North London Food & Culture

Ich Bin: Melanie Chiknagi, founder, Picklesuit

Ever dreamed of starting your own babywear? One woman did. We meet her

‘It would be nice to have my pre-baby figure back but I don’t beat myself up about it’. Photo: Melanie Chiknagi

After her second child was born and she still couldn’t do up the poppers on his babygrow, Archway-based Melanie Chiknagi decided to design her own, parent-friendly one. Named the Picklesuit, and tested on her own children, they are made in the UK with an innovative design that allows easy opening and closing. She also sources other fun, innovative products for children, and runs her business, Picklebee, from home.

When were you happiest?
Last Saturday. My husband woke up with the kids to allow me a little more time in bed. We had eggs for breakfast and then bundled up for a morning at Elthorne Park, with lunch at Rosse Cafe in Whitehall Park. Once the kids were in bed we cracked open a good bottle of red with a gammon joint for dinner that had been in the slow cooker all day.

Where would you like to live?
Exactly where we are now. Home is a lovely old Victorian house with plenty of space for everyone, a stained glass front door, and a glass roof in the kitchen. If we could change one thing it would be to have a bigger garden, but we’re happy with our lot.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
When we came to see the house for the first time, it was raining a little bit, and the pitter-patter on the glass roof sold it to me instantly. To this day, I find it an infinitely comforting sound.


St John's Tavern. Lovely. Photo: owner
St John’s Tavern. Lovely. Photo: owner
What is your earliest memory of the area?
My first date with my husband. I had spent the afternoon in the pub with my best friend, and somehow managed to be 45 minutes late to meet him. I didn’t expect him to still be there, but he was, standing outside Archway station waiting for me. He took me to St John’s Tavern, and well, the rest is history. I moved in with him three months later, and we have lived in the area ever since; so I only have very happy memories of N19.

Where do you hang out?
We spend a lot of time at Waterlow Park, and at local cafes like The Gate and Bread and Bean. In the evening if we stay local we love going to Nid Ting for amazing Thai food, or St John’s, The Oak and Pastor, or Trattoria Terra.

What do you hate and why?
Bad customer service. People spitting in the street. People letting dogs poop on the pavement and not cleaning it up.

What’s been your worst experience here?
Contracting bilateral mastitis after my daughter was born. I was very unwell and had to be hospitalised when she was a few weeks old. I was separated from her and that only added to the extreme pain that I was in.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
It would be nice to have my pre-baby figure back but I don’t beat myself up about it. Ultimately my body has produced two babies and I think that’s really rather awesome, so I have learnt to accept myself as I am a lot more these days.

The picklesuit in all its glory. Photo: Melanie C
The picklesuit in all its glory. Photo: Melanie Chiknagi
Tell us a secret.
In my previous life, I was a chartered surveyor.

What is your favourite dish and why?
Pasta for the absolute comfort that I find in it. Sushi for the days where I’m on the move and I want to eat light.

What did you do today?
My mum came over this morning and we took the kids to a cafe and then St John’s Wood. I’ve just put them to bed and just made a sweet potato and chickpea curry for dinner that’s bubbling away on the stove. Now I’m sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of white wine, looking through a pile of fabric swatches.

Speaking of which, where are the Picklesuits produced?
At the factory in Tottenham, so it’s easy to get to. I like to be present when they’re working on my babygrows. Using a British factory has been so refreshing and has allowed me to be very involved in the process from start to finish. Their work ethic and standard of work is second to none.

Melanie will be exhibiting the Picklesuit at The Baby Show at London ExCel from February 20th-22nd. Visit her online shop here

1 thought on “Ich Bin: Melanie Chiknagi, founder, Picklesuit”

Leave a Comment

1 thought on “Ich Bin: Melanie Chiknagi, founder, Picklesuit”

Leave a Comment

About Kentishtowner

The award-winning print and online title Kentishtowner was founded in 2010 and is part of London Belongs To Me, a citywide network of travel guides for locals. For more info on what we write about and why, see our About section.