A mum-of-two has created her own line of traditional Indian occasionwear after struggling to find outfits to suit the needs of breastfeeding mums. When Hemal Gokani from Oadby in Leicestershire had her first child, she said practical outfits for special occasions simply were not available.
With a number of weddings to go to during the time she was breastfeeding, she found herself frustrated at the lack of options. Hemal, 35, said she looked in local stores and online but could not find anything suitable. And she was not alone. “I asked lots of other women, including friends and family, and they all said the same thing – there was nothing out there.”
Traditional outfits such as a sari or lehenga – a two-piece outfit – include a blouse that is often well-fitting and adorned in embroidery with tricky fastenings that can be difficult to reach. Less than ideal for breastfeeding mums.
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“Breastfeeding can be a challenge for lots of mums and I was lucky because it was going really well for me so I didn’t want to have to stop, but I did consider stopping,” she added. Hemal faced the same challenge when she had her second child, her daughter, and had been pondering on the idea of making her own clothing line.
“I thought about it after I had my son but as a new mum you really don’t have much time,” she said. The mum of two added that with little time to pursue her idea with two young children, she often found herself “fighting fires”.
She said: “I’d go to one event and have to deal with struggling there and then I wouldn’t think about it again until the next wedding and lots of women are doing that – they’re just fighting fires each time.” I looked locally and outside of Leicester – even online, but I couldn’t find anything.”
When she eventually found time in between juggling being a new parent – usually while her children were napping or in the evenings – Hemal began to sketch a few designs. “I always had an interest in fashion and clothing and I had always been quite creative but I’ve never done anything like this before,” she said.
She launched her brand, named, Jiva, just before the pandemic – a difficult time for any business, let alone a start-up. But with wedding season back in full swing, the self-taught designer is seeing more women, facing the same struggles she did, come forward. “I really don’t want other mums to go through what I have had to.”
Hemal has designed a range of blouses that while being practical, are in keeping with modern trends and can be mixed and matched with other garments such as a sari or skirt. They have extra fastenings and openings that are discreet but allow the wearer to breastfeed with ease.
As Jiva continues to take off, Hemal will soon be expanding her line further to include complete outfits.