Amy has been nominated in the 2014 Ausmumpreneur Awards, in both the Product Innovation and the Rising Star Ausmumpreneur categories for her Mama Chic Do Not Disturb (DND) sleep cover.
The cover creates a dark, peaceful sleeping environment in the pram, and Amy says it saved her sanity in the early months with a newborn.
“Mackenzie, who’s three now, was a colicky baby and didn’t sleep well at all,” she says. “She was easily over-stimulated, and once she’d started crying she wouldn’t stop.
“I’d get particularly upset when we were out and about. I would finally get her to drop off, but then the blanket I’d put over the pram would slip down or fly off in the wind.
“I asked my mum what they used to do, and she said they used pegs or hairclips to keep a blanket in place. I’m sorry, but I just bought a designer pram – there’s no way I’m sticking pegs on it!”
After another outing where an old lady lifted up the blanket for a peek and woke the baby up, Amy said she ended up in tears and decided to buy a sleep cover.
“I found there wasn’t one to buy in Australia, only shade covers and rain covers, and the sleep covers I found overseas were not stylish,” she says.
Amy’s mum, Susan Stevens, had been teaching her to sew, and she suggested they just make one.
“We made a simple black cover out of 100 per cent breathable cotton, with a mesh peephole so you can see the baby – but as it’s black it doesn’t let in too much light – and we used buttons to open it as they’re quieter than velcro. Not waking that baby was the priority!” she says.
Amy also added stick-on letters spelling out ‘Do Not Disturb’, as a message to well-meaning old ladies everywhere.
“I got so many comments on the cover; other mums said they needed one and wanted to know where I got it from,” she says.
A plan started to form and Amy says she knew she wanted to go into business, so she began the mission of making the cover universal to every pram.
“I called every new mum I knew and asked if I could borrow their pram,” says Amy. “At one point we had about 20 prams in our very small living room. We cut out so many different shapes, and finally found one that fit them all – and we were in business.”
Amy says her mum has taught her everything she knows about sewing, and while making the shell is outsourced now (including new features – a wire so the cover doesn’t droop on baby, and a zip for easy access), she still sews on the straps and buttons.
“I like to ensure quality control and it also means the covers are finished with a bit of love,” she says.
“It’s surreal that the covers are out there, after so many years in the making. There has been a lot of literal blood, sweat and tears but I’m so proud of the final product.”
The DND pram sleep cover, $44.95, by Mama Chic is available at mamachic.com.au, or at Dressing for Two in Kambah.