Yewande Ogunkoya on how her children are the muses for her baby clothing brand

I was born in Ibadan, a city in western Nigeria, but have lived in the UK since the age of three. Growing up, I was surrounded by the colourful bold Ankara patterns that are a staple in West African countries. I love these prints. They have influenced my personal style, and wearing colour makes me feel confident and powerful.

In 2016, I wanted to buy a baby outfit in these prints as a gift. But after searching long and hard, nothing was right – either the cotton was too stiff or the colours were wrong.

As a planning lead at media agency Essence, I solve challenges all the time, but this was the first time I decided to give myself the brief.

I created Mummy’s Muse: a brand that makes baby clothing in bold West African-inspired prints that have been reworked to a more contemporary aesthetic. Small people are the perfect ambassadors for these clothes. They are fearless, uninhibited and they live life without holding back.

Four years, two babies (muses), one full-time job and a global pandemic later, I am finally ready to launch. Fulfilling, educational and humbling are three words that spring to mind when I reflect on the journey I’ve been on so far.

Fulfilling because I love using both the left and right side of my brain. Educational because I have never worked in fashion or produced a real-life product. I’ve had to learn everything from the ground up. It’s even made me a better media planner and leader, encouraging deeper interrogation and a desire to understand all functions of marketing. Humbling because anyone that knows me knows I move fast – and for many valid reasons, this has moved so much slower than I ever imagined. However, it’s taught me patience and to find joy in the journey.

I hope my story will inspire people with ideas to start something of their own. If you start and don’t stop, literally keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will make progress. When it’s tough, I hold on to what I want to see in five years time: a spirited toddler, walking down the street, head to toe in Mummy’s Muse.

Yewande Ogunkoya is media planning lead at Essence