As a labor, delivery and neonatal registered nurse, Leslie Brake knows newborns.
The 2004 Staples High School graduate — she was Leslie Webster then — understands that besides sustenance, the thing infants need most is the warmth and security of their caregivers.
“Tiny beings instantly go from being carried 24 hours a day for 9 months to a fraction of that outside the womb,” she says.
For millennia, mothers have carried their babies in various forms — many continuously, until they are at least 3 months old. This allows babies to smell and feel their mothers’ warmth, and learn to adapt to the new world.
When her daughter Charlotte was born on July 4, 2014, Brake immediately fell in love. She stared at her new child the entire first night, despite 24 hours without sleep and the exhaustion of labor.
“She instantly became my whole purpose for being,” Brake recalls.
When Charlotte was 5 weeks old, the family flew to Nantucket to visit Brake’s parents. Brake had always loved the island. But she soon realized that the cobblestone streets and uneven sidewalks made navigating a stroller impossible.
At the airport, she’d struggled with the stroller too. And finding a good way to breastfeed frustrated her to tears.
Dissatisfied with the monotony of baby carriers on the market, she searched for a better option. She could not find one. Finally, she made her own carrier, from fabric that matched her style.
The first ACK Wrap was born. (ACK is the airport code for Nantucket — now you know what those oval bumper stickers are all about.)
Charlotte loved the wrap. She cried less and slept better — and Brake could even breastfeed while wearing it.
Friends loved it too. Brake made wraps for them — and then, for friends of friends.
Her husband — a firefighter with a flexible schedule — took over the logistics of the blossoming business. It operates out of their Austin, Texas home.
The ACK Wrap allows a parent to wear her baby hands-free — while accenting each person’s unique style.
Brake believes a parent should feel “great and beautiful (or handsome)” while carrying their baby. (Hey — it’s 2016! Carrying a baby is not just for mothers anymore.)
Her wraps complement outfits, while being lightweight and breathable. (The secret: modal and cotton blends, with classic patterns. There are 100% organic options too.)
It took a lot of work to create the right fabric combination for strength and softness from an American mill — Brake’s husband, a Marine veteran, insisted the product be American-made — but she believes they’ve succeeded.
“We’re in Texas. We know the importance of a carrier that doesn’t make you or your baby hot,” she adds.
Leslie Brake has created a business the right way: by identifying a need, and fulfilling it with creativity and passion.
But she’s gone one step further. For every wrap sold through her website (click here), she and her husband donate another to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) family.
It doesn’t get warmer or cozier than that.