5 August, 2023
Made just for the mummas’
AS the proverb goes “necessity is the mother of invention” and this is true for Malanda’s Jes Panov.
After breastfeeding all four of her children through a time that spanned about 10 years, she knew a range of functional western clothing was needed to be created for women to wear before, during and post-partum.
MummaBear Western wear was created, but it wasn’t that easy.
It took having her children, many hurdles and challenges along the way to get to where she is today.
Jes grew up in Western Sydney but she felt the bush was calling her so, following school, she headed north.
“I always knew I had some other place to be,” she said.
Jes has spent time in a number of outback communities such as Mt Isa and Cloncurry and has worked in various roles from tourist officer to caravan park manager.
“That’s where I fell in love with the land, the people and Queensland.”
Jes moved to the Tablelands about 17 years ago. While managing Mt Surprise Caravan Park, with 30 staff and a cafe, she had her four children and continued to work where possible.
As all good things go, they must come to an end and by the end of 2019, she moved into town and began to wonder what was next.
She started researching clothing manufacturing and where and how to create her own label - this would be the beginning of MummaBear Western.
Firstly, Jes had the idea of jeans that moved with the body - from before, during and post-partum.
“(I wanted to) make clothing we can wear anytime,” she said.
She invested in a one-stop-shop in Sydney, received her first sample and was then ghosted by the company.
Stuck at a point of giving it another go or doing something else, Jes decided it was time to push on and research further.
“By this stage I had wasted a lot of money and time,” she said.
Upon further research and coming up with a design, Jes decided upon shirts - a breastfeeding friendly shirt that would work for post-feeding use, also. It’s a practical solution for many women working on the land who also like to wear their shirts off property.
“The breastfeeding version of my shirts, there is nothing like it at the moment,” she said.
A design was created, samples sent out and liaising with an overseas company got the ball rolling. Some holdups and several hurdles later, Jes was able to present the product people had supported her in creating.
“Now it’s about trying to penetrate the market,” she said.
While all of the clothes are made overseas at the moment, Jes’s ultimate goal is to eventually have them manufactured in Australia.
The range includes a breastfeeding friendly “MummaBear Mumma Yakka”, poncho, jumper, T-shirt and more.
“I’m a single mum of four kids, I’m relying on this to work. I need to get this out there, I have so many ideas,” she said.
“There’s deeper intention than just clothing. It’s getting women together. You always depend on yourself (and or) or the women in your life to get you to where you are.
“It’s teeny tiny at the moment but there is big intent and dreams there.”
When it comes to the name, Jes said it needed to resonate with why it was developed.
As it happened, she was folding clothes at the kitchen table and was looking at a bear on a T-shirt and thought “that’s where I’m at; I’m a mumma bear”.
“It’s what I like to wear (western clothing). MummaBear comes from that nurturing role and being a mum. The name? It came from folding washing.”
Jes’s clothing range can be seen in Wood N Play, Mareeba, as well as Winter & Mann in Yungaburra. She is also a regular at many markets and field days as she pushes and promotes her product.
The dream has taken some time to turn into a reality but now that she’s living it and pushing her product in the market, Jes is keen to see what comes of it.