Entrepreneur Jane Chen and artist Drue Kataoka met in 2012, and while their areas of expertise are quite different, they both wanted their work to have a meaningful impact. Working together through Embrace (Chen’s start-up), they have designed blankets that will save babies lives.
They have designed swaddlers and blankets for parents in the developed world to purchase, a line of products called Little Lotus. These products help regulate babies’ body temperatures in the first few weeks of life. Meanwhile, the purchase of these products help fund products that use more advanced technology for use in the developing world.
For babies born prematurely, incubators are typically used to help keep them warm. However, in the developing world, incubators are often not available or do not have a consistent power source. The Embrace blankets help solve that problem, which is a large one: about three million babies die every year within the first 28 days of life globally, with most of those deaths in the developing world.
Kataoka’s contribution is the thoughtful art work.
Over a period of several months, Kataoka and Chen worked with teams on the ground working in communities in countries like Uganda, Afghanistan, and India to retrieve hand tracings. Chen and Kataoka made some hand tracings themselves and both said the experience was incredibly moving.
‘The numbers are so overwhelming, but you realize that art can push through that a bit,’ Kataoka added. ‘Jane and I wanted to do artwork and an art installation that would connect people to issues of infant mortality. Art becomes a wonderful bridge, and carries with it, an emotional and an intellectual side. The message sticks through art.’
Anyone can contribute their own hand print or their children’s using the Touch Our Future app (Touch Our Future is Kataoka’s start-up.)