Mama Duet Meets… Naadu Ashun
Mama Duet meets… Naadu I am very excited to introduce the first feature of 2021,
in my Mama Duet series where I find out how mothers in the industry balance it all.
Naadu is the founder and creative designer of A Bag Less Ordinary accessories also known as ABLO.
ABLO is inspired by her mixed heritage, Ghanain and English where uses fabric prints to create her designs.
This mama is a graduate from the London College of Fashion with 10 years of experience in the industry and evokes joy in all her designs.
I am looking forward to sharing this with you and go check out Naadu on all her platforms.
Enjoy and thank me later.
I know we first met at Sunita and Fatima’s My Style Triangle event a few years ago and I was instantly drawn to your vibe. I love how you incorporate your product with your style, and I especially like seeing this on social media. Do you plan your outfits around ABLO or outfit first, then accessories?
If it’s just a normal day then I will pick my clothes depending on my mood and what I’ve got going on that day and then accessories are chosen after. But if I know I am going to be taking photos for ABLO then I look at the accessory first and then pick outfits that will best compliment them. And sometimes I take photos for ABLO very spontaneously when it just happens that my clothes and accessories are working really well together, which often happens as ABLO is very much a part of my style.
The passion you have for nature is endearing–you like to share what you know but most importantly how you help the planet within your business. Where, and around what age, were you when you fell in love with plants and nature, what were your feelings?
I have a terrible memory and really struggle with knowing what age I was for certain memories. But I know that my love of nature was passed on by my mum who grew up in a rural village in Surrey and spent most of her time as a kid, outdoors in nature. Although I grew up in one of the most urban parts of London on a large estate, my mum always took me to lovely green spaces from a young age and encouraged me to embrace nature. One of my fondest memories from my childhood is being in a large garden of a big house, that my aunt briefly ran as a B&B in Devon. My cousin and I were in the garden pretending to be witches making some kind of potion, surrounded by peacocks and the most beautiful scenery. I felt free as a kid when we used to visit my Aunt in Devon every summer. We would swim in the sea whatever the weather, even when it was freezing, we would fling ourselves in without a thought! I have lost that fearlessness a bit, but I haven’t lost the memories and I know that being able to get away from London as a kid meant so much and helped shape who I am today.
Motherhood is one word with so many meanings! This first hit me when I said thank you to my mum days after my first daughter was born. I had an understanding of what it meant to be responsible for another human. What does motherhood mean to you?
It means to nurture and love as much as possible so my son will hopefully grow into a secure and kind person. It means to guide and support. It means a sometimes overwhelming, feeling of responsibility to keep my son safe and happy. It means a whole heap of stress and exhaustion too! I feel like nurturing another human or anything really, even pets and plants, can greatly help with a sense of purpose and take you out of your own head. I am an overthinker and have always been anxious but having Felix has helped with not focusing on my worries so much but putting my energy into supporting him grow. As much as motherhood is wonderful, it is also very challenging and even more so now I have lost my own mother who was a constant support and loved my son as much as I did.
We both lost our mums a few years ago. We know that grief never truly goes away, I found that talking about her–sharing memories, made me feel like she was still around and helped me to cope with grief more. How do you cope with this feeling on a day-to-day basis?
I lost my mum in October 2019 and did a lot of talking in the first few months after she died but then March came, and the pandemic took over and seeing friends and family was not so easy. Since then, I feel like I do not talk about her much and that is really hard. The one thing that makes the grief easier is thinking about how much quality time we spent together, especially in the last 4 years before she died. Reminding myself of how much we enjoyed each other’s company, the fun days out we would have with Felix, the way we would laugh at the silliest things and all the conversations we had. I never took my mum for granted and we always made time for each other. I think having a young son to look after has been a blessing but also sometimes makes it hard to really feel the grief day-to-day. I have to be strong; I have to be a focussed mum as that’s what he needs. So, I cannot always allow myself to feel the grief that is still very much there.
I enjoy seeing you share all the little adventures you and your son get up to, what is one of your favourite places to visit?
This is a hard one as there are so many! I’ve found it tough recently that we have not been having our days out that bring me so much joy 😊 I think I’ll have to go with Morden Hall Park, which is a free National Trust park in Morden, on the way to Croydon. We get the tube to Wimbledon and then it is just five minutes on a tram from there and Felix loves the tram. The tram literally stops outside the park! It’s not like a normal park, more like a piece of countryside that’s been placed in London! It has the river Wandle running through it and when it is warm kids paddle in the beautiful clear water. It’s pretty idyllic. I love how it has such a great mix of people that go to the park too, a great example of London at its best. It has a few cafes and a vast garden centre too. I love how it is an inclusive National Trust park as it’s free and mostly their parks have a hefty entrance fee, and it is also so accessible.
You’re such a champion of other mums, and use your platform to motivate others. As a woman running her own brand, how do you motivate yourself or keep yourself disciplined?
Staying self-employed is important to me because it works for me doing the majority of the childcare and needing to be available for my son. So, I find it easy to stay disciplined as I am trying hard to make my business successful. I also love running ABLO, creating things is my passion so it is not hard to stay motivated. But I will say that over the last year, with the pressures that have come with the pandemic, I do find it harder to stay focussed and work in the evenings. I used to be more disciplined, but I do find myself wanting to watch TV a bit more now, from exhaustion and needing some escapism! I think it can be helpful to set yourself goals and have your dreams too and always be working towards both. And I do believe if you have a business that you are passionate about then it is not hard to be disciplined. You may just find you have to be disciplined about not working too much and suffering from burn out.
The year 2020 was the year no one could have predicted. How was it for ABLO during that time? How did you manage running a business in the middle of a pandemic, and what were some of your self-care tips?
I remember when the first lockdown was announced and for that first week my Etsy shop went very quiet, I was worried. But then after that first week of no sales it picked up again and got busy and stayed like that for the whole of the lockdown. That was hard though as my son was off nursery and I was managing both work and being mum full time. It was a relief when his nursery (that was in a school) opened again. I took all of August off work as I wanted to enjoy the summer with Felix whilst he was on his summer holiday and not have to do the juggling. I am not great with self-care, to be honest, there just isn’t the time. But I do try to eat healthily, get a decent amount of sleep and get out for walks where possible. These are my essential things to keeping my mind healthy.
What is your go-to feel good colour?
What are some of your favourite small brands (for you and for your kids)?
Pip & Lil Original, By Megan Crosby, Ange B designs, Cult of Youth, Kemi Telford, Sarah Louise Hardwick Designs, Smart Squid, Poppet & Doodle, Other kids, This Story, Little Thimble Handmade, Johanna sands_thelabel and SO many more!!!
Who inspires your style?
My mum inspired my style growing up and my love of charity shops, vintage clothes and dressing a bit quirky.