Croeso i’r Baban!
That is, in case you don’t speak Welsh - Welcome to Baban!
Baban is Welsh for baby. (Babanod is the plural – and that’s just as cute in any language, isn’t it?)
In creating Baban I had in mind another Welsh word: hiraeth. It’s not an easy word to translate, but it evokes a kind of longing for something wonderfully familiar – those feelings that flood in, unbidden. That word, hiraeth, encapsulates my feelings when I think of the atmosphere of the departed local, high-street baby shop.
These emporia were stocked full of everything a mother could need. Nappy pins, shawls, matinée coats, balls of wool and knitting patterns could all be produced from the most brilliantly organised – and infinite – set of cupboards and drawers at a moment’s notice. The latest rompers and dresses were immaculately presented in window displays, on mannequins, and the bell that heralded entry into the shop would inevitably be accompanied by the most comforting smell of cottons, woollens and cedarwood keeping everything fresh and clean.
By the time I had my own children around the turn of the millennium, such shops were already firmly on the decline. Instead, out-of-town shopping was the thing – huge shops, messy piles of clothes and unmatched shoes, and no one to ask for advice. Shopping for my babies could feel incredibly isolating and stressful. You can well see how I might have felt a sure tug of hiraeth at the memory of those traditional boutiques. I made a vow, then, to find some way back to what should be familiar to all mothers, without moving backwards: by embracing the future.
Because these magical emporia provided more than just a place to shop. They were a safe place: a place to ask for advice, and, perhaps more importantly, to have a gossip – to listen to the owner and her years of experience. And this is what, more than ever, mothers, parents and everyone who cares for their children can find nowadays: community.
So, with the memory of the 1960s high street in mind, I hope we can build a community together: #Baban
Yours, Catherine Graham.
Founder of Baban.co.uk