x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Treats for little treasures

A handful of UAE-based mums are putting their experience and creative talents to good use and handcrafting unique, bespoke products for sale at events such as the Arte Souk and Ripe Food and Craft Market.

 Desert Roses are a range of vintage-inspired headbands and hair clips designed by the South African mum Janine Plum. Courtesy Desert Roses
Desert Roses are a range of vintage-inspired headbands and hair clips designed by the South African mum Janine Plum. Courtesy Desert Roses

Looking for stylish, bespoke baby stuff with a difference? The British mum-of-three Maha Mostafa’s Little Farasha range of bibs and bags features Emirati headgear – although probably not how you’d expect to see it.

The dribble bibs handcrafted from kaffiyeh fabric serve both a practical and a decorative purpose. “All my babies started teething ­early so they always needed to wear a bib,” Mostafa says. “I’d get so frustrated when I’d go to so much effort to put together trendy outfits, only to cover it all up with some unattractive bib.

“I used nap time as an opportunity to raid my Emirati husband’s cupboard and my craft stash and I made two bibs for my sons to wear at a party that afternoon; they got so much attention and the orders started coming.” After the success of the bibs, Mostafa extended the Little Farasha line to include miniature bags made from gutras, complete with tassel and cord, as well as handmade nursing covers in stylish fabrics.

Mostafa is one of several UAE-based mums handcrafting bespoke products that are available for purchase at local events such as the Arte Souk and Ripe Food and Craft Market.

With the UAE increasingly promoting the benefits of breast­feeding, Wendy Francis-Best, a British mum with two children, was inspired to create her Love By Jo nursing covers, which double up as stylish scarves, and breastfeeding necklaces designed to help babies focus on their feed.

“I couldn’t find a nursing cover that was discreet and non-creasing and could be put to other uses instead of just being thrown in a nappy bag. And I’m aware that sometimes babies can’t focus within the mother’s boundary during feeding when the outside world can be more stimulating,” she says. “I’m passionate about encouraging mums to enjoy their breastfeeding experience, so providing stylish items which help public feeding is my contribution.”

Melanie Gissing, the founder of Maddy&Eva handmade children’s clothing, says her search for simple cotton dresses for her twin girls to wear to nursery inspired her to create her own, using her background in fashion and textiles.

“Maddy&Eva is a boutique children’s clothing brand for boys and girls age 3 months to 8 years,” Gissing explains.

“The clothes are all designed with the warm weather in mind and are all made from quality 100 per cent cotton and linen, using gorgeous plain, floral and polka dot fabrics and any other unusual prints that come my way.”

Dressing her own two daughters was also the starting point behind Desert Roses, a range of vintage-inspired headbands and hair clips designed by the South African mum Janine Plum.

“I draw my inspiration from beautifully handcrafted goods, using lace, pearls and soft fabrics such as velvet and satin,” she says. “My girls also inspire the styles of headbands I create, as they are both different in looks and styles and with what suits them.”

Then there’s Bibs Boutique, which offers a range of bandanna-style bibs handmade by the British mum Kirsty Fitzpatrick. “I started to make bandanna bibs when a friend kept complaining her little boy was going through three or four tops a day through dribbling and she couldn’t get any bibs as they were all too babyish for him,” she explains.

“I’d seen them produced in the UK by crafters and, as I had a vast collection of fabrics, I started experimenting with different patterns and materials. I started with newborns but as I’ve had so many requests, the range now includes clothes for kids up to the age of 3.”

Fitzpatrick also crafts a range of soft toys, door stops, hair clips and children’s accessories under her Kirsty’s Krafts brand.

Also available are Buttoned With Love nursery decorations handmade by the British mum Vicki Ashlin. “I wanted something bespoke and personal,” she says. “So I made pictures for my daughter’s bedroom using buttons and three-dimensional paper hearts, and people started asking me to make them.

“You can add your own inspiration and have a unique personalised gift.” Ashlin then came up with Tooty Cutie, a range of ­custom-made tutus in a rainbow of colours.

As Mostafa points out, buyers are getting that little bit more for their money when they buy handcrafted goods. “You’re buying more than just a commodity,” she explains. “We do what we do because we love it and that’s reflected in our ­products.”

Francis-Best agrees. “With handmade products, you’re not purchasing a mass-produced item but supporting someone’s passion, creativity and hard work.”