We're huge fans of singer, dancer and Britain's Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon, so we were super excited to hear she was bringing out her own kids clothing collection with George at Asda. We caught up with the mum-of-two to find out more about her exciting new project and to pick her brain on her parenting techniques.
'There are quite a few pieces I really wish I’d made in an adult size!' admits Alesha ahead of the launch of her new George at Asda kids collection.
Alesha's 34-piece clothing line includes pieces for boys and girls from 2 – 10 years old, with easy-to-wear separates in bold prints and bright colours featuring uplifting and gender-fluid styles with powerful messages such as ‘Be bold’, ‘Be strong’ and ‘Be brave’ running throughout the collection.
'Having the slogans on the outfits, the mantras and the positivity and empowerment aspect of it, is the side that really appeals to me. Everything I do whether it’s music or the children’s books, those positive messages always weave there way in there. Anything that makes you feel good and enables you to be you is what really drives me.
'The be strong, be brave, be kind and always have fun is something I’ve been saying to Azura everyday she goes to school since she was about three. That's a staple statement in our house and I really wanted that to be the identity of the range. All the statements like shine bright and stand out, just enables kids to really feel like they can be themselves and shine, which is what we want them to do, we want them to have fun and stand out and not carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.'
Alesha is a super stylish mum, and when it comes to her favourite items, there are some that she really loves.
'The denim jumpsuit – I love, that I would rock, it's so cool. The little badges on the back are also something personal. The lightning bolt represents Aroura Beam, my character, the panda represents my 19-month-old daughter’s favourite animal, she’s obsessed with pandas. And then obviously all the great slogans.
'I also love the tracksuits and all the ‘Do you like my steez?’ slogans which is something we say in our household a lot, so we tried to make it as personal as possible. All the fabrics are so cosy and the colours are so beautiful, too.'
As a fan of fashion herself, Alesha admits she's guilty of shopping a bit too much for her little ones, but when she does buy clothes for them, there are some very important things she looks out for.
'I do shop often, but I’m trying to shop less. Having a younger daughter now, I’m trying my best to save a lot of Azura's cool pieces that are nice that I can pass them onto Anaya. Anaya’s rocked lots of clothing that Azura rocked when she was a baby and it’s so nice. You can kind of compare them and how they both looked in the same outfit. We try to have a lot of fun with fashion in our house, that’s why getting to do the collection was a dream come true. My partner and I love fashion, now having two children, we really love playing around with styles, this just felt like a really natural fit and an opportunity to say something important as well.
'When it comes to kids clothes, the main thing I’m guilty of doing is picking clothes that I would probably wear myself – would I wear this? Yeah let’s get it! I think a lot of parents are guilty of that. I also look for things that are comfortable, I always say, when you get older, you don’t mind sacrificing your comfort for something that looks good. However, when it’s kids and it’s about them playing, having fun and being relaxed, you want the clothes to be as soft and as comfortable as possible. If I think something is gonna be too tight or not have enough stretch then I tend to avoid it. I also go for colour. It’s a symbol of how you feel and a form of self-expression. A great pop of colour will always entice me.'
There are so many inspiring messages throughout Alesha's collection, and when it comes to inspirational role models, Alesha thinks that they start at home.
'First and foremost, parents are the most important role models. It starts at home. There’s no greater teacher for children right now than their parents, grandparents, teachers, aunties, uncles, cousins. The immediate people. I’ve got a 19-month-old and a 7 year-old, they’re not really exposed to the big wide world. Their little existence is really at home, at school and the cartoons they're watching. I couldn’t necessarily name a famous role model for Azura, obviously she loves Jo-Jo Siwa, and she really likes Nick Jonas cos he does the voice over for Lou in Ugly Dolls.
'She also loves Zendaya because of The Greatest Showman, so depending on what movie she’s watching, she’ll like that person. I don’t know necessarily if they’re a role model, at this point it’s the daily teachings at home, the books she’s reading, the teachers she’s working with and the family and friends that she speaks to on a regular basis.
'We’re very mindful that she’s learning and absorbing and we try more to teach her by our actions than by telling her what to do. We find if she sees us being kind and loving, looking after ourselves, being happy and healthy, we hope that those teachings filter their way through subliminally and then also really good books are a really good way to get to children.'
With gender fluid pieces being at the heart of Alesha's new collection, we wondered how toys and fashion have had an influence on her children's gender identity.
'What we try to do is give her as much choice as possible. I don’t like anybody being put into a box. I think it’s important for people to find out who they are. We just try our best to expose her to loads of different things. We don’t separate it like ‘that toy's for a boy, that toy's for a girl.’ I ordered a football net the other day as my girl’s love playing football. Obviously, we grew up with football being seen as a very male dominated sport. I used to play football personally with the boys at school, but girls weren’t necessarily encouraged. I was on the netball team and we didn’t have a girls' football team for example, and the boys and girls couldn’t mix.
'We just try to do our best in terms of making sure they have a bit of everything and then they can make their mind up in terms of what their interests are or what things they’re passionate about. For us, balance is key. Everyday physical outside activities, then creative arts and crafts indoors, it’s different types of books, different types of documentaries and programmes as well, I’m quite mindful of that. We’re not perfect parents, we don’t know all the answers, but every day is an opportunity to just try and do right by your kids and make a good choice for them so that something within their day has had a positive effect on them. That’s all you can do I think.'
Encouraging communication is hugely important for Alesha, and giving her children the confidence to speak up is something she is very mindful of.
'Azura is the one at the moment that comes home from school and there’s a mini drama or something has affected her or something is on her mind or she can’t get out of her mind, so communication is a big thing for us and we constantly tell her and make her feel like she can tell us anything. We always say to her, when you tell mummy and daddy, when you talk about something, you’re getting it off your chest, we might not have all the answers, and we might not solve all the problems, but you will feel better, just for telling us, and what happens.
'We always say, ‘we’re on your side, you can tell us anything, we’re here to protect and support you.’ So that’s a daily thing. That mantra as simple as it is, we always say when she goes to school, ‘be strong today, if there’s something that upsets you speak out, tell a teacher, tell mummy and daddy, be brave, don’t be afraid to be who you are, be kind, even if somebody is not nice to you, please still show them kindness, and we always say to her above everything, you have fun, because when you have fun, life is easier to deal with. When you’re at school, if you’re enjoying something you’re gonna learn more so if she’s not having fun, what’s the point? So we always drive it home to her every single day and I get her to say the mantra now as well! I say, what do we say? And she’ll go ‘be strong, be brave, be kind’ and I’m like most importantly? She’s like ‘have fun!’ and it makes me feel good, I hope she remembers that.’
Alesha admits that her upbringing is very different from her children's upbringing, but it's always important to take lessons from your childhood when bringing up children.
'That’s the beauty about being a grown up, you can kind of look back on your childhood and say, this worked, this didn’t work and I’m gonna learn from this and do different by my children. I’m always mindful of that.
'When I was growing up, I had a lot of freedom – my children aren’t going to have any!' Alesha laughs. 'My mum was so easy going, which I loved as a kid! I’m going to be easy going, but in a different way, with more boundaries. I always think, what did I learn from my childhood that was really positive that’s helped me, how can I make sure my girls get that same teaching? And also, if there’s things my parents did that I didn’t agree with, I just make sure I don’t make those same mistakes and I think that’s the best we can do.'
As a pround feminist, Alesha realises the importance of discussing current affairs and issues facing society with her eldest daughter.
'At the moment on Azura's bedside table, she’s got a book on incredible women in Black History and we will choose a different person every night to learn and read about.
'We won’t just read something on Black History, we also read about the planet, the ocean, it could be anything topical. It has to be done in a way that they’re learning something, but that it’s not too heavy for them.
'When they’re 7, we shouldn’t take for granted the fact that they do worry a lot. Because they don’t know better, and they can’t fathom some of the things you’re telling them. You have to sort of deliver it in a way that’s palatable and easy for them to digest. That’s why books are key because there are some really cool books that do the work for you.
'If we’re not sitting reading about things or watching a cool documentary then the conversation doesn’t tend to come up, you’re just having a frivolous fun day, but at some point in your day with a kid, it’s an opportunity to have a chat about anything.
'At this age they’re really inquisitive so she’s naturally asking us more questions than even say a year ago. There’s been occasions where we’ve gone to the teacher and said look, this is concerning Azura and the teacher will say to us, we’ll do an assembly on this. We’re a community, all raising each other’s kids at the end of the day so we’ve all got to look out for each other, but it comes back down to talking and communication.'
Alesha's line in now available in selected Asda stores and online.