This summer, in the midst of the incredibly successful viral fundraising campaign #ALSIceBucketChallenge (sponsored by ALSA, the ALA Association), I was utterly shocked to learn that someone I know had just been diagnosed with ALS. The reason that I’m sharing it here on our business blog is because this person is Vesta Garcia. While this name may not ring a bell with everyone reading, if babywearing has meant something in your life, either personally or professionally, you owe Vesta a debt of gratitude.
Vesta has helped shape the modern grassroots movement that brought so many traditional (and traditionally-inspired modern) baby carriers to the widespread use and popularity they enjoy today. In 2002 Vesta started Peppermint.com, selling a wide variety of traditional baby carriers, from traditional mei tais imported from China to rebozos from Mexico and more. When she couldn’t find sources for some of the traditional carrier types she wanted to offer, she went on to found Ellaroo, designing and manufacturing her own mei tais (and the mei hip carrier), wraps, and ring slings.
In 2007, Vesta was prescient enough to realize that a safety standard that understood modern slings and wraps was sorely needed–and she approached ASTM (the independent body that works to create safety standards that are then often adopted by the CPSC, or Consumer Products Safety Commission) and asked for a standard to be written. Little did she know that she had just volunteered herself to write the standard; but Vesta jumped in headfirst (along with fellow manufacturers Kristen DeRocha, founder of Hotslings, Darien Wilson, founder of Zolowear, and Susan Gmeiner, founder and president of Maya Wrap) and took on the task with aplomb.
Vesta then became the first Executive Director of the BCIA (Baby Carrier Industry Alliance), and used her considerable skills of logic, diplomacy, and charm to advocate for an industry sorely in need of a strong and confident voice. Vesta worked tirelessly, far more hours than she was ever paid for. In 2012, Vesta left to pursue other goals, while maintaining her volunteer role as an ASTM chair and then technical committee member, while also consulting in the babywearing industry and going on to found, with DeRocha, Little Day Dresses.
I met Vesta first “virtually” through the online forum The Babywearer in the “Vendor’s Lounge.” And through these online business discussions about our unique corner of the entrepreneurial world, and eventually meeting in person and serving together on the executive committee of the BCIA (where I am a founding and current board member), I have come to count Vesta as not only a mentor, but a dear friend. That is why I want to share this fundraiser with you: if your life has been touched by babywearing in any way, I ask that you consider offering even the smallest token of gratitude to Vesta and her family.
At the bottom of this linked page on the BCIA website, there is a button to donate directly to Vesta’s family. Vesta has always given 110% of herself, to her work, her family, her friends, and I hope that we can thank her by helping to make it possible for her to live her best life while facing the challenges that ALS will bring.