Dana Weil found it challenging to find a stylish and kid-friendly play mat that was free of nasties – such as PVC – that they didn’t want their child exposed to. Caring deeply about the future for their own children, she wanted to do her bit for the world that we leave behind for them, not wanting to compromise the environment, their home space or their creativity. As a family, they love spaces that feel put together, yet liveable, believing that a home should be a welcome sanctuary to live calmly and happily every day. This is what inspired her to create Rugabub, a range of beautiful, stylish play mats made from the most sustainable and non-toxic materials available to the industry. Here Dana shares her story with The Natural Parent Magazine.
The passion: What inspired you to set up your business?
I have always wanted to be a mother. My gorgeous husband is eight years younger than me and didn’t feel ready for a long time. One day, while living in the Kimberley in a tent living a very natural lifestyle, living from the earth (we both worked at the Mitchell Falls – my husband is a helicopter pilot), we decided to just do it. We fell pregnant immediately and were so excited! Little did we know what a heartbreaking journey we had begun…
My first miscarriage was at 19 weeks. It was a crippling experience. I tried to understand what I had done wrong to cause the pregnancy loss. I wanted to talk about it ALL THE TIME, but others would change the subject, as if it was too confronting. As a result, I felt as though I’d been cast out. To survive, I had to cover my heart, build up a layer of clay, and defend myself. I kind of lost the belief that I was worthy of love.
The following months were agonising. Three more miscarriages taught me the importance of allowing myself the time to grieve. After the fourth miscarriage and a very messy procedure in hospital at the Torres Strait Islands, I had completely lost hope. But where there’s a will, there’s a way.
I finally fell pregnant with Jon Jon River (named after the river where our tent was based) and just knew that this was the one. We moved to Sydney to be closer to medical attention. Sadly, my husband lost his job just a week after he was born due to the pandemic. It was so scary. We needed to survive. Being a yoga teacher, loving a sustainable life, I was on the hunt for an earth-friendly and completely non-toxic play mat for my baby. I found a few lovely companies but wanted our home to feel clutter free, and wanted the play mat to look like a rug – to complement my space. I believe that minimalism does not mean boring. More people prefer to live a life of simplicity. People are farewelling their clutter and integrating a cleaner life. They’re investing in fine-looking pieces that complement their space, and pieces that are durable, rather than filling their home with meaningless objects.
This is how Rugabub was born and where all the passion came from. I started designing timeless and simple designs with the utmost sustainable and non-toxic material available to the industry: designs that still carry with them just a hint of sophistication in the most stylish manner. We still keep our designs neutral enough to go with anything.
Rugabub was designed to be a part of your home, not an addition to your home
Living in an uncluttered environment also means you are reducing the toxins and dust building up in and around your stuff and we are all for that.
The launch: How did you start out in the beginning?
Gosh, it was challenging… I had a two-month-old and everyone was pressuring me to go back to work as hubby was home now. After 4 miscarriages, and finally having a baby – I WANTED TO STAY AT HOME. I was very stubborn with my breastfeeding (it was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I was finally succeeding) and I knew that if I went back to work, I wouldn’t be able to continue that journey the way I wanted to. I hardly slept, but I was so passionate. Passionate to be able to work from home with a newborn, passionate to keep breastfeeding my baby and passionate to launch a sustainable, earth-friendly product that looked this amazing. I just did it. And quit, and started again, and quit again. Started all over again and finally launched in December 2020.
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