It is with a heavy, yet hopeful heart, that I have decided to close our Ubuntu Baba boutique in Westlake. Deep inside I think I knew this was coming for weeks now, but it just didn’t seem real until we got down to the details. (Our online shop and factory will continue as per normal.)
This little 65m space, nested in the heart of Westlake, up against the beautiful mountains – with just the perfect distance between the city centre and the deep south, has been the connection point for so many new Moms over the last 2 and a half years.
I remember the first time I saw the space, a big empty room with beautiful brick walls and high ceilings. I could just see what would be possible there and I knew I would sign that lease.
I spent hours on Pinterest, deciding what would go where and how I would make the space feel like a home. I wanted it to ‘hold the space’ as all our friends from the midwifery industry would say – to just help Moms feel as comfortable as possible to sit, be, breastfeed, cry, laugh and go “what the fk just happened to me?!”
We installed a beautiful kitchen so that we could make endless cups of coffee (thanks to my sister Kristin for helping me design it – we even took into account parking space for prams, sharp edges so babies didn’t hurt themselves etc, what a learning curve!), we got our friend Tiana to bake her most delicious home baked muffins, we had Soraya and Olivia come in on Fridays to give relaxing massages to our Moms while they listened to different speakers to help them through their 4th trimesters.
We had Sian host her very popular pre and post-natal yoga classes, birth workshops and baby massage classes. One of our friends launched her beautiful new Belly Bowl business there, we had market days where we brought in other brands and had hundreds of Moms come and shop with a glass of bubbles. Too many good times to mention them all.
The amount of tears that have been cried between those walls, the amount of hugs that have been given, and the amount of Moms that have found hope again. It makes me very emotional thinking about closing those doors, but I also feel content that it is okay and that we can always open doors again somewhere else.
It was such a transformative space – it felt like the heartbeat of our business and it gave us the confidence to fight for the livelihood of our business too.
One monumentous experience that comes to mind is how we used that space to give us the confidence to meet Woolworths head on. I never thought we’d share that story but I think it’s important now, given the times, to show the importance of small businesses and the MASSIVE role they play.
When our blog post went viral and they finally decided we were worth setting up a meeting with, they invited us to their corporatey head office, down in the CBD. I remember how scared I was to go down there, and then I thought – no, they screwed up, they must come to us.
We prepped that little space to the max, incense, candles, ambient music, so that it was comfortable for us, so that we could show them that we aren’t JUST a baby carrier business, but that this little product has a personality and a purpose in the world – and that by copying us they weren’t just taking away work and jobs, because small businesses are worth so much more than that.
The 2nd meeting with them was my favourite, because girrrl… we brought babies. Our Babywearing educator at the time, Sammy – rocked up late to the meeting (coz baby) – and she arrived a gorgeous hot mess with her baby in the carrier and all the Mom stuff – if I could have taken a photo in that moment, aaah the joy that filled my heart, watching a Mom rock up to the 2nd business meeting we’d ever had in that shop, while the media was frothing on what would go down in that meeting – and there she was – the shining beautiful example of what Motherhood actually looks like. I LOVED IT.
She came in smiling, setup all her gear so that her baby was happy, then moved in and said boldly, “Right, let me show you why your version of OUR baby carrier is unsafe for newborn babies.” That space gave her the confidence to stand up to them, on behalf of all the Mothers she had helped to date, and on behalf of our small business. What a beautiful moment. Thank you Sammy.
I bring this up because I want to remind everyone that meeting up, in real life, is important.
Spaces hold energy. And memories, and potential, for creative thought and for the birthing of new ideas. Spaces bring people together – people from different backgrounds, circumstances and upbringings. Spaces remove people from their comfort zones, and bring them into new zones – for the potential to meet other people, to connect and start new friendships.
The main reason we’ve decided to close our Boutique:
I know there are a lot of spaces closing their doors at the moment. The reason we are closing is because this space cannot operate on social distancing. Our events were our lifeblood and without them we’re simply losing too much money to rent.
I am also not willing to bring new Mothers into a space where their faces must be masked, where we cannot hug one another or hold each others babies. That is not what being human is about. Being human is about love and touch.
So I will sit in this ‘gap’ of life and wait patiently for love to rise, and for touch to be allowed, because it will. (When I say wait patiently, I obviously mean meditate, draw angel cards, sage, chant, dance, full moon rituals, etc. 😉 )
To end off this post, I want to thank a few special people who helped make this space what it is, and I’m so nervous writing this because I know I will leave many names out, but just know that I appreciate every single person who contributed, these are just a few of the many experiences that are coming to mind.
Cisco – my design partner for the little cages on the walls that hold the stock. I mean we had the most fun in the world designing those little babies. You have such vision, loved working with you.
Graeme – for the heaviest oak desk in the world. We will enjoy finding a way to transport that out of there, haha, but it has been the perfect little home for Megan and her shop lifestyle and such a well thought out piece.
Nadine – for the hand-painted metallic gold mandala painting on the wall. My soul. You know how much this means to me. Everything.
Heléne – for all the sneaky behind-the-scenes photos you’ve taken, I could print an album. I might!
Livvy and all the models – the gallery of picture frames on the wall with all our Mama friends who met us at wine farms and interesting locations for photoshoots – so much fun – and the giver of the fun: Livvy. I mean. No words. Just gratitude.
Russell from Swimz – thank you for sharing your parking spaces with us so we didn’t have to rent any from the complex – you ROCK and may the day return very soon where you can teach babies to swim again.
All the speakers – you shared your time and your wisdom with so many Moms who needed it. Thank you for giving of yourselves.
My Megan. Shoo. I’ve left you until last, because without you, your welcoming smile, your willingness to give of yourself to help others feel more comfortable. This space would not have become what it did. I’ve received the most beautiful emails from Mothers who spent weeks attending the 4th Trimester Chats, and felt like changed humans afterwards. This is because of you and what you made possible in that space. Thank you Megs.
In closing, I want to say that although my chest feels heavy writing this post, knowing that Friday is the last day, I also anticipate a sense of relief. I didn’t feel great with that space sitting empty. I hope that the next small business that fills that space experiences as much love there as we did, and I know that as a business, this is the right decision and we will find a way to connect and support our Moms once again, just in a different space and different time.