A midwife from Ruddington has achieved national recognition after designing a fashion top which allows women to breastfeed babies discreetly in public. Olivia Swift has just received the Bronze award in “The Best of British for Parents” category of Mumii UK‘s “Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards” 2017!
Although not previously a fashion designer, nor a mum herself, Olivia told RUDDINGTON.info that she became inspired to create the special top – made out of a translucent chiffon material – during her midwifery training at The University of Nottingham. It was there she began to hear about the problems women can sometimes face with public breastfeeding – so wanted to design a product to help:
“There have been countless stories in the press (and still continue to be) regarding women being told to cover up or even leave premises because of breastfeeding. You may remember the La Leche league protest outside of Sports World on Clumber Street a couple of years back after a woman was told to leave whilst feeding” says Olivia. “Various women I know and those I have cared for have also told anecdotes of feeding in toilets as they don’t feel comfortable or confident feeding in public. The UK has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates and I think that because some people are not so accepting and uneasy with public feeding is perhaps a contributing factor to this, as women can consequently feel uncomfortable.”
As for her company Lotus Maternity? “The garments are manufactured in Nottingham City Centre but I run the business from home, which is in Ruddington. I have always lived here. I started working on the products and the brand this time last year and officially launched at ‘The Baby Show’ at London’s Excel in March this year.”
Things have moved very quickly for Olivia, who adds “I’m really proud and overwhelmed with the award, especially as I am just starting out. The ‘Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards’ are massive within the nursery industry and, if you walk into Mothercare and brands have won one of these awards, they make a big deal of it, and it’s something they showcase about their products. It’s essentially a stamp of approval that you have a fantastic product recognised by parents who have tried and tested an abundance of products. Hundreds of products enter the awards, so just to be shortlisted was a huge achievement and to walk away with an actual award is phenomenal!”
Earlier this week Olivia was in the Ruddington Arms with three, local, young mums (and their three hungry babies!) to film a product video for the website “..to give a demonstration of how the tops work in relation to breastfeeding. Although it is a fashion item, it is predominantly a purpose built product! So I wanted to shoot a lifestyle video with real mums and babies showing them feeding in the tops and all of the babies fed that morning – which was fantastic!” NEXT she plans to work on getting the brand more well known to the general public: “I have more ideas for future designs but do not plan on working with my manufactures yet on those until Lotus Maternity becomes more established in the market place.”
She’s certainly going the right way about it – managing to land herself a prime time slot with Frances Finn on BBC Radio Nottingham yesterday to talk about her tops! You can listen back online to Olivia’s full interview (for the next 28 days) via BBC iPlayer Radio >>HERE<<.