10 Questions with the Founders of Magical Bedlinen Brand Forivor

Junior caught up with Alice Ruby Ross and Rebecca Monserat, the founders of JDA winning interiors brand Forivor, to get the lowdown on their 80's childhood bedrooms, favourite books and what gets their design juices flowing...

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We’re huge fans of Forivor’s intricately illustrated, dreamscape style bed linens and muslins at Junior, which truly stand out from the crowd in a market that can often be trend driven and bland. With their incredibly original, imagination inspiring, environmentally friendly quilts, linens and nightwear, Forivor have won several Junior Design Awards and are now stocked in the hallowed halls of Liberty, a true mark of the beautifully crafted and magical feel of the brand.

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We caught up with friends and Forivor founders Rebecca Monserat and Alice Ruby Ross to find out where their dreams began and how they work as a team…

forivor portrait
Forivor Founders Alice RubyRoss and Rebecca Monserat

 1. You’re making a huge impact on childrens’ bedrooms with your distinctive beautiful bedlinens but what did your own bedrooms look like when you were little?

Alice: As a child of the 80’s my bedroom was far less thought out than most kids’ styled rooms in today’s world. Kids rooms were more of an extension of the rest of the house in some ways but my parents always had lovely things and my dad had painted a beautiful mural of on one of the walls, which I always looked at. The thing I remember most vividly about my room is a huge woven box, full to the brim with mostly hand-me-down toys. I would spend what seemed like an eternity emptying it, without doubt always finding some forgotten treasure and spare change at the bottom and then filling it back up again. We also had dodgy metal framed bunk beds which my sister and I thought were the best thing ever.

Rebecca: I’d say there wasn’t a cohesive style in my bedroom. I had a bed pushed up to my parents bed until I was pretty old (just like my daughter does now in our house) and then I shared with my brothers. Eventually though, I had my own space and my first proper bed which was a victorian iron bed frame. I remember positioning it on an angle out of the corner of the room and painstakingly making a bed canopy out of red velvet curtains and arranging bedside tables with all my precious trinkets and candles (we had no electricity) so it looked to me like a princess bed but in reality probably an extremely shabby chic version of one. My duvet cover was a lion themed jungle with pink flowers so definitely a mish-mash and definitely quite 80s!

ABOVE: Bedlinen from a selection at Forivor

2. What has been your proudest career moment?

Rebecca: The day we heard back from Liberty’s Head Buyer saying how much she loved our designs has to be up there! She was just so lovely and so positive about everything and realising that we were going to fulfil our dream of being in our favourite department store was pretty incredible. Equally as amazing though, has to be the feedback we get from parents and children about our bedding. It makes me feel incredibly proud when I think about all the lovely comments we have had over the years about how our bedding has become such a part of the fabric of family life and how much it brings in terms of the detail. We put so much care and attention into all the aspects of our design from the research to the illustrations to the stories and facts – so to hear it is appreciated is a wonderful feeling. My daughter Remie is also pretty proud of what we do and that makes me very happy!

forivor illustrated

1. Richard Scarry’s European Word Book, One of Alice’s favourite childhood reads. 2. My Family and Other Animals by Gerard Durrel, a memorable book from Rebecca’s childhood. 3. Rebecca graduated to a Victorian Metal bedstead when she got her own room. From a selection at First Dibs 4. Forivor’s dreamy bedlinen 5. Rebecca’s indispensable cookbook, Fresh India by Meera Sodha £20, Waterstones 6. Liberty Department Store

3. How did you survive lockdown at home with kids?

Rebecca: I tried to get the whole family out the door for a walk as soon as we could in the mornings (whatever the weather – rain is very rarely as bad as it looks and sounds out the window). A walk made me feel more energised and able to cope with everything a lockdown day threw at me and it always made the children happy even if they occasionally resisted at first. Remie has about seven fairies at various points on our walks that leave her little hedgerow surprises like seedlings, moss, flowers, nut shells, leaves and very occasionally a sparkly coin, a handwritten note or some chocolate. Even though a lot of her gifts are pretty simple it is amazing how much it fills her day with joy to find them (and she always leaves her fairies a little treat in return too). Other than that I was so lucky to have Alice who is always so understanding when I just have to prioritise my children and drop Forivor work for a little bit. I’m pretty convinced that feeling positive about work, parenting and your relationship all at the same time in lockdown was an almost unattainable goal, there may have been glimpses of it but in reality I felt like I swayed from being a good parent and not getting enough work done to having a great work day and feeling like I’d neglected my children. Mum guilt is such a tough one so I tried to be kind to myself and chatted about it with friends whose day usually sounded a lot like mine and that was always reassuring.

My daughter Remie has about seven fairies at various points on our walks that leave her little hedgerow surprises like seedlings, moss, flowers, nut shells, leaves and very occasionally a sparkly coin, a handwritten note or some chocolate. Even though a lot of her gifts are pretty simple it is amazing how much it fills her day with joy to find them (and she always leaves her fairies a little treat in return too).
Rebecca

8. What was your favourite book when you were a child?

Alice: I could spend a lot of time flicking through the pages of Richard Scarry’s European Word Book which l thought was brilliant because it created this amazing world of houses and animals and objects and tried to teach you other languages at the same time (although none of the language part seemed to stick with me). And then Jan Pienkowski’s ‘The Fairy Tale Library’ perfectly captured the cosy beauty and absolute terror of all the classic fairy tales for me with his incredible silhouetted artwork against marbled paper backdrops (If you haven’t ever seen these you can still get them and they are amazing).

Rebecca: I absolutely loved My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, it seemed so exotic to  me to travel to sunny, dusty Corfu and keep magpies for pets and teach them to talk. Lord of the Rings my dad read to us and I was terrified and entranced and Roald Dahl of course, was devoured cover to cover. We had this wonderful book called Trouble for Trumpets which is sadly no longer in print but there are definitely influences of the world of the trumpets in our Forivor designs.

4. What is your favourite family meal?

Alice: I have to say a curry that my family make that we affectionately call ‘hot mince’, it’s minced beef with potatoes, ginger, green chilli, indian spices and loads of coriander. It’s one of those simple dishes that just always reminds me of my childhood and acts as an instant tonic of comfort. My father is Indian with a very mixed heritage including Scottish and French – this dish always feels like it’s been created out of all these different places.

Rebecca: An almost impossible question as I love food and cooking so much and it really depends on the time of year, but I definitely like to travel through my cooking, particularly since moving from London to Wales and having less world foods available on our doorstep and now even more so in lockdown. The day to day recipe book I cannot live without is Meera Sodha’s Fresh India – we get a local vegbox every week and it is just the best way to find new ways to cook vegetables when your own inspiration runs dry. If I had to choose one meal I could eat everyday for the rest of my life (a favourite topic of conversation for me) I would probably choose a vegetable stir fry with tofu – fresh enough to always be appealing even on a hot day and hearty enough with plenty of ginger to satisfy the need for warmth in winter.

 5. Where would you most like to go when lockdown restrictions are over?

Alice: The first thing I really want to do is meet some friends at a restaurant somewhere in Borough market where we can sit outside, watch the world go by and talk over something fizzy with some fresh shellfish (and be completely overdressed). Second on the list is boarding the Eurostar to Paris for a roam around the flea markets on a Sunday. I have missed the treasures, people and atmosphere of car boots and flea markets so much. But of course really anywhere will do that I can see loved ones.

Rebecca: I have been dreaming of a dinner party with all my closest friends so anywhere that they are would be my first destination. I’d be happy to just be able to have them all at my house! I have been dreaming of taking my children on a long overland train journey (we don’t fly for environmental reasons anymore). In 2019 we went to Sardinia on the train and the ferry and it was brilliant but I’m setting my sights a bit further afield after being cooped up so long so a trip to the Atlas Mountains in Morocco or Istanbul for the sparkling and atmospheric Bosphorous – I’ve been to them both by train before and I’d love my kids to experience that.

6. What are the most important things you need to get your creative juices flowing?

Alice: Time! I’m afraid that I often rely on good old procrastination to help find my way creatively, although I’m still trying to work out if it’s my friend or my foe. Looking through some of my favourite artists’ work and children’s books is always a good source of inspiration and ideas. And finally I need to be well fed and watered, keep the snacks and the cups of tea coming…

Rebecca: I need to feel happy and healthy to feel creative and so often I feel like ideas come to me while I’m out walking in the mountains but equally I can be a bit of a night bird and once I get stuck into developing ideas for a project or a design I like the uninterrupted peace of nighttime working. The book for The Space Above the Ground collection which was written with one of my oldest friends Jen May While involved many late nights that’s for sure.

SATG_book_1
Forivor’s The Space Above the Ground Book that is packaged up with their quilts.

7. Where do you design your bedlinen?

Alice: The designs for the bedlinen happen in three different places in one sense. The ideas can come from visiting somewhere to research the wildlife, such as the Angelsey Sea Zoo which we visited to learn more about marine wildlife around the UK’s coast for our Legends of the Sea collection. I would then visit Rebecca in Wales to share ideas and decide what animals we want to include and what they might transform into. The final designs are drawn and painted in Ramsgate. I have a drawing board but have always preferred drawing on a dining room table, surrounded by books and my faber castell pens.

8. What was your favourite book when you were a child?

Alice: I could spend a lot of time flicking through the pages of Richard Scarry’s European Word Book which l thought was brilliant because it created this amazing world of houses and animals and objects and tried to teach you other languages at the same time (although none of the language part seemed to stick with me). And then Jan Pienkowski’s ‘The Fairy Tale Library’ perfectly captured the cosy beauty and absolute terror of all the classic fairy tales for me with his incredible silhouetted artwork against marbled paper backdrops (If you haven’t ever seen these you can still get them and they are amazing).

Rebecca: I absolutely loved My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell, it seemed so exotic me to travel to sunny, dusty corfu and keep magpies for pets and teach them to talk. Lord of the Rings my dad read to us and I was terrified and entranced and Roald Dahl of course was devoured cover to cover. We had this wonderful book called Trouble for Trumpets which is sadly no longer in print but there are definitely influences of the world of the trumpets in our Forivor designs.

9. What is your favourite book now?

Alice: I’ve started reading a lot more during lockdown and feel that my favourite book might still be out there waiting for me to find it. ‘Their Eyes were Watching God’ by Zora Neale Hurston is a book that I think I will have to come back to again and a book that has really stayed with me since reading it. I had to re-read passages again and again, because I enjoyed them and they gave you more each time you did.

Rebecca: My new years resolution was to start reading more again so I feel like that’s a hard question to answer as I just haven’t read enough since having children, but some older  favourites of mine are A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hasseini, The Glass Palace by Amitav Gosh and definitely Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Since Christmas, I have been getting in the bath just before my kids for ten minutes peace and to read a book. I’m half way through The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif and so far it’s the kind of book I really love, a mixture of history, travel and with a bit of romance for escapism and to keep my interest at the end of a long day.

forivor books

 1. Rebecca’s current read: The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif , £10.99, Waterstones 2. One of Alice’s favourite books: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston £6.99, Amazon

10. Tell us your favourite dream

Alice: It’s a cliche but of course I don’t think you can beat a flying dream, interestingly I think I had them much more regularly as a child. That feeling of soaring high in the sky and sometimes being able to control where you travel. It’s something I tried to recreate in our new Space Above the Ground design, that feeling of freedom and hovering above the earth.

Rebecca: I love dreaming about friends and family and people that I love, particularly at the moment. I lost my dad when I was 25 (Forivor is named after him) and I don’t dream about him regularly but it’s an amazing feeling if I wake up and feel like I’ve spent time with him in a dream.

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Baby Muslins, £24, Forivor