Ankalia was founded by Alex Lyons and Kellie Rakich in 2014 in Australia. The company is a Contributing Sponsor for The Wrap Show 2017. In the following interview, Alex and Kellie share more about Ankalia.
How did Ankalia come to be?
Ankalia came about because two passionate women from either ends of the continent had the idea to bring an Australian-made product to the market. At the time of launch, Ankalia was the only wrap company trading that was made on home soil. Neither Alex nor Kellie, the two co-directors, had met each other or even interacted with one another prior to deciding to join forces rather than go it alone. Through the power of social media, they’ve forged a wonderful company and friendship and have built the community that surrounds Ankalia.
What drew you to the world of wraps initially?
We both used baby carrying as a tool in our parenting toolkits. It enabled us to get through the days with our small children. We recognised that its functionality and practicality mean that you can be the best version of yourself when parenting your children. But there is also something incredibly cathartic about wrapping, pulling slack out of a wrap as you tighten strand by strand. It’s soothing to both the caregiver and child being wrapped. The art of babywearing in itself is a really beautiful thing.
What inspires you in your work?
Seeing the final product is inspiring to us. It shows us that all our hard work and the many hours we spend poring over our wraps and carriers is helping another caregiver hold his/her child close. Seeing those smiling selfies of people in our community wearing our wraps and baby carriers is like the affirmation that we need to keep doing what we are doing.
In terms of where we draw inspiration from. Thats easy. Everywhere! Alex heads up the in-house design portion of Ankalia with Kel flicking ideas over when she sees ideas she loves too. We also love collaborating with designers and artists from within the community to bring our fans pieces of wearable art. Giving a voice to local or indigenous artists is really important to us.
Why do you think wraps are so important for parents and children?
Baby carriers, first and foremost, are a tool – a parenting tool that provides support in more ways than just the practical sense. Yes they allow the caregiver to be hands free to tend to other children, continue on with a task at hand or even navigate a bustling city street without having to fight with a pram in the crowds, but they also can be a sensory and tactile tool. The very fact that wrapping specifically has so many benefits to those with special needs makes them an invaluable tool.
What is your favourite part about using woven wraps personally?
Alex: For me there are two things. I’m a sucker for exceptional wrapping qualities. If a wrap doesn’t feel comfortable on my shoulders and back then it sits in my cupboard and i’ll use something more comfortable. Finding the right balance between fibres percentages is fun, and when you nail a new blend, it’s really exciting. The other thing that is a must for me is colour! Colour plays such an important role in the way that we feel and the way that people perceive us, and who doesn’t want to look and feel good when they are out and about with their baby?
Kellie: For me, it has always been the love of textiles and having that natural fabric against your skin. It’s very sensory for many, and when you look at fibres and textures and then add the pattern/design of the wrap, it really is a personal experience. I love having the choice of colour, design and then the varying wrapping qualities that each wrap brings. The varying sizes you can choose from for different occasions really adds to the versatility of using woven wraps as a main choice of carrying my children.
How do you encourage new parents who are interested but hesitant to try wrapping?
We try and tell them that wrapping is just like any new skill that you have to develop when you become a parent. Practice makes perfect. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual, but thankfully your new woven wrap does. 😉 We also find that if we are at a trade show or expo, then a live demo is really valuable. For a couple about to have a baby or someone with a newborn, being able to see how quick and easy it can be is all the push they need.
What’s most exciting or satisfying about working in this industry?
It would have to be the feedback we get from the customers. Having them tell us that they managed to get their baby to sleep in a few minutes after hours of screaming or that we helped them get dinner on the table during witching hour may not seem like something major, but to know that we played a role in helping make their day a little easier is pretty magical.
Where do you see Ankalia in five years? Ten years?
We would love for babywearing to become even more mainstream. Most new parents these days have a baby carrier on their baby wish list – but how good would it be if it was a woven wrap? We’re working really hard at the moment to make sure we have a visible presence in mainstream avenues. Hopefully that translates into happier and more settled babies and more relaxed parents.
What experience do you hope for Ankalia customers? In other words, what do you hope to accomplish or inspire through your work?
We like to think that our community offers a friendly and welcoming environment for all people alike, and we are proudly progressive. We strive to be accessible in both our wraps and our official chatter pages by providing an exceptional product across a wide range of price points, an excellent customer service experience and, in our chatter group, a space where everyone can feel safe to share his/her babywearing journey, however that may look.
Is there anything new about Ankalia or its products that you’d like to share?
There is always something new and exciting happening in Ankalia HQ. We love blending new fibres suitable for the Australian climate; often these blends aren’t seen elsewhere around the world. We are also busy putting the final touches on a new bag that we’re set to unveil at The Wrap Show! We are so incredibly excited about it – I’m not sure how we are going to keep it under wraps!