The 24-year-old who wants her clothing business to break down barriers for breastfeeding mums
PUBLISHED: 09:02 22 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:20 22 March 2020
A mum who struggled to find fashionable breastfeeding-friendly clothes has come up with her own designs and is seeking the public’s support to help launch her business.
Elis Merton, 24, from Pebmarsh, near Sudbury, kept finding it more and more difficult to find nice clothes to wear while feeding her baby girl Penelope, now 11 months old.
In search of a dress for her brother’s wedding in Italy, she returned nine outfits as none of them were suitable.
The sports massage therapist had no background in design, but enjoyed sewing as a hobby, so she got her sketch book out and sewing machine in a bid to solve the problem.
She’s come up with a brand, called Mumma by Nature, which is all about breastfeeding-friendly clothes that don’t look like nursing wear.
Elis also hopes to keep the discussion going about breastfeeding so it isn’t a taboo and more women feel comfortable doing it, even if their baby is getting older.
MORE: Should there be more breastfeeding support for mums? New figures show decline after six weeks
She said: “Although attitudes towards breastfeeding has improved as a whole, there’s still a lot of work to be done. The stigma puts a lot of ladies off feeding in public, or sometimes all together because of the fear of judgement.
You may also want to watch:
“I’m hoping, with some clothes that make mums feel a little bit more like themselves again, they can feel comfortable and feed easy, and I can help stop just a little bit of that fear.”
Elis said she “loves” breastfeeding her daughter, but had had a couple of occasions in public where people have moved table when she started to feed, even though she was completely covered, or made comments like: ‘oh still feeding, she should be on real food. She’s just using you as a dummy’.
MORE: Mum breastfeeding baby in cafe told by fellow customer: ‘You’re putting me off my teacake’ breastfeeding baby in cafe told by fellow customer: ‘You’re putting me off my teacake’
“That’s just people not understanding,” she said, adding: “As well as getting all the nutrition, it’s her safe space and I’m her comfort”.
Elis, who lives with her partner Adam Roffey, a personal banker, is part of a competition run by the bank NatWest called Back Her Business, with a top prize of £10,000 to help launch her company if she wins.
She has been crowdfunding and hopes with people’s support by sharing her page she can become a finalist.
Elis sketches her clothing designs and they are made into patterns. Any funding she raises will allow her to take it further through the manufacturing stage and place her first ever order.
She hopes her clothes can be made in the UK with environmentally-friendly packaging.
To support her see here.