I'm a (relatively) new mum of identical twin boys, who were born prematurely at 33 weeks' gestation and spent a month in special care before being able to come home (my little supersprogs!). I'm also a qualified lawyer with a previous successful career in sales.
My idea and my team
Since becoming a mum I have been party to many conversations amongst other mums about how they are struggling with self esteem and body image issues after giving birth, and how dreadfully mumsy and boring maternity clothing usually is.
Mental health has always been really important to me and understanding the importance for new mums of having some pride in their appearance and enjoying their clothing choices has motivated me to create something that will bring a smile to the faces of mums, as well as facilitating breastfeeding, which I, and many others, have found to be fraught with enough difficulties, without needing to worry about how you'll do it in public (or even at home with friends and family present), without exposing your entire chest!
I've also found that the vast majority of nursing wear is not suitable for tandem breastfeeding and often only caters for having access to one breast at a time. Without being able to find a brand on the market which deliberately caters for tandem breastfeeding (whether of twins or children of different ages), I felt compelled to create something that would make a difficult job much easier!
Initially I'll be launching a range of un-mumsy hoodies, drawing inspiration from the super fun designs that I've seen in my babies' clothing and which has often left me thinking "I wish I could wear clothes like that!".
I'm working with an independent clothing designer, Annette Lennerup (also a mum, who breastfed), to develop fun, simple designs for hoodies in the first instance, ensuring an ethical, fair trade and modern slavery-free supply chain. Our photographer is also a mum who breastfed!
I've developed a novel, stylish, and extremely useful detachable bib, which affixes to the shoulders of the hoodies. This has three-fold benefits: 1) When burping a young baby on your shoulder, if it should sick-up, you can simply remove the dirtied shoulder-bib from the jumper, to avoid the need to clean the entire hoodie (when laundry is already a full-time job!) or change your top, 2) The bibs can be removed and worn by babies to catch any initial sick to save their own clothes (or indeed to be used as a bib while they have a snack), and 3) each hoodie comes with two different colours of bib, so you can change to suit your style/mood.
The style of the hoodies is also a USP - un-mumsy breastfeeding hoodies, that are designed to fit and be worn far beyond the initial few weeks after birth.
Thirdly, they are all designed with tandem breastfeeding in mind.
Fourthly, I care a LOT about sustainability and the environment, so the tags are attached with string/safety pins, and all will be posted in recyclable packaging.
My vision is for mums to be able to enjoy wearing clothes that enable them to easily breastfeed and that aren't easily identifiable as 'nursing wear' or designed to fit pregnant women (and therefore hugely unflattering). I want to facilitate breastfeeding for more babies and for longer, and will be donating 5% of net profits to The Twins Trust (to further the work they do in supporting parents of multiples), and a further 5% of net profits to Breastfeeding Twins and Triplets UK (who provide thousands of mums with invaluable real-time, coal-face support through their tireless work via Facebook and who I give full credit for supporting me in breastfeeding my twins).
There are over 10,000 pairs of twins born each year in the UK, many more mums breastfeed toddlers and babies of differing ages at the same time, and I'm yet to meet any mums who found any breastfeeding clothing they like!
There were 657,076 babies born in the UK in 2018 and the WHO recommend breastfeeding for 2 years and beyond) so the market is huge (even taking into account that not all mums breastfeed). So little is done by clothing companies to focus on that market - I want to be the first to focus solely on making life easier and happier for ALL breastfeeding mums.
How I'll Use the Money
The money will pay for design development of up to 5 different designs and colourways for mothers to choose from initially, with any surplus going into developing a greater variety of unmumsy and tandem breastfeeding-friendly clothing for the summer months.
Further down the line I also have some great ideas for breastfeeding accessories to assist with the difficulties that I faced, that I'd also like to develop and bring to other mums in need of help.