Today, we chat to Alex Robledo and Michelle Holik the co-owners of Rolling Panda, a premium kids bedding brand also offering playmats and decor. The talented duo has combined their passion for art, design and fostering creativity to launch a range of products for children. “We want our products to be part of bedtime and playtime rituals, and in turn become part of childhood memories.”
We love Alex and Michelle’s focus on creating a brand that stands apart from the crowd and is true to itself. Their designs are a labour of love (much like parenting!), hand-painted and illustrated with incredible attention to detail. It’s a stunning collaboration by the two talented artists and we’re thrilled to share their debut range, Panda Dreams with you.
Tell us a bit about your brand and how Rolling Panda came about?
“We are Alex Robledo and Michelle Holik, artists, designers (and all the things!) at Rolling Panda. We’ve always talked about starting a business together but the idea for kids bedding and decor came about after doing some freelance work for another kids brand. We were both enjoying our work in that market and had so many of our own ideas so we thought let’s do this!
From concept to painting and drawing the elements, it’s a collaboration between the two of us. We work on the artwork together to achieve the finished design. Creating art is a very personal experience, so coming together has been both fun and challenging.”
What are some of your key philosophies?
“We believe in quality over quantity. In commercial design, it’s all about tight deadlines and it can become a ‘design on demand’ environment. For this reason, we knew that we wanted to take our time to complete a design and explore the artwork as we develop it. Whether it takes 3 weeks or 3 months to complete, we want to enjoy the process and create a beautiful result. So we invite our customers to create their own stories, whilst tucking their little panda into bed or during tummy time on our playmat. After all, storytelling is an intrinsic part of our human nature.”
“Our philosophy is to have fun and encourage exploring your imagination”
So tell us, why pandas?
“A panda is instantly recognisable and unique, which is what we wanted to convey through our branding and designs. It made sense to launch with our Panda Dreams design, but we won’t be restricting future designs to be exclusively panda themed.”
You come to this business with a wealth of experience between you, what has most surprised you about launching your own brand?
“You can have a great idea and the skills to create it, but then there’s all the rest that’s needed to bring it to life. Choosing every element from colour palette to swing tags and packaging has been a very different experience for us. Usually, as the designers our job is finishes when the design is complete. It has been a surprising and enjoyable experience every step of the way. We won’t lie, it hasn’t been without argument – working with your partner is both rewarding and challenging at the same time!”
Your core values lie in nourishing little ones through sleep and play (beautiful, by the way)- what do you do to nourish yourselves and your family?
“Our artwork is definitely a tool we use to nourish our ideas and expression. We’ve both always turned to creating art to explore our thoughts and use it as a way to ‘play’. Which is also part of our messaging to encourage kids and adults to do the same.
We take walks every day because we have a border collie and no choice in the matter! It is a time to switch off and enjoy one of the simplest things you can do in life – taking a walk. We love spending time with our family, and definitely like to watch a movie or two!”
I love that Rolling Panda is launching with a strong identity that doesn’t follow any particular trend – was this a planned strategy?
“Not so much a strategy just more of an instinct. After working in commercial homewares design for many years, we have seen how quickly trends can come and go, and in turn promoting a constant buying cycle for lesser quality items. We believe in buying better quality and buying less, investing in pieces that you’ll love and keep for longer. It’s also part of our process to just come up with ideas that we love and have some meaning to us, rather than looking at what everyone else is doing.”
How important is it to you to produce ethically, and how are you managing this inside your business?
“It is very important to us. We have partnered with a small factory overseas, and taken measures to ensure their production processes are ethical. To reduce waste we’re focusing on small batch production runs. We use digital printing processes over screen printing to reduce water usage, and it also uses less ink. Our wallpaper products (and coming soon – art prints) are printed in Australia, and made to order. We’ve designed our products to incorporate reusable fabric bags, and use recycled or compostable packaging where we can. We’ll be looking at how we can continue to improve in all areas as we grow.”
Quick Fire Q’s
(Instagram) Fave scroll stopper: @houselarsbuilt – can’t go past it for art and design inspiration, so colourful!
(Design Style) Less is more or more is more: More is always more, don’t hold back!
(Netflix) Can’t switch off: Schitt’s Creek, The Duchess
(Family) Defining moment in your family: Adding our fur baby Archie to our family 4 years ago, he’s the best boy!
(Mindfulness) Quote that best sums Rolling Panda up: “Wherever you are, be there completely” – Eckhart Tolle