Shabnam Kwofie, Amawrap
I love the story behind Amawrap and what it means to owner Shabnam Kwofie.
This is a product created with love and steeped in tradition. Shabs’s family, Indian in origin but from Uganda and her husband, a Ghanaian originally from Zambia have always known carrying.
“It’s not a big deal to families in Africa” she tells me it’s “just something you do”. This is illustrated perfectly during a family holiday a few years ago in Ghana when an ‘auntie’ scooped up their overtired toddler and wrapped him to her back. “I hadn’t met this lady and she didn’t know Micah but up he went and calmed down almost straight away.” A sling win!
Despite this heritage, Shabs didn’t know she was going to wrap her babies. She grew up in Leicester and was immersed in British culture. She discovered that being a new Mum, living in a first floor flat in London, recovering from a c-section and suffering from PND were not a great recipe for using a pram. Resourcefully she bought a large piece of stretchy fabric from the market and transformed it into a comfortable and practical baby wrap. Life was instantly easier and a close friend asked if she could have one made for her four week old. They were a striking pair in their burnished orange wraps walking around East London. Soon more Mums were asking if she could just ‘whip up’ a wrap for them and much to Shabs’s surprise they wanted to pay for them!
Amawrap was born and a business woman too. Shabs runs the business by herself, which she loves despite it being a huge challenge. She has her fingers in all the pies and knows how everything works; the manufacturing, marketing, sales and customer service. She is extremely proud that the product she makes is 100% cotton and made in the UK. I wanted to know how she went about getting them made and it turns out a good friend of hers worked in the garment industry and was able to help her make the right connections. Shabs didn’t work for Amawrap full time straight away but went back to work and juggled her job, the fledgling business and her young family, it was an exhausting time. After they moved out of London it made sense for her to commit to Amawrap full time so she could be at home and make her time work, rather than pay for childcare.
Shabs’s passion for her business is clear to see, her face lights up when she says how she and her husband “Love to honour” the tradition of babywearing with the Amawrap. It is a nod to their family’s culture and rich ancestry, this is why it’s called the Amawrap. Ama is their daughter’s ‘house’ name, a Ghanaian tradition with each child being given a christian name, house name and surname – it’s based on their sex and day of the week that they were born. I imagine that many of their customers are as delighted to hear of this as am I, but the other big challenge she faces is being a ‘small fish in a big pond’ and getting the story behind the product out to new families and potential customers. There are a lot of slings and baby wraps available and Shabs is busy trying to make herself heard in such a crowded market place. I know for many of us the person behind a product is as important as the other aspects (ease of use, safety and longevity to name a few), I feel that the more people know about the ingenuity, hard work and love behind the Amawrap the louder her voice will become.