My West London Life

Alice Whiteley


Alice Whiteley, founder and MD of nightwear and accessories brand Yawn, on obsessing over prints, filling a gap in the market and finding hidden whales

What first prompted the idea for Yawn?

Exhaustion! I was a busy working mum and went shopping for some pyjamas. In the process I saw a gap in the market for a colourful, characterful brand all about relaxation.

Are the designs mainly your own or do you outsource designers?

They are all our own and designed in our little studio in London. We take great pride in the design process and our designers hand draw or paint our designs. We obsess about colour and each print goes through a really lengthy process until we are happy—and we throw out many more than we keep!

Who is your typical customer?

Yawn attracts a fascinating cross-section of women of all ages—they tend to share an attitude, not an age. Our typical customer is a busy, curious and independent-minded woman. She loves creativity, design and discovering new brands.

Do you have an all-time favourite design?

I am most fond of Port in a Storm, which was one of our launch prints back in 2014 and has become a classic Yawn print. It has been a best-seller and it always makes me smile finding the hidden whale.


Could you describe your ideal night in?

Cooking a big dinner in advance for a large group of my family and friends so that we can relax together, catch up and ideally end the evening dancing!

How would you describe your style when not wearing pyjamas?

Smart but relaxed. You will rarely find me in skirts (though I love to dress up on occasion).

Other than Yawn, who are your favourite brands?

Cos, Des Petits Hauts and J Brand are three brands that I have recently bought lovely things from.

What motivates you?

Building a great team and enjoying the journey of creating a business from scratch. Creating special and thoughtful products that help other women to relax and feel good.

What is your ideal way to wind down?

I have become quite partial to a gin and tonic (definitely a sign of getting older) and have always enjoyed a bath with bubbles and a book.

Where is your favourite place in the world and why?

Salcombe in Devon, where we have had family holidays since I was little. My heart always beats slower when I am there and I feel a deep sense of happiness being near the sea and around so many memories from when I was young.


What is your career background? Were you always in fashion?

I am a newcomer to fashion. My background was in business. I started out as a management consultant at McKinsey. I had a great time working with big businesses but always wanted to set up my own.

Do you have a favourite west London restaurant or hangout?

I love owner-run independents when you can sense the passion of the owner—Santa Maria pizzeria in Ealing is wonderful, as is Charlotte’s Place and Munson’s (fab coffee shop).

Describe your ideal day:

Waking up slowly followed by a day exploring somewhere foreign with my family. I love it when we end up in new places and discover them together.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time? Any plans for world domination?

I hope that in 10 years time Yawn will be a thriving brand, in more of the world’s top stores and worn by women all over the globe—run by a fantastic team of talented individuals who work hard, contribute to society and have fun together.

Derek “DeCutter” Clement


Derek 'De Cutter' Clement, a renowned celebrity hairstylist, Afro hair care expert, and entrepreneur, was one of the UK's first black British hairstylists to have a West End Salon. Formally known for his dedication to black hair, which started in the early 80's, he worked with the legendary Splinters (one of the 1st Afro Hair Salons in the West End) which enabled him to style celebrities such as Billy Ocean, Patti Labelle, The Three Degrees and many more.

When you did you first develop a love for hairdressing and how did you get started?

My journey essentially started in the late ‘70s and onwards, and actually, hairdressing found me. The day that steered the wheel of destiny for me was when I accompanied my girlfriend to the hairdressers and while seated… Read more →

Paola Langella


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Can you tell us how your career in Pilates came about and what inspired you to make this your livelihood?

I approached the Pilates technique because I injured my neck during a dance show. I had two slipped discs at the cervical spine and I couldn’t move my left arm. All the doctors and osteopaths I… Read more →