Category Archive Carrier companies

Last minute shopping

Are you still looking for that last minute gift to give? Or something to suggest to someone else?

Consider taking a look at these carriers I explored this past year that are new to the babywearing world.

Looking for something unique in Canada? The LennyLamb Up is perfect, a blend between their baby and toddler sizes, this will meet your needs through out your entire babywearing life. See the featurette I did below while attending the Babywearing Conference in Poland. Want to learn more about LennyLamb, read this article about my visit to their homebase! Lenny Lamb can be purchased in Canada at Lollipop Sky, specializing in many baby carrier brands.

 

There’s also the Sleepbelt or JoeyBand. Though not a baby carrier, it is a great gift to give to new parents who are expecting, and can be easily added to the birthing bag for home, hospital or birthing centre. Perfect to keep the baby on you while seated, it is also very useful to help attach the baby to the mom after a c-section.

 

Here’s the Flexia by Babylonia Slen. It is a structured carrier with an interchangeable body so it can grow as your baby grows. Extremely innovative and comes in some classic colours. It can be ordered from any of their stores, like from HetKnooppunt.nu in the Netherlands or directly from Babylonia itself.

Or know someone who is expecting twins? Consider the innovative twin carrier by MiniMonkey.

And finally, the newly redone toddler flip by Kokadi.

 

Healthy communities through weaving – Bebe Sachi

Bebe Sachi is unique in the babywearing world, it is a social enterprise.

What is a social enterprise? A social enterprise has at its heart the value of building community. Not by following fashion trends, not by chasing the latest concept, but by creating something strong and lasting. Bebe Sachi also places a great importance on respecting the values and traditions of the local people, and it does this by treating them as equal partners. Their goal is to preserve the tradition and skills of the artisans who use the Asian handloom. I’ve been to several of their presentations and in them, you will always here this:

“It is important to understand the glorious history of Bengal’s textile in order to appreciate the need for preserving the Asian handloom legacy.”

And that’s just it. It is a glorious history. To understand the importance of preserving this tradition, we must visit why the decline in the Bengal textile trade occurred. It happened in two waves.

“From the final decade of the eighteenth century cloth exports from South Asia had already begun to decline for a variety of reasons, including the monopsony that the English East India Company had built in Bengal and South India, which blocked manybuyers from obtaining cloth.”1

After the British take over of Bengal in 1757, they slowly squeezed out most of the foreign buyers of Bengal textiles from the region and significantly reduced Bengal’s trading links with the outside world. Divide and conquer was the goal of the British Empire. By the end of the 18th century, the British were exporting almost all of the textiles produced in the region through the East India Company and other British companies. There were few independent exporters left.

At first, when the British Empire expanded into South Asia, it provided real boost to the local handweaving industry. Many fine fabrics, including the best cottons in the world were woven here. But with the onset of the industrial revolution, it enabled the British to produce these fabrics more cheaply back home. Instead of exporting fabrics to Britain, The East India Company flooded the Bengal market with these cheaper machine made cotton goods from Britain. As the British had almost a full monopoly in the region, the impact was immediate. The Bengal textile industry declined rapidly and by around the 1850s it had almost disappeared.

From Bebe Sachi themselves: “There were hardly anything left of its past glory. These factors caused the once famous textiles industry of Bengal to demise, causing the death of the legendary fine muslin textiles. Muslin was Bengal’s finest heritage that made the region famous and attracted visitors and riches to its shores for millennia.”

The impact on South Asia was devastating.  All of a sudden, the work that was available disappeared and the impact on communities was horrible. Though brilliant for the British back home in Europe, what jobs had been created through heavy colonization was now destroyed. There was no thought to the people left behind.

The situation nowadays in countries like Bangladesh for those in the fabric and garment industry nowadays isn’t much better.

The Rana Plaza building where many of the clothes we use to dress out children collapsed April 2013 1,135 Bangladeshi garment workers and injuring 2,500 more.2 It was such a shock as Canadians to see brands like Joe Fresh in the rubble. We here in the West were, through our need for fast, cheap, affordable fashions, somewhat responsible for what happened. Not because that is what we ordered or required. But because in order to make clothes cheaply, factories act like prisons. Days are long. Bathroom breaks rare. And as we learned, workers are essentially locked into the building, with few ways to exit in case of emergency.3 This is no way to live. Our companies are still making clothes here. And conditions aren’t safe.4

Moreover, to work in these factories people must move to larger centres away from their families. It is quite common that a mom goes to work in one location, a dad goes to work in another, while their children live with family members elsewhere. In order to ensure the financial health of their family, parents no longer have the luxury of raising their own children and of creating a strong relationship with them. Can you imagine if you barely saw your parents except for briefly throughout the year? Though you may love your aunts, uncles, or grandparents, who did you want to be raised by as a child? Who do you want to raise your own children? Relatives?

Given the emphasis on attachment in babycarrying, where and how our carriers are produced should be important to us. Are we truly supporting attachment to family and to community if we do not consider how a carrier is created?

Because when a company like Bebe Sachi establishes itself in a country like Bangladesh, it creates community and encourages attachment. First, by preserving the traditions of the Asian handloom, they are valuing the work, skill and artisanry of the local people. When a weaving set up is built in a small community where people live, families can make a strong enough living, creating financial strength which enables families to stay together. Parents of the Bebe Sachi community get to be the parent. And they do what most parents do around the world, they raise their children, the take charge of their education and they raise them in the values that are important to them. As a result of the Bebe Sachi project, weaving set-ups were revived, and the looms are alive again. Their small set-up has become an exemplary model. It has created opportunities to do work such as yarn spinning, dyeing, warping, and so on. Weavers have a flexible working environment. They are able to weave and farm as needed. This means they can provide food for their families. Weavers remain with their families, they ensure that their children attend school, and the members are active in the local community.

Supporting a local enterprise is not just about buying a product, it’s about respecting the people who live abroad, creating community and supporting family cohesion. It is also about respecting the values of the people who live there. All woven items are designed and made by the local artisans and weavers. They are learning to experiment and learn how to create items that are popular and will have a lasting impact. Runs are short and there are no product lines to speak of. Each weave has its own purpose – items are woven for everything from shawls, place mats, handbags through to fabric suitable for carrying babies and much more. There is an inherent respect when you let people determine their own destinies. Moreover, Bangladesh is primarily a Muslim country. The Muslim religion does not allow images of animate beings, whether they are humans, animals or birds, and whether that is engraved, on paper or fabric. This means that every piece woven does not go against their own personal beliefs, as occurs in the larger industrial centres. Can you imagine if you were forced to make something offensive to you just because someone else will like it, or because it will sell? Bebe Sachi weavers do not have to.

Another thing is that a social enterprise can do is to respect the natural cycles. An example is based on weather. Here in Canada the one thing we can predict, is that winter will come and the snow will fly. It impacts every part of our life. In Bangladesh, the weather centres on monsoons and floods. When the rains come, they don’t just come for a day or two. They come for a whole season and flooding is quite common. A business that cannot support itself during these periods of mandatory stillness is devastating to the community. Bebe Sachi always has at its heart the goal to create strength to survive past these periods. This year has been particularly difficult in Bangladesh, the storms have been particularly hard and the flooding greater than usual. Over 1,200 people died in the region this year alone.5 When the floods come, the looms lie silent. There is no way to farm, to spin or to weave. As such, the continuous support from babywearing communities around the world plays a huge factor in ensuring their sustainability.

The long term goal of the Bebe Sachi team is to be able to expand their social enterprise to other South East Asian regions. Both women, Rita Rahayu and Azizah Attard are Malaysians and would like to be able to bring the strength they are working to build in Bangladesh to a greater number of people. Consider shopping with Bebe Sachi and help them build more communities worldwide. We are too accustomed in Canada to hearing the words “fair trade” and “social enterprise” and associating it with very high price tags that are truly far too expensive for most of us. Because there the weavers are selling directly to you, the prices of Bebe Sachi products are fairly reasonable and each run is quite unique. You can buy from them here , like them on facebook, or join their facebook community called Bebe Sachi Love to share your love of their products.

In celebration of a project like Bebe Sachi, Babywearing in Canada is sending their own Bebe Sachi wrap out travelling throughout Canada as part of International Babywearing Week.  Stay-tuned to our facebook page for more information!

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Footnotes
1. Cotton Textile Exports from the Indian Subcontinent, 1680-1780, Prasannan Parthasarathi
2. Article from CBC.ca titled Joe Fresh continuing garment business in Bangladesh in year after tragedy published April 10, 2014.
3. To learn more about the garment trade, watch this documentary by the Fifth Estate called Made in Bangladesh.
4. Article from the Globe and Mail, Four years after the crisis, are Bangladeshi workers any safer? published July 28, 2017
5. Article from the Guardian entitled South Asia floods kill 1,200 and shut 1.8 million children out of school published August 30, 2017.

LennyLamb – a story

I had the honour of touring the main location of LennyLamb in Poland a few weeks ago. I am not sure if you are aware, LennyLamb is one of the largest manufacturers of wraps, ring slings and structured carriers there. This company started off in Asia’s apartment June 2008, as soon as the idea was conceived it became a family business. Asia’s husband Michal, her sister, Kasia, and Kasia’s husband Piotr joined in to make LennyLamb the company it is today. They first started by outsourcing their weaving and sewing to various places locally. But as the business expanded, it didn’t make any sense to continue this way. Soon they decided to open their own facility by moving to a small converted farm building belonging to the family. Initially, the entire production was located in one building, where the shipping and coordinating was done in a small side room which now serves as their photography studio. The company has now expanded to several buildings. Though Lenny Lamb is larger, employing a good number of people in Poland, it still keeps its small family aesthetic. Each carrier is made to order, on time, just for you.

Touring the facilities was a blast. I am a very visual person and I couldn’t get over the feast offered throughout the factory. Spools of yarn, fabric scraps, colours everywhere.

 

I learned so much! It was absolutely fascinating. First we started in the building where the yarn is brought in, sorted, and wound on the warp beams. The amount of work needed to get a warp done is amazing. First, the spools of yarn are loaded on the rack, they are hand strung in a grouping of 500 threads, each done up with a neat little knot. Then the technicians then use the bars to keep the tension where it needs to be. Once the warp is wound and sorted out, it is then threaded onto the warp beams, the knots at the start of the warp are used to secure it into the beam and then a second knot at the end keeps the group of 500 threads separate. Ten of these sets of 500 threads are loaded onto the warp beam and it is a fairly intense process.

I found watching the workers incredibly hypnotic as they worked with such fine yarns that it looked like a spider web, or like gauze hangings from a movie scene.

From here we went to the BEST and most interesting part, where wraps are made. They had four jacquard looms in operation at the time I visited, and including one Dobby loom. Each loom had a different weave on the go. The first set was a cross weave, which you can see by looking at the crossing reeds, and each piece that is woven has two repeats on it.  It is much easier to keep some looms with it’s own weave style because it saves time, otherwise to change the configuration is quite time consuming. This is one of the reason there are so many!

    

Each spool has several runs of fabric on it, and is separated by a bit of plain weave, allowing for easier cutting and sorting later on.  There is a really neat bit of waste that is created in the weaving process, the ends almost look like feathers, like each run creates something that will reminds me of how this will fly to families all over the world. The remainder of the warp is then saved and reused whenever possible. The spools of completed fabric are stored throughout, and they are a feast for the eyes.

From there, the fabric either moves to the sewing room to be cut and trimmed to create wraps, or it heads to the cutting room to be treated and turned into your favourite structured carrier. Lenny Lamb makes a series of structured carriers, from a full buckle, onbuhimos and mei tais (meh dais). As previously mentioned, this is a family operation and runs are small. This allows Lenny Lamb to do one thing, make each carrier to order. Literally. When you press buy on their website, that fabric gets removed from the shelf and that carrier gets made just for you. When a store orders an amount puts in an order for their shop, that order is made specifically for them. It’s tailored to your needs, to your life, to your hometown.

 

The small, just in time nature of their business also allows Lenny Lamb to do many new innovative designs and colourways, keeping their product line fresh and new. When I arrived, they had just put out a new colour in their horse weave and the popularity of it meant the orders were being processed right before my eyes. It has just been released the day before.

As a knitter and a educator, I have a true love of fabric. The scraps everywhere were grabbing my attention left, right and centre. The useable scraps from the cutting room are then cut, sorted and trimmed to make up the bundles of scrap fabric that are also available for sale. Nothing is wasted, I even spotted a scrap that was being used to clean the machines. Waste not want not! (Look away if using wraps scraps for cleaning makes you cry…)

And that is one of the main benefits of having everything located nearby. The environmental footprint is much smaller than other operations. The yarn, the webbing and the buckles are the only things shipped in to make each carrier. The winding of the warp, the cutting, the weaving, and the sewing are all within walking distance of each other. For some companies that aren’t able to weave their own fabrics, due to smaller fabric runs or other factors, the fabrics are designed in house and woven offsite. These rolls then have to be shipped to various locations for find construction.

Another benefit of having a fully functional factory is the ability to test out different concepts before deciding if they should be integrated into their carriers or should just remain an experiment. They can test out the quality of the weave, the weight and the workability as a wrap without having to wait. Many companies have to send the design off to have a test piece woven elsewhere for them to evaluate. Not here! I was even lucky enough to see a really innovative experiment – I was shown a test project. It was a two sided fabric, where one side you see the boy looking out, the other side you can see the boy’s back and his shadow and from the rest of the figures too! Though far too thick for wrapping, who knows what might develop from here?

 

Once your order is prepared to your specifications, it moves to quality control, where it is checked prior to labelling and packing. Shipping and receiving is directly on the other side.

It goes from this family-run business right to your local shop or straight to your home.

Débora was invited to visit Lenny Lamb September. This article is as a result of her visit. Two live interviews were done by Lenny Lamb, one in Polish and the other in English. Pop in and take a listen! Débora would like to thank the Lenny Lamb team for making her visit memorable.

Link to the LennyLamb story: https://en.lennylamb.com/web_page/10735

Débora’s interview with LennyLamb Polska about carrying in Canada: https://www.facebook.com/147801012269544/videos/484787701904205/

Interview on LennyLamb to describe why I visited Poland: https://www.facebook.com/lennylamb/videos/10154725820902484/