• mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

This week, we caught up photographer and designer Ali Dover. Ali started her journey into designing her own woven wraps after a series of realisations about parenting, lifestyle choices, and slow living. We talk to her about these revelations, how it affects her life and brand, and how she spends her downtime.  

 

Before we begin, could you talk us through how you got to where you are today?

It’s not until I look back over the last ten years or so and realise just how much I’ve grown in that time - I’m extremely grateful to the people I’ve met, the books I’ve read and the experiences I’ve had that keep me propelling me and encouraging me to live a life which follows natural rhythms and purpose. 

When my first son was five, I suffered some massive health and injury issues, followed by my relationship break-up (we subsequently reunited). It caused me to totally re-evaluate my lifestyle. Not just my lifestyle but (probably most importantly!) my belief system - I began to question everything I had previously thought to be ‘true’, in particular things like the foods that we eat and the thoughts we think and how these two aspects impact our life experience. After my second son’s home birth in 2007, I had even more epiphanies surrounding parenting; how we give our power away to so-called experts when, actually, listening to our gut instinct is a much better indicator of doing what is right for us. 

So, when things became intolerable for my eldest son at school in 2008, I realised that we didn’t have to remain in the one-size-fits-all coercive system of education. I de-registered him and we embarked on the adventure of autonomous learning (which puts the child in charge of how and what they learn). It was a revelation, and we have never looked back.

Four months later, I experienced the most amazing natural homebirth with my daughter - I felt so much more empowered; she was carried in a woven wrap from birth, never went in a pram/pushchair and always co-slept with me. She is by far the most confident of all my children :)

Listening to my instinct in this way led me down a path of realising how much I would love to introduce woven wraps to as many parents as were ready to listen, so I embarked on a journey of consultancy courses learning, not just the nuances and techniques of wrapping, but the incredible benefits it has for our growing babies and for us as parents too.

As I continued to grow, learn and follow my passion, I began to dream of one day having my own brand of woven wraps; I had no idea how I was going to achieve it but that dream wouldn’t go away. I began by setting up an online shop selling woven wraps by other manufacturers. Disappointed with their stock photography, I began to photograph the wraps myself and, over time, became unintentionally recognised for my babywearing photography. But the deep desire to put my own designs into the world remained with me. Imbued with a strong sense of purpose, I set about finding a weaver here in the UK who would understand my values and feel part of what I was trying to create. The process unfolded rather slowly, which in hindsight I’m glad about. Finally, 18 months ago, I launched Ali Dover Woven Wraps with two striped designs. I also now have a new design called ‘Hygge’ - named after the Scandinavian word for ‘well-being’ - something I strive for on a daily basis, and which I hope my woven wraps bring to parents and their babies and young children...

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

Your photography is as much of a part of your business as are the beautiful wraps that you design - how do you find time to fulfil all of the different areas of your business?

Being multi passionate does bring its challenges, that’s for sure! Styling and shooting my own brand enables me to pull together those two parts; it gives me a chance to try to fulfil my visions for both.

In general, learning to say ‘no’ to outside projects that my gut instinct feels aren’t such a great fit for me has been a revelation - it leaves room for more fulfilling opportunities to come along and gives me the time and space to concentrate on those and to work on my own business.

 

Your brand and photography both resonate with the ideas of slow living and hygge, tell us more about why you feel this is important…  

In the last ten years or so, the pace of life in the western world has become increasingly frenetic - saying you’re ‘so busy’ seems to have become a badge of honour, and not to be busy, a sign of failure. But that’s a terrifying state of affairs - extreme busyness impacts on people’s wellbeing and thus the wellbeing of society in general. When we take less care of ourselves, we are taking less care of the planet. 

If we can slow down, both mentally and physically, and engage in every present moment, rather than always worrying about the future, or feeling guilty about the past, life becomes so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

 

You’ve also spoken about the idea of simplifying life, and easing the stresses of modern living. At mahabis, we’re on the same lines. How much do you feel you adopt this in your own life? 

I’ve become very conscious that I want my life (and particularly my children’s lives) to be about experiences, not things - experiences help shape us and make us who we are, whilst things bring clutter to our home. Clutter most definitely makes me stressed; that not knowing where to put anything feeling. When a relative or friend asks what we might like for a birthday present, for example, I now suggest an experience that will bring us joy and help us grow in some way. In a daily sense, choosing not to send my children to school is a brilliant way to allow my children to grow and learn at their own pace, without any feeling that they need to conform to external schedules.

Learning about the importance of focussing on just our breathing is something so simple yet so effective - it seems to slow time right down and helps me put things into perspective.

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

How important is your downtime? 

Downtime is very important to me - even ten minutes sitting quietly brings me to the here and now.

 

What’s the ideal way you choose to unwind after a busy day? 

Lying on my bed reading is very nourishing to my soul, whether alone or with my children snuggled next to me.

 

When and where do you like to wear your mahabis? 

My mahabis have been a lifesaver since I got them! We have been undergoing months of building work on our kitchen and they have been keeping my feet warm and snug all day long despite lack of heating and a proper floor! They also still look as good as they did the first time I wore them!

They go with me too whenever I travel away from home to give me a feeling of comfort.

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover 

 

Name the three records that you’d reach for when you want to relax:  

Not so much three records as three albums - I’m rather partial to Tattoo You by the Rolling Stones, Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies and Moon Safari by Air. 

 

Is there one city in the world that you’d never tire of visiting? 

Oh gosh, yes, this has to be New York! I lived there between 1993 and 1994 and haven’t been back since 2004. Despite all the time I spent there, I still feel I didn’t explore enough.

 

If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?

An extra hour a day sounds blissful - I’d probably sneak in another book, or go for an extra walk with my children and our dog, Jack. An hour spent quietly daydreaming or meditating would also be welcome :)

 

You can read more about Ali's perspective on downtime and motherhood here. And to give this interview a share, simply click on this ready-to-go tweet

mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

This week, we caught up photographer and designer Ali Dover. Ali started her journey into designing her own woven wraps after a series of realisations about parenting, lifestyle choices, and slow living. We talk to her about these revelations, how it affects her life and brand, and how she spends her downtime.  

 

Before we begin, could you talk us through how you got to where you are today?

It’s not until I look back over the last ten years or so and realise just how much I’ve grown in that time - I’m extremely grateful to the people I’ve met, the books I’ve read and the experiences I’ve had that keep me propelling me and encouraging me to live a life which follows natural rhythms and purpose. 

When my first son was five, I suffered some massive health and injury issues, followed by my relationship break-up (we subsequently reunited). It caused me to totally re-evaluate my lifestyle. Not just my lifestyle but (probably most importantly!) my belief system - I began to question everything I had previously thought to be ‘true’, in particular things like the foods that we eat and the thoughts we think and how these two aspects impact our life experience. After my second son’s home birth in 2007, I had even more epiphanies surrounding parenting; how we give our power away to so-called experts when, actually, listening to our gut instinct is a much better indicator of doing what is right for us. 

So, when things became intolerable for my eldest son at school in 2008, I realised that we didn’t have to remain in the one-size-fits-all coercive system of education. I de-registered him and we embarked on the adventure of autonomous learning (which puts the child in charge of how and what they learn). It was a revelation, and we have never looked back.

Four months later, I experienced the most amazing natural homebirth with my daughter - I felt so much more empowered; she was carried in a woven wrap from birth, never went in a pram/pushchair and always co-slept with me. She is by far the most confident of all my children :)

Listening to my instinct in this way led me down a path of realising how much I would love to introduce woven wraps to as many parents as were ready to listen, so I embarked on a journey of consultancy courses learning, not just the nuances and techniques of wrapping, but the incredible benefits it has for our growing babies and for us as parents too.

As I continued to grow, learn and follow my passion, I began to dream of one day having my own brand of woven wraps; I had no idea how I was going to achieve it but that dream wouldn’t go away. I began by setting up an online shop selling woven wraps by other manufacturers. Disappointed with their stock photography, I began to photograph the wraps myself and, over time, became unintentionally recognised for my babywearing photography. But the deep desire to put my own designs into the world remained with me. Imbued with a strong sense of purpose, I set about finding a weaver here in the UK who would understand my values and feel part of what I was trying to create. The process unfolded rather slowly, which in hindsight I’m glad about. Finally, 18 months ago, I launched Ali Dover Woven Wraps with two striped designs. I also now have a new design called ‘Hygge’ - named after the Scandinavian word for ‘well-being’ - something I strive for on a daily basis, and which I hope my woven wraps bring to parents and their babies and young children...

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

Your photography is as much of a part of your business as are the beautiful wraps that you design - how do you find time to fulfil all of the different areas of your business?

Being multi passionate does bring its challenges, that’s for sure! Styling and shooting my own brand enables me to pull together those two parts; it gives me a chance to try to fulfil my visions for both.

In general, learning to say ‘no’ to outside projects that my gut instinct feels aren’t such a great fit for me has been a revelation - it leaves room for more fulfilling opportunities to come along and gives me the time and space to concentrate on those and to work on my own business.

 

Your brand and photography both resonate with the ideas of slow living and hygge, tell us more about why you feel this is important…  

In the last ten years or so, the pace of life in the western world has become increasingly frenetic - saying you’re ‘so busy’ seems to have become a badge of honour, and not to be busy, a sign of failure. But that’s a terrifying state of affairs - extreme busyness impacts on people’s wellbeing and thus the wellbeing of society in general. When we take less care of ourselves, we are taking less care of the planet. 

If we can slow down, both mentally and physically, and engage in every present moment, rather than always worrying about the future, or feeling guilty about the past, life becomes so much more enjoyable and fulfilling.

 

You’ve also spoken about the idea of simplifying life, and easing the stresses of modern living. At mahabis, we’re on the same lines. How much do you feel you adopt this in your own life? 

I’ve become very conscious that I want my life (and particularly my children’s lives) to be about experiences, not things - experiences help shape us and make us who we are, whilst things bring clutter to our home. Clutter most definitely makes me stressed; that not knowing where to put anything feeling. When a relative or friend asks what we might like for a birthday present, for example, I now suggest an experience that will bring us joy and help us grow in some way. In a daily sense, choosing not to send my children to school is a brilliant way to allow my children to grow and learn at their own pace, without any feeling that they need to conform to external schedules.

Learning about the importance of focussing on just our breathing is something so simple yet so effective - it seems to slow time right down and helps me put things into perspective.

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover

 

How important is your downtime? 

Downtime is very important to me - even ten minutes sitting quietly brings me to the here and now.

 

What’s the ideal way you choose to unwind after a busy day? 

Lying on my bed reading is very nourishing to my soul, whether alone or with my children snuggled next to me.

 

When and where do you like to wear your mahabis? 

My mahabis have been a lifesaver since I got them! We have been undergoing months of building work on our kitchen and they have been keeping my feet warm and snug all day long despite lack of heating and a proper floor! They also still look as good as they did the first time I wore them!

They go with me too whenever I travel away from home to give me a feeling of comfort.

 

mahabis interviews // ali dover 

 

Name the three records that you’d reach for when you want to relax:  

Not so much three records as three albums - I’m rather partial to Tattoo You by the Rolling Stones, Trinity Session by Cowboy Junkies and Moon Safari by Air. 

 

Is there one city in the world that you’d never tire of visiting? 

Oh gosh, yes, this has to be New York! I lived there between 1993 and 1994 and haven’t been back since 2004. Despite all the time I spent there, I still feel I didn’t explore enough.

 

If you had an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?

An extra hour a day sounds blissful - I’d probably sneak in another book, or go for an extra walk with my children and our dog, Jack. An hour spent quietly daydreaming or meditating would also be welcome :)

 

You can read more about Ali's perspective on downtime and motherhood here. And to give this interview a share, simply click on this ready-to-go tweet

  • Alice Apsey
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