A mum-of-two has created her own line of traditional Indian outfits after struggling to find outfits suited to the needs of breastfeeding mums. When Hemal Gokani from Oadby in Leicestershire had her first child, she said practical outfits for special occasions were simply not available.
With a number of weddings to do while breastfeeding, she found herself frustrated with the lack of options. Hemal, 35, said she had searched local stores and online but found nothing suitable. And she was not alone. “I asked many other women, including friends and family, and they all said the same thing – there was nothing there.”
Traditional outfits such as the sari or lehenga – a two-piece outfit – include an often tight-fitting and embroidered blouse with delicate ties that can be difficult to reach. Less than ideal for nursing moms.
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“Breastfeeding can be a challenge for a lot of mums and I was lucky because it was going really well for me so I didn’t want to have to quit but I considered quitting,” she said. she added. Hemal faced the same challenge when she had her second child, daughter, and pondered the idea of starting her own clothing line.
“I thought about it after having my son, but as a new mom you really don’t have a lot of 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 would go to an event and face some hardship there and then I wouldn’t think about it until the next wedding and a lot of women do that – they’re just fighting fires at every time.” I searched locally and outside of Leicester – even online, but couldn’t find anything.”
When she finally found the time to juggle being a new parent — usually while her kids were napping or in the evening — Hemal started sketching a few drawings. “I’ve always had an interest in fashion and clothes and I’ve 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 tough time for any business, let alone a start-up. But with the return of the wedding season, the self-taught designer sees more and more women, facing the same difficulties as her, come forward. “I really don’t want other moms going through what I had to go through.”
Hemal has designed a range of blouses which, whilst being practical, are in line with modern trends and can be mixed and matched with other garments such as a saree or a skirt. They have additional closures and openings which are discreet but allow the wearer to breastfeed with ease.
As Jiva continues to take off, Hemal will soon expand its line to include full outfits.