The Mom Behind the Brand: Leah Holmes of Aura Leaf
By: Melissa Harper | Date: July 5 2017
The Mom Behind the Brand: Aura Leaf
1. Introduce yourself and your business.
Hello! My name is Leah Holmes and I am the creator of Aura Leaf. Aura Leaf is a Ring Sling company based out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My vision for Aura Leaf is to make every parent feel like a god or goddess while bonding with their baby in an affordable and practical way. I wanted to maintain my own style after becoming a mom but wanted all the benefits of babywearing. I found that with the beautiful combinations of certain ring colors and fabric, along with the flowing tail of a ring sling and its unstructured nature, I was able to achieve that!
I thought that maybe other moms felt the same way. I wanted to be of service to my fellow mamas because I am realizing how hard this motherhood thing really is. Becoming a mother is a renewal of your whole identity and any small piece that makes you feel more yourself is SO crucial. So I decided to put some designs I loved out there and to my surprise, many moms responded positively!
2. First, congratulations on launching your brand new business, Aura Leaf, on July 1st! You’re fresh out of the gate into entrepreneurship – how do you feel in this moment?
Thank you! I feel equal parts excited and terrified. Excited because I truly put such care into every single detail of my product that I cannot wait to see these adorable babies in my ring slings. I am always excited to hear how much a mom loves her ring sling and see how beautiful and radiant she looks in it. I am so excited for more pictures to start flowing in.
I am also terrified because I am truly doing this for my little family. I want to be able to be with my 10 month old daughter through these early years of her life. I started Aura Leaf to be able to do that and help contribute to my household. The stakes are high but she gives me so much strength that I’m going for it!
3. I know that you’re a registered nurse by profession. What prompted you to start Aura Leaf?
Yes! My whole nursing career I have worked with newborns to toddlers as well as their families. I specialized in primary care, post partum, and breastfeeding teaching. I am truly passionate about this time in a family’s life.
I have always wanted to start my own company. I had this idea for Aura Leaf when my daughter was just a few days old but it was just an idea I was toying with in my mind. Never speaking it out loud. But one day while with friends, I was playing with my daughter who was just 3-4 months old at the time. Aura (my daughter) had just started to giggle and laugh out loud. I was making funny sounds and dancing around just to make her laugh and she was LOSING IT! She was baby laughing so hard. A close friend, with the best of intentions, advised me not to get her too used to that because she said Aura would be so devastated and miss me when I had to inevitably put her in a daycare or dayhome upon my return to work. My heart sank to my feet. I got this gut feeling where I just needed to figure out a way to be with my baby.
I love that with Aura Leaf, I get to be of service to other moms and help them be close to their babies with the goal of also being close to mine.
4. Your shop is just a couple weeks new now. Can you share what your hopes and dreams are for growing your business? What’s your ultimate goal?
My hopes and dreams right now are quite humble and conservative. I am the production line staff, advertising and marketing, shipping, accounting, and owner all at once haha! A mom is on a tight budget so I have to wear all hats at once. I truly just want to be of service to moms at this time in their lives. Our moms made it look easy. I think that with social media and today’s generation, we just have more of a platform to share that it actually is not as easy as our moms made it look. We also have the opportunity to be more of service to each other by sharing and thus realizing that we are not alone!
My ultimate goal is just for Aura Leaf to be successful enough for me to be able to stay home with Aura and raise her while having a little extra to contribute. Anything above that would be more than a blessing.
5. I know you put a lot of thought into the materials you use to make the slings. Can you share what they’re made out of and why?
Right now, all of my ring slings are made out of 100% linen. I absolutely love linen for bedding, clothing, and just any textile use in general. Linen is made out of the woven fibers of the flax plant. It has been used for hundreds of years for being one of the strongest fibers. I love that it is 100% a natural material. I care about my company’s eco impact so that is very important to me. Linen is light, cool, and breathable in these hot summer months because it allows air to flow through it easily. But amazingly, also will keep you warm in the winter months. It is also antimicrobial and does not cling to skin; perfect for sensitive newborn skin. Linen actually REPELS dirt which is so crucial with Aura’s current age where she is so messy!
I could go on and on about linen but I will just finish with how I love its “lived-in” comfy-chic look. A few wrinkles paired with gorgeous rings, I feel like it is equal parts the most practical and gorgeous baby accessory!
6. Aura Leaf is also inspired by crystals. Can you tell us a little bit about the powers of crystals and how they show up throughout your brand?
Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a love for healing crystals and stones. I have shared this love with so many around me but never knew I would integrate it into a company!
Crystals are a natural occurring material formed between the layers of our earth. I am absolutely drawn to all natural beauty and I love adorning myself, my home, my husband, my car, everything with crystals haha! Instead of “powers” per se, I see them as meditation and accountability tools. For example, I always carry a Citrine with me. Citrine is said to be the stone of abundance and happiness. It just reminds me to approach every situation with warmth and attract positive experiences back unto myself.
Crystals and stones come in so many gorgeous colors. I have named each color in my launch collection after a crystal. I secretly hope my customers will look up the meaning of each of their slings and find some comfort in that.
7. You offer a “Light” Collection, “Love” Collection, “Aiko” Collection, and “Meraki” offering. Can you explain the differences between each line?
Light Collection- This is Aura Leaf’s single layer ring sling collection. It has been lab tested and approved to carry babies and toddler up to 35 lbs. It is my personal go-to line. I love how light and breathable it is. I love the feel of the fabric because I have a very sweaty baby. I feel uncomfortable with heavy textiles on my skin.
Love Collection- This is Aura Leaf’s double layer 1.5 weighted ring sling collection. There’s only one color right now; Black Tourmaline. But I have something very special in the works for this line coming soon. And who doesn’t love a good black sling! These are for very long carries or heavy babies or toddlers whose parents may want more support. I did not want to make a 2x weight ring sling as I felt it was too thick and hard to adjust. This is the perfect medium!
Aiko Collection- This is our adorable doll sling collection!! Everything is mini and they match the adult collection. I cannot wait to have Aura babywear her stuffy alongside me. I think it is such a positive way to reinforce the future babywearing generation and creates a new “normal”.
Meraki Offering- While I am able, I love the idea of offering a customizable Light or Love Collection ring sling. Whether it be for a special gift or a special occasion, I thought why not go that extra step where I can. Sometimes the smallest thoughtful gesture can make the biggest difference.
8. Speaking of “Meraki,” I love the meaning: “to do something with total love and pure soul. To put a little piece of yourself into your creative work.” This is so perfect in terms of motherhood and entrepreneurship. In what ways does Aura Leaf reflect pieces of you and your journey as a mother?
Aura Leaf feels like the accumulation of so many experiences and defining moments in my life. Even before becoming a mother I always wanted to be a business owner. The inspiration for “the” idea never came. I had many ideas but never one that just called my soul and passion into action like Aura Leaf has.
As a registered nurse specializing in newborns and postpartum care, you would think I would have had an “easier” time with my journey as a mother. Not at all. Even with all that knowledge and experience, I felt a disconnection to my old identity. The things that used to interest me, didn’t anymore. I wanted to feel happier but I no longer knew what would give me happiness. In hindsight, I maybe had some baby blues or postpartum depression without realizing. The grounding element I always had was babywearing in a ring sling with Aura. Having her close and content was my happy place. And from there, I crawled my way back outwards to figure out what else made me happy within my newfound identity.
9. How do your slings stand out or differ from others on the market?
Aura Leaf slings are handmade in my home country, Canada! Don’t get me wrong though, I am a HUGE supporter and fan of mom run US businesses. The hard part about that is the current exchange rate for CAD to USD and the shipping costs from our amazing neighboring country. I am not a stranger to having a tight budget (diapers are expensive!). So the advantage to my company is dual sided: my American mama friends can look at our prices and know it is much less in USD and my fellow Canadian mamas can get a quality product at a more affordable rate!
Aura Leaf ring slings also differ from others on the market because I have gone an extra step to have them pre-softened / “broken-in”. I was disheartened by hearing stories of moms giving up on ring slings because they could not get the hang of adjusting a new sling. Linen can be crispy for awhile at first, making it stiff and a little more difficult to adjust. I wanted to lessen the learning curve and make this beautiful way of babywearing more accessible. By having slings that are already broken in, adjusting the sling through the rings is easier and the fabric is much more moldable to baby’s shape. Parents have been loving it and I am so happy.
I also designed Aura Leaf slings to be reversible by creating a double sided vegan leather tag because: stains. So many times I found myself embarrassed because Aura left a huge stain on my sling and I had totally forgotten and was out in public. I wanted to turn it inside out but the brands I had, the tag was only on one side. And of course, you HAVE to show the beautiful tag (ha!). I just created for my own want and it turns out other mamas felt the same! I also love that I could be inclusive of vegan parents. I feel that the trend now is just that everyone wants to feel better, healthier. A plant based diet is one way to do that for some people, so why not be as inclusive as possible.
10. What has been the hardest thing about launching your own business and being a mom?
The hardest thing has been wearing all the hats at once. My priorities right now are my marriage, being a mother, and Aura Leaf. I have almost no time for leisure activities because all 3 of those priorities, I feel, are a fulltime commitment in themselves. As I do this interview, Aura is crawling beside me and I am having to stop every 5 minutes to stop her from doing something crazy. She actually ate a random sticker she found and then proceeded to throw it up while I was writing this. So I would say productivity and balancing are the hardest parts right now. But I have just learned to trust the process, every step of it. I try not to be so hard on myself for not making my own deadlines for tasks if a priority for my family or husband comes up. It is a beautiful thing to just be kind to yourself. I find that we are our own worst critics and just training that little voice in your head to be softer can make the world of a difference. I am still working on it daily.
11. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other moms who want to launch their own business?
If other moms have an idea that gives them life and brings their passion alive, my advice would be to just START. In any little way you can, just begin. Inaction will kill our dreams. A very good friend of mine who is very successful in her passion of photography told me to start a vision board for Aura Leaf on Pinterest. Something as simple as that was a huge step for me. With every picture I added, Aura Leaf became what you see today. Then everyday, I took more tiny steps towards my dream. Some days I would take two steps back unfortunately. But to my surprise, all those accumulated small steps turned into huge accomplishments over the months and all of a sudden I was launching Aura Leaf! So my advice would truly be to just begin, with any little step, just start!
12. As moms and entrepreneurs, we’re always trying to find balance. How do you practice or keep balance in your own life?
I want to be completely honest with you, some days there are no balance at all. My daughter might be teething or just having one of her days and I get no work done. On others, I have the most productive Aura Leaf day and oops, I forgot to have supper ready or clean the house.
Balance is a huge goal I am working on daily. I just set myself small achievable goals by the day. Everyday, I try to do at least 1-2 productive things for Aura Leaf. I always get orders out in a timely manner. I also aim to do at least 1-2 things to make my husband feel loved such as cook a delicious supper or make his life easier in some way. This way, I can feel like I have achieved something within all my priorities. Being a present mother for Aura is my #1 priority however, so sometimes that trumps all.
13. What does your average day look like?
My day always starts with singing or dancing with Aura. This gets our bodies and energy in motion and starts our days happy. After preparing breakfast for Aura, while she messily feeds herself, I answer emails for Aura Leaf and any questions from my social media platforms. I also print out orders from the previous night and try to prepare them to ship out right away.
That is pretty much the only routine we have set. I believe in routine but I also believe in living life in flow. The rest of the day I will work on business, clean our home, breastfeed Aura multiple times, work with fabric, and at some point prepare our home for my husband to come home to a nice meal and his loving family. I don’t know where the hours go but I would love to incorporate some time to spend outside with my daughter daily.
Once everyone is in bed, I tidy the house and get to sewing until I feel sleepy. Then I usually read a book to fall asleep (sometimes I am so tired I just open it and I fall asleep with it on my face, ha!)
14. I LOVE what you recently wrote on your instagram account (@goddessakamommy): “…I think it’s the pure love you feel for your child that attracts ideas and experiences that exist on the same highly vibrational plane.” I completely agree that becoming a mother facilitates creativity in all forms. Can you share the ways your daughter was the inspiration behind your new brand?
Thank you! I thought that I was a whole person complete with my own interests, dreams, and values before I had my daughter. All of that was turned upside down after becoming a mother. Many of my core values stayed the same but Aura changed my perspective on life. I used to just want to be on a beach as much as possible during my off time as a Registered Nurse. With Aura in the picture, I now want to show her what women and mothers are capable of. I want to be present with her throughout her childhood and yet still have something I can show her to be proud of that is apart from mothering her. Aura Leaf is named after Aura and was truly inspired by her existence. I am sure many moms can relate that our babies make us want to level up in any way shape or form to be the best version of ourselves.
I also collect slings so I love the idea of parents picking out which “Aura” they would like to wear for the day. So I created the hashtag on instagram #wearmyaura, do check it out !
15. What’s your most popular sling in stock right now?
Honestly our customers love every color with Rose Gold rings. I am obsessed with rose gold. My wedding band is rose gold! I am so happy other moms are loving it too.
16. What does success look like to you?
Success to me is having a life where I will have time to fill my own cup as well as be of service to others and my family. It is a life that I have built where everyone I love is happy and thriving. Success to me is more a feeling than a picture. It is peace of mind knowing I have done all I could for others but also for myself. I want to make myself proud!
17. What’s next for you and Aura Leaf?
This current launch collection is selling out quickly! I am already working on a “Fall” Collection. However, I don’t want to necessarily call it a “Fall” Collection because I want to leave it open to create designs out of the box from what people would expect. I have something extremely unique and exciting coming. It will be a first in this industry but that is pretty much all I can say about it for now!
18. How can we support you and Aura Leaf? (Links to your social channels, website, etc.)
You can follow us on instagram: www.instagram.com/auraleafco/
Like our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/auraleafco/
And visit our website: www.auraleaf.co
19. Any special offers/announcements you want to share with our Tribe readers?
Yes! I am currently doing a giveaway for a ring sling of YOUR CHOICE on our Instagram page (@auraleafco). Depending on when this interview is published it just might still be going! However, if you do miss the giveaway, there will be more and you can subscribe at www.auraleaf.co for emails that will announce giveaways, promos, and exciting news from Aura Leaf! Thank you so much for those of you who made it all the way down to the end of this interview. I am grateful for this opportunity and to Tribe Magazine for giving it to me!
If you’d like to be featured in our “Mom Behind the Brand” series, please email Kristin@momsandstories.com for more information.