Starting this business was not a lifelong plan for me. In fact after working in retail as a teenager and during school and university holidays, having a shop was the last thing on my choice of careers! But what did inspire me was the products and philosophy that we could share.
Born, for me, is not really about shopping. If you ask James or any of my friends they will tell you that I actually don’t like spending hours traipsing around high streets or shopping malls. I’d rather have someone do my shopping for me. What Born is about is imparting information to parents that they would not find through the usual channels we are directed through when we are having a baby.
When I found out about the potentially harmful chemicals that are contained in the big brand toiletries and baby foods I was shocked. How could these companies knowingly put these things in contact with our babies? The problem is they weren't reading the same things I was, so did not think they were an issue. Or perhaps they do know but choose to ignore the fact because the ingredients they use are so much cheaper? I however read magazines and articles that questioned the safety of such additives and knew that there was no way I was going to risk having them anywhere near my baby.
It angered me that I could not get hold of these products in any shops, and had to send off to mail order companies, so on a whim I talked about my idea to have a nursery and baby store like ours to my sister Georgina, who had worked in retail since she was 16 and was at that time an area manager in women’s fashion retail. She agreed that we should give it a go and so Born was born.
Prior to starting Born I set up the Bristol Real Nappy Information Service. We went around ante-natal classes in Bristol showing off the wide range of washable nappies that were then only available via mail order companies. This was done in a voluntary capacity but we successfully obtained a grant for expenses and to produce the Real Nappy Guide. A booklet that helped demystify what real nappies were and how to use them.
This went on to be administered by Bristol Council who now give parents a financial incentive to use washable nappies because disposable nappy waste costs the council tax payer £millions every year to dispose of and landfill sites are not best equipped to deal with pooh and wee. Now there are councils all over the country that run similar schemes.
Prior to having Maya my last full time job was at the Financial Times in London. I moved to Bristol when I was pregnant with her as James and I decided that Bristol would be a healthier and cheaper place to bring her up. I wanted to stay at home with her for at least the first year, an option that would not have been possible had we stayed in London.
When I was pregnant with Maya I sought out Active Birth classes and found the amazing Dominique Sakoilsky who now runs her very own ante-natal teacher and Doula training called ‘Relaxed Birth and Parenting.’ It has been my privilege to know Dominique – she has so much knowledge and is incredibly generous in sharing that. I learnt more from her in those classes that I did from any book, NHS class or NCT class. I’ve since been involved in helping Dominique to grow her trainings and am now Non-Executive Director to her and her business partner Louise Bennett. This year they are expanding into London with the help of Janet Balaskas, who thinks their approach is the next big thing and is going to join with them to bring their training into the world in a big way. Exciting times ahead.
In those classes with Dominique I learnt the importance of taking responsibility for my pregnancy and birth experience. I had planned a home birth with Maya but that didn’t work out. We ended up in hospital with an epidural. In hindsight it was inevitable that that was going to happen; I was far too much in my head so subsequently my body could not get on with labouring. If I knew then what I know now my birth experiences would have been so different. Thankfully I learnt enough from that experience to know that if I wanted a home birth next time I would need to do things differently and so employed an Independent Midwife for Jacob’s birth. I got what I planned that time. A lovely home water birth.
The difference in that birth was that with Jacob I bonded with him immediately. I believe that when we allow the natural endorphins to kick in our body accesses that part of ourselves that instinctively knows how to birth and to mother. The whole chemistry of birthing and mothering is not talked about in parenting classes but I think is the key to it all. It’s something I know Relaxed Birth and Parenting teaches but is not addressed in the normal ante-natal classes.
When I was 13 I watched a documentary on the BBC about Michel Odent’s birth centre in France, this inspired me want a home and water birth. Like him I believe that women know intuitively what they need to birth as they should and when that process is interfered with or not nurtured things are more likely to go wrong. Being too much in your head rather than being allowed to go inwards into the primal part of our brain that switches on when in labour is exacerbated by bright lights, talking to people, unnecessary monitoring and a whole host of other interventions women are subjected to.
When I watch kids programmes about animals with Jacob about zoos I’m always fascinated (and a little annoyed that they don’t apply this logic to humans) at how the zoo keepers leave labouring animals alone are so careful to not interfere with the bonding process right after birth. They know that the mother and baby need to be left alone (preferably in the dark) with as little interference as possible because if they don’t the mother is likely to reject the baby. In humans our inability to let nature take its course manifests with poor bonding, poor initiation of breastfeeding and post-natal depression.
If you had to label our kind of parenting style you’d probably call it Attachment/Continuum style parenting. The main themes of which are bonding, bed-sharing, baby carrying, and breastfeeding. I like to think of it as parenting the way we would do if no one told us how to. I say that because it’s how my mum and dad parenting me and my sisters as babies. My mum would have been parenting in that way by her mother, my grandmother. I’d probably add to that taking ownership of your birth, something my mum didn't have much say in, although she did have a cesarean with my big sister and then went on to have 2 VBACS with Georgina and myself, and that was 40+ years ago!
I believe that unless we make a conscious decision to do things differently we will parent the way we have been parented as that’s what we remember either consciously or on a subconscious level. So for me it was normal to parent the way I did. It was only when I was pregnant with Maya and though what I had picked up as cultural British norms when growing up that I realised that the Brits do things differently! I was born and raised in the UK but my parents moved here in 1970 from Kenya but we have a Goan heritage. In India it is the norm to bed-share, keep your baby close, and breastfeed (although these things are changing due to the influence of the west, especially TV).
I remember an incident when Maya was 4 months old that exemplifies what my parents must have been like with us. We were at my parent house and Maya was asleep in the bedroom and I was in the room next door with my dad watching TV. She woke up and started to cry, over the noise of the TV I didn't hear her but as soon as my dad did he shouted (and I mean shouted at me!) “Can’t you hear your baby’s crying! Go and see her!” I jumped to attention and went to get her. They don’t believe a baby cries for no reason. By contrast I have heard so many mums say that their parents told them to leave their baby to cry so that they did not spoil them.
I went on to become very interested in Attachment theory and read the Continuum Concept and many other research based articles on the subject. This reinforced what I innately knew to be right for us. However I also think that as humans we have a belief and then back that belief up by the things we read and the company we keep. Our friends tend to be like us don’t they?
It was because of that that I went to La Leche League meetings and the set up the Bristol Attachment Parenting list, an email way for parents with similar beliefs to meet one another.
This term if often mentioned in the Alternative parenting press. For me it means questioning what everyone says and listening to your own innate sense of knowing. So for everyone the decisions they make will be different. I like to think that the decisions I have made have not been made out of fear but from a place of love, that might sound a bit corny but for me it’s true. The way you approach something when you have adrenalin rushing though you is very different to when you have peace and rationality on your side.
So much of what we do when we are pregnant is emotive, and as naive first time parents we don’t want to get it wrong. Unfortunately there are a lot of baby goods suppliers who prey on that and sell you a lot of stuff that you don’t really need. I am proud to say that we don’t sell anything that is not useful and where equipment is concerned is built to last. Likewise Health professionals can fear you into making decisions that may not be in your or your baby’s best interest so consulting complimentary practitioners or other independent sources is essential. It’s because of my belief that we need to take responsibility for our own health that I would always be recommending great practitioners to our customers, but when we had far too many to display on our notice board I set up an online resource called Born Together.
Imparting this knowledge to people by working with practitioners who know this, like those on Born Together, is for me what Born is about. And it’s what motivates me to grow the business, because if when buying your Tripp Trapp or Bugaboo a little bit of what we’re about trickles in then it would have been worth it. Less mothers suffering from post-natal depression and more babies being breastfed are just a couple of things we are a stand for.
Before Born my life was oh so not green or healthy. Today I can laugh about that & can still be a little naughty sometimes. I love shopping. I worked in fashion retail for over 20 years. It just made sense for Eva & I to put our experience & knowledge together and open Born. An on line business from our front room was also very much on the cards. It certainly would have been a better financial move for us. But how would you, the customer, be able to see, touch & feel the product or talk to staff for 20 minutes to 2 hours or more if needed? Our personal service approach is something money cannot buy. You certainly can't click conversation into your shopping basket!
I entered retail like many young students as a Saturday sales advisor at 16. Some many years later after a career in retail management Eva approached me, when I had just been made redundant, got divorced & knew life was somehow going to take a very different direction for me.
“Open a baby shop? no way!” was my answer. For me it was time to get out of retail. However one thing I learnt very young is passion has to come from within. From the heart is the base and foundation on how we set up the business and still 10 years on how we run & manage Born
Eva’s love & passion to want to support & help other parents to know what she learned was enough for me to know Born could make a difference.
I had my daughter when Born was 6 years old so Keira was brought into an already safe haven for me. I was very lucky for a new mum. I was pregnant in Bristol & have great respect for the people who supported me there & helped me though my 9 month journey.
A new baby, so much to learn, so much to do and it’s 24/7. Juggling & sleep deprivation would be an understatement. Being a parent, the hardest job you will ever do but certainly the most rewarding.
Born in Stoke Newington was opened when my daughter was 6 months; old wrapped onto me in a good sling. For any parent now with a 6 month old I don't have any memory of how we got through those first few months. I just know the passion for doing what we do at Born drove me & moved me in many ways.
We really do understand at Born just how scary, even though so exciting & exhilarating your experience can or will be. We pride ourselves on working with honesty and integrity.
We share what we know from our life stories. We do also appreciate every parent like every baby & child is an individual & very different.
Having a baby will rock your world like you cannot ever image. You will get advice from friends family the professionals etc etc. Listen to your heart & do what you want for your baby & your family. No answer is the right answer.
To watch this little being grow from just feeding on your breast milk is truly mind blowing (even when it feels like you are just a milking machine) The books don't tell you that!!!
From my previous retail experience and shopping as a customer, customer service is never quite what I think it should be. At Born weather in store or on the phone it is very important to us that every customer is dealt with professionally and enjoys the shopping experience. We have so much information that we are always happy to share with you in conversation and with our time.
I hate being in a store when you are talking to staff and they just don’t know or often don’t understand the product they are selling. Perhaps they don’t really care if the customer is truly happy or satisfied. At Born a lot of time and effort is invested in staff training and ensuring good product knowledge is given to all our team. It is so important to fully understand the benefits and features of any item you purchase. If at Born we don’t know the answer we will do all that we can to find out and give you, the customer, the correct information.
We also pride ourselves in only selling products that we will use, or have used on our own children. This way you can be sure it has had a good test run. And we do not stock any product without thorough research. If it’s not good enough for our families and our children, or if we do not believe in the product 100%, we question, “why should we sell it?” We love the products we now share with our customers. Finding the right product is very important and more so when it is for your first baby or adding to your family. We will also maintain to always support ethical fair trade products from manufactures that hold the same beliefs and values as the team at Born. Something we are very passionate about.
I look forward to being able to help make the right choices, should you shop with us at Born.
I have two children. I was born in Jamaica, I practised as a child protection lawyer for some time, as well as training as a cabinet maker and also being a community mediator and peer mediation trainer.
I spent a year teaching English and learning a lot in India and then worked in the voluntary/ community sector in Bristol for many years. My boys are aged 16 and 11. Both were born at home and raised in an attachment parenting kind of way. (hail Relaxed Birth and Parenting director, Dominique Sakoilsky for starting me thinking in those terms) I’m very keen on children getting the best start in life possible, which is why I helped start the Bristol Home Birth Group and what I love about Born. It is a hub for information and/or signposting for those who want to know about all sorts of aspects of parenting, from breastfeeding to the benefits of reusable nappies and baby carrying.
I met Eva through the Natural Nurturing Network, and we have been friends ever since.
My second son was born in water, which was the prompt for me to start my own heated birthing pool hire business twelve years ago. In fact it was Eva who suggested the idea to me and the business later became part of Born before it was sold on.
I am now a Director of Born and take care of the customer service side of things, which has always been the part I enjoy most of any job I've done.
I also keep my hand in with Community Conflict resolution and part manage an inter-generational mediation project for an organisation called Community Resolve, based in Easton in Bristol. The project brings younger and older mentors/mediators together to re-establish positive communication between young people and their parents or carers where there is serious breakdown and /or the young person is likely to leave home or be chucked out.
I also still absolutely love woodwork and DIY, though it is starting to hurt a bit these days.
I was born in Vienna and grew up outside the UK' as my parents worked for the UN, coming back to the UK to finish my schooling and go to University. After completing a degree in Law I worked in the City before having my first child in 2001. Whilst pregnant with my second child I took voluntary redundancy and we moved to Bristol. I employed an Independent midwife for my first birth; due to pre-existing back injuries getting worse during the birth, I had my second child by c-section. We then had two more children – yes, 4 kids – in 2005 and 2009 at home with a Bristol Independent midwife. A loud household full of shouting and laughter!
After my son’s birth I set up Big Mama Slings, as part of my quest to find the perfect sling. I had always been a great believer in natural birth and breastfeeding, and had discovered attachment parenting with my first baby. Right from the start, I was attracted to the idea that what felt instinctive was also backed up by research. It made such perfect sense! Our family tries to follow a responsive and natural path in our parenting wherever possible, which is an ongoing learning process as our children grow and change. Safe baby carrying is a passion of mine; to encourage parents to practice this I set up the UK Sling Consortium and supported the creation of T.I.C.K.S, a quick guide to carry your baby safely in a sling.
After moving to Bristol, I was lucky to meet Eva at a local La Leche League meeting. I had already shopped at Born - in fact, my first 'proper' sling was bought in the shop! Over the years we purchased many toys, clothes and nursery items for our children, which have now found a new home with my sister's baby. Part of the reason I love Born is that the owners care about how long things will last, rather than buying stuff that will fall apart and keep you coming back to replace it. This is quite unusual in the retail world.
I feel like I have the best job at Born – I’m in charge of sourcing new products – so effectively I shop for a living! I also am updating the website as it is growing, changing the descriptions and co-ordinating with our designers to make sure you have as easy a shopping experience as possible. All of this involves a lot of visiting trade shows and suppliers, as well as seeing what our competitors are up to; it is very rewarding, especially when the new stock arrives in the stores. I especially love ordering the stock for Christmas and seeing all the wonderful toys; the parents who shop with us seem to love this time of the year too, which makes it a lot of fun.
In my spare time I love to lift weights and have lots of fun at Crossfit. I also am a big fan of Paleo eating, and enjoy cooking, as well as reading. I am also a qualified BabyCalm teacher, offering both ante- and post-natal classes and consultations in the Bristol area.