Deborah Ajaja: Marking milestones with Colour Celebrations header image

"It's so important to embrace, accept and acknowledge colour as one of the differences that makes us all unique," says Deborah Ajaja (featured above), founder of Colour Celebrations, an online shop that sells gift items for black and mixed race babies.

Deborah, 34, runs her business alongside her full-time job as a management consultant and uses Starling to manage her finances.

The importance of representation

"When I gave birth in 2018, I was really excited to share updates with my friends and family as my son grew," she says. To make her updates more visual, she wanted to use physical colourful cards that have printed captions and pictures on them, known as milestone cards.

Colour Celebrations milestone cards
Colour Celebrations sells milestone cards for special occasions

"None of the cards were representative of the way my child looked. The photographs were meant to evoke happy memories that last a lifetime but they left me feeling really conflicted," she says. "I started looking for alternatives and quickly found that they didn't exist."

That's when she decided to make her own. And launch a business so that other black and mixed race families could benefit from representative milestone cards.

Community connections

Milestone cards from Colour Celebrations include illustrations of black and mixed race babies, as well as marking significant traditions within black communities. One example is the milestone card for naming days, a popular tradition for West African families.

"The cards mean that people can share a picture or use it for a virtual naming ceremony to make that lovely memory to look back on, even when family members can't be there in person."

Over the last two years, Colour Celebrations has grown into an online community. "In the UK, messages around black motherhood aren't always positive or reflective of what it's really like," she says.

To celebrate the reality of black motherhood, Deborah has run campaigns such as #ColourfulMotherhood. Through her website and social media, she posted interviews with Olympic athlete Tiffany Porter and travel entrepreneur Bethany Silcox, who shared their experience and advice.

Colour Celebrations height chart
Colour Celebrations also sells height charts

Deborah loves to give recommendations to fellow black mothers. Among her favourites are the books I Am Not Your Baby Mother by Candice Braithwaite, Natives by Akala, and the apps Peanut and Mush. "Apps are a great way to mix and socialise and find other people with similar interests to you, irrespective of race and ethnicity."

Starling for business owners

Starling is also counted among her favourite apps. "It's hands down the best thing I've done for my business finances," she says. "I signed up in minutes and within 24 hours, my account was open."

The features she finds most useful are real-time notifications for money moving in or out of her account and Spending Insights, the tool that automatically categorises and analyses monthly outgoings.

"The proactivity of Starling is breathtaking - the bank supports you end to end and it feels like a proper community," she says. "I really love banking with Starling."

Passion and purpose

What with raising two children, managing a full-time role and growing Colour Celebrations in her spare time, Deborah has her hands full. She recently launched a range of toddler t-shirts, which quickly sold out, and is now expanding the range and working on a Christmas shop.

"I'm a one woman band," she says. "But because it's something I'm so passionate about, it doesn't feel like an extra hassle."

Deborah gave birth to her second child in January 2020. "I loved being able to use my own milestone cards to document my daughter's development," she says. "It's a full circle moment."

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