AmMia creates the most beautiful handmade crochet items from baby blankets to newborn photography props to bookmarks, keyrings and more. But what stands out about this company is how it all began. From a difficult start to parenthood, to creating a wonderful opportunity, this is a story of passion and grit.
Why crochet? How did AmMia get started?
AmMia was created for and named after my beautiful daughter Amelie Mia (the Am stands for And Mummy).
Amelie was born on the 25th March 2017 by emergency section and diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after. As soon as I held her in recovery I knew she had Down Syndrome and so our grieving process began. Amelie’s diagnosis had a massive detrimental impact on both me and my husband’s mental health. I have since learned that this period of shock and trauma is quite normal but at the time we struggled and found it extremely difficult.
Crochet As Therapy
In June 2018 I knew something had to change. I had to try to distract my thoughts from spiraling completely out of control. My mother-in-law had given me wool that I decided to crochet baby blankets for my sister-in-law who was expecting twins and who have since arrived safely.
Gradually, through making these crochet blankets the tears lessened and I found crocheting to be a welcome distraction and a form of therapy. I enjoyed making the blankets and was pleased with how well they had turned out. It was then I realised it was time to take back control. Instead of worrying about my daughter’s future, I decided I would do everything I could to help shape it. AmMia was born.
With the help of my wonderful, patient, caring husband, we formed the logo that I had in my head and turned it into a reality. I started to crochet keyrings and bookmarks and decided from the outset that we would donate 20% of all profits to North Down and Ards Down Syndrome Support Group. I wanted to help and support other children in addition to my daughter.
What support would you have liked to have had in the beginning when the diagnosis was made?
My husband and I left the hospital together with our 5-day old baby girl with nothing more than a printout, knowing little if anything about Down Syndrome and not knowing how or what we should be doing. One of our biggest fears, like many parents, was what our daughter’s future might hold.
I would have liked the health trust to have realised that as new parents, we needed some emotional support and/or counseling. No-one even asked about how we were feeling. We both were devastated, yet no professional support was offered. We weren’t even signposted to local groups.
How are your lives different since Amelie was born?
Our lives have changed completely into a new norm with lots of medical appointments including physio, speech and language, paediatricians, occupational therapy, orthopedics, and ENT to name a few. Amelie has had heart surgery and we are now waiting on further surgery for vents. We have entered into a whole new world but have made lots of new friends and connections that we wouldn’t have done without Amelie.
I have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and grieved for my daughter, worrying about her future until I finally took back control and created AmMia for her future, which also acts like therapy for me. People have been so supportive and I will always be so grateful.
What advice would you give other parents in your situation?
That it will be ok. You are not alone. I don’t believe the tears or sadness will ever disappear completely but I’ve now learned how to manage it and can now enjoy every second with my baby girl. She’s so funny, determined and clever. I breathe her in and she makes everything ok.
I wasted so much time grieving and that is one of my biggest regrets. Grieving is a natural reaction for a lot of parents, and that’s ok. Reach out, talk to people, be kind to yourself. Find something you enjoy doing, don’t let the sadness consume you. Don’t put limitations in place. We can help shape our children’s future.
What are your hopes for the future?
I want to grow AmMia into a brand that will continue to provide for Amelie long after I’m gone. I want to learn new things, to teach Amelie and grow our product range.
I’d love a hub where new parents and families can come and just be, do crafts, crochet, chat, read, play and a space to sell our products. I’d love to employ people with Down’s in our shop and give other people with Down’s a space to sell their products before they branch out on their own if they wish to do so. How cool would that be!
We hope our business goes beyond the act of creating things, but we hope to raise awareness and help others. We hope that one day, we can rid the world of the label…my daughter and others are not Down Syndrome, it’s a condition they have but that does not define them.
Hopefully one day our dreams will become true, but I could not have got so far in such a short time without everyone’s support. Since creating AmMia I have been contacted by many people who have been touched by Down Syndrome and their words of encouragement have made me even more determined to reach my goals.