Brea Albulov’s Ann Arbor-based Hope Carried Etsy shop was doing even better than she’d hoped. Her signature product, the ring sling, was an instant success because busy moms loved the slings as incredibly comfortable, great looking, and easy to wear while discreetly breastfeeding. They were such a hit that she diversified her baby wearing business to include wraps, too. But too much demand can be a challenge for a young business and she needed help.
Bringing hope to refugees
By chance, while listening to a radio program, she realized that hiring local mothers was just one way her business could give back to her community. “It struck me one day when I was listening to an NPR story about a woman who was seeking asylum in the U.S. The woman from Afghanistan was staying at Freedom House Detroit.” Albulov contacted Freedom House Detroit and hired her first employee, a recent refugee living in Taylor.
Albulov next made contact with Jewish Family Services (JFS), an Ann Arbor organization that is a leader in serving refugees in the area. “I met with them, and they told me they have an endless supply of women who face significant barriers to work.” After forming a partnership with JFS, Albulov has since hired five additional refugee women who sew slings and wraps for Hope Carried. “As we hired more and more women, it gave me more passion to provide work for them.”
JFS provides a sewing machine, and the women, who are all mothers of young children, can work as much or as little as they like. They come to Albulov’s Ann Arbor home once a week with finished slings and wraps and tote home stacks of fabric in periwinkle, peony, jade, lavender, and other vibrant hues. The flexibility to work from their Ann Arbor area homes, vary their workload, and work for a family-friendly business are the exact supports these talented seamstresses need to experience success. And it’s a win-win for both employer and employee. “I’m amazed. I never expected that I’d be able to make this kind of impact,” says Albulov.
Sena is from Togo, Africa and enjoys her work with Hope Carried.
For Albulov, helping create a pathway to success for women in need is also personal because she understands the hardships women can face. “I was a high school dropout and runaway. I now have a business where I’m helping others who have struggled, fleeing from war-torn countries. They’re giving their kids a new opportunity and hope for the future.”
Where to shop
Hope Carried slings and wraps are available at hopecarried.com. Locals can try on a sling or wrap at meetings of the local group, Ann Arbor Babywearers, as items have been donated by Hope Carried. Albulov advises first-time buyers that the ring sling allows easy nursing. hopecarried.com