brightly on our girls in Ghana. Your constant support is a beam of hope to the girls and the centre as a whole.
Through our seven-year friendship, you have given children an opportunity to concentrate on their learning rather than their rumbling tummies, given street girls a safe place to sleep at night, and provided children with the opportunity to feel confident coming to school with the resources they need to learn. Over 300 children are healthier and happier every day because of your generosity and kindness.
Happy birthday, Childrensalon, and once again we'd like to thank you for your continued support – here’s to the next 70 years and beyond!"
“I'd skip down the hill, excited to visit the shop, which I remember as a treasure trove of beautiful things”
MERRYN ANDREWS, charity fundraising assistant at Childrensalon
“My earliest memory of Childrensalon was the very first shop in the high street in Tunbridge Wells. My very elegant granny lived only a short walk away and she loved beautifully made children’s clothes. She and my mother could not resist the exquisitely smocked dresses, Harris Tweed coats, and the adorable Petit Bateau babygrows.
We used to skip down the hill, excited to visit the shop, which I remember as a treasure trove of beautiful, colourful things. I particularly remember unwrapping a twirly red Oilily skirt from Childrensalon one Christmas morning and how special it made me feel.
We lived abroad when I was a child, so it’s lovely to think how our purchases from the shop were worn all over the world, even back then – from Egypt and Sudan to Thailand and Hong Kong. What we loved most as a family was the welcoming atmosphere whenever we went in. The personal service was second to none. They treated you like friends and we would always stop for a chat whenever we walked past.”
"We’ve worked together for as long as our directors can remember"
PAUL BOLTON, director of Early Days
"This year, Early Days is also 70 years young and we’re delighted to be sharing this prestigious milestone with Childrensalon.
We’ve worked together for as long as our directors can remember. Our relationship began in the shop on the high street in Tunbridge Wells, and, when our shoes were later available to buy online our sales grew and grew.
Our fondest memory of working alongside Childrensalon was in 2014. We’d recently launched a new leather pre-walker collection, which at the time was sold exclusively online at Childrensalon. One pair, in particular, would be the standout style for the season – our Alex shoes.
In April that year, an eight-month-old Prince George accompanied his parents on his first royal engagement, to Australia and New Zealand. As they stepped off the runway, the world watched eagerly, but no one could be more captivated than us as the little heir was wearing a pair of our ivory Alex shoes.
Our HQ was inundated with phone calls from the press and retailers all over the world. The Alex shoes sold out overnight and production was increased to cope with demand. The rest, as they say, is history.
Early Days has been a popular choice for the succession of little royal pre-walkers, and our popularity has continued to grow worldwide. Today, we're proud to say that the future of Early Days looks very bright.
We’d like to thank Childrensalon for their valued friendship and to congratulate you for all you've achieved over the last seven decades. Here’s to the next 70 years!"
"We used to try on the clothes for the customer so they’d know what they would look like"
PUPPE HARRIMAN, daughter of Sybil Harriman & Childrensalon shop manager
"I've worked (unofficially of course) in the shop on the high street in Tunbridge Wells for as long as I can remember. There have been three shops in total throughout our 70 years, all instantly recognisable by their colourful shop fronts and eye-catching window displays. For many years we had a model train that would chug along a track which was suspended in the air and sent the train on a journey around the entire inside of the shop. The train is still a conversation starter to this day and it's nice to hear so many local people who remember it as a fond memory from their childhood.
My earliest memory is modelling Mummy’s clothes. That and picking up the pins from the shop floor with a magnet! We used to try on the clothes for the customer so they’d know what they would look like when they were worn. I remember Mummy saying, ‘You should never wear what doesn’t suit you. It’s not about being in fashion, it’s about what sets you off the best’. Mummy had an inherent way of knowing - at just one glance - what type of clothing would suit someone the minute they walked in the door. That’s what everyone loved - they would get a full experience when they shopped at Childrensalon."
"I remember how amazing the clothes were - it was like playing dress-up for the whole day!"
TILLY CHAPMAN, model
"Happy 70th birthday, Childrensalon! It's so exciting that you've asked me to be part of your anniversary celebrations.
Childrensalon has been a part of my life since I was a small child. My mum is friends with some of the Harriman family and as a hairdresser, she has cut their hair as far back as I can remember. The first time I visited Childrensalon HQ was, again, when I was very small. I had just joined a modelling agency and they invited me to take part in my first photoshoot. I recall feeling nervous as everything seemed so big. There were huge, bright murals everywhere and everything seemed so colourful - from the walls to the beautiful clothing displayed in the studio on clothes' rails. I remember how amazing the clothes were and it felt like I was playing dress-up for the day. Above all - despite being a little shy - I had the best time.
Since then I have worked on many more editorial campaigns where I have been lucky to travel the world, modelling for designers such as Burberry. As a teenager, I still model today. I'd like to thank Childrensalon for my first assignment and for introducing me to something I love so much."
"My first memory of Childrensalon is our flamboyant photoshoots - strutting down the high street like it was a catwalk"
ASHER S. HARRIMAN-SMITH, co-chairman at Childrensalon
"As a child, Childrensalon was the wacky and wonderful world I lived in, so it was part of my DNA. As an adult I now look back and feel so proud of the achievements of my grandma, my parents and the families that poured their heart into making this what it is today. It’s a huge honour to be in a position where you get to take part in continuing that legacy.
My earliest memory is modelling in our flamboyant photoshoots as a kid, walking down the catwalks we’d host on the High Street of Royal Tunbridge Wells. My siblings, relatives and even my nanny would be modelling – I distinctly remember my sister Bonnie being fabulous, strutting her stuff. I, on the other hand, was far more shy and reserved."
Read more about our 70th anniversary HERE.