Recently we had a chat with Awa Ampofo, the Creative Founder of ROSEÉ, a fashion brand focusing on contemporary African fashion. They sell their collections online and supply them to various clothing stores in Australia. With Mother’s Day coming up, we want to celebrate and share stories of new mothers who are doing wonderful things in our community! Awa shares more about her business, her journey to Australia and what motherhood looks like in her country of birth. Read the full interview below.
Why did you start ROSEÉ? I started the fashion brand because I aspired to see more Africans in the diaspora as well as locals embrace African print (also known as kitenge, Ankara). I grew up wearing African print, and after relocating to Australia, it was hard to source good ready-to-wear clothing made with African print locally. I saw this as an opportunity to build a brand that supports local jobs on the African continent and supports African businesses in Australia. Since launching the brand, we’ve worked with women-led businesses in Ghana and sourced our fabric in Ghana and Togo. We’ve also worked with local African businesses varying from photographers, models, tailors and influencers.
You came to Australia when you were young and have made it your home. What would motherhood look like, in your birth country?
I came to Australia as a teenager following ongoing civil unrest in my home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. Australia is my adopted home, but I still dream of peace and security for my people in DRC. My knowledge and experience of observing those who had children around me are incredible. The community is a village that lends a helping hand to new mothers. I can only dream of this while in Australia. It is something I long for, and miss being far away from home as a new mother. Even at the age of six, when my younger sister was born, I recall grandparents, aunties and uncles coming around our home to support my mum. There was always someone there to help, including our neighbours; whether it was showering the baby, taking care of the baby whilst mum slept, or taking a baby for a walk so mum could have some free time, I saw it all.
You are a new mother. What is the best thing about motherhood?
I don’t know how I can best describe what motherhood has been for me. It was tough at the beginning, which I didn’t anticipate. I helped raise four children under the age of 9 for more than eight years. I thought having had that experience would prepare me for motherhood, but it was the opposite. I struggled with seeking support outside of my home, which made it more challenging in the early days. My husband was hands-on with our baby from day one, and I am beyond grateful for him. His actions, along with my mother-in-law’s support later on, made a massive difference.
The love you see in your baby’s eyes, the cuddles, kisses and smiles make it all worthwhile. It makes you forget how hard it can be and motivates you to wake up the following day and start all over again. I believe motherhood changes you for the better. It makes you appreciate your mother in ways you’ve never thought of. In Australia, most mothers do not worry about their child being caught in the crossfire of gunshots, let alone fleeing conflict. My mother is phenomenal and my hero. On several occasions, my mother, and my siblings had to flee several conflicts in Congo. Knowing how she could guide and care for us with poise, strength and grace is beyond human.
What is the best piece of advice you would offer to new mothers?
For new mothers in the diaspora, I would encourage them to seek support where they can and don’t wait until it is too late. I have heard horrific stories about new mothers in the diaspora and their experience of raising newborn babies, which is heartbreaking. For those back home, enjoy and appreciate the community you have. Say yes to all the help you can get, and always remember to let those around you know how much you appreciate their support. Show your gratitude not only with words but deeds where possible.
Birthing Kit Foundation Australia provides clean birth kits to women in remote regions of the developing world, with many of our Field Partners located across Africa. What benefit do you see in the work BKFA does, particularly relevant to the African continent?
I commend Birthing Kit Foundation Australia for their work in developing countries. I highly encourage and am in support of anything that results in positive experiences during labour. I can’t comprehend what it would be like for expectant mothers, especially those with high-risk pregnancies, to give birth in facilities that are unsuitable for labour. I read distressing stories and watch documentaries highlighting some of the experiences of expectant mothers. It is refreshing to know BKFA has taken upon itself to support those needing assistance in developing countries. Such acts will go a long way to impact the lives of not only the individual mothers but the community as a whole.
View the full ROSEÉ collection online.