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Happy Thanksgiving: Saying Thanks in 2016

November 24, 2016

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As 2016 is coming to an end and we celebrate Thanksgiving, we’d like to say thank you. We have a lot to be thankful for, even in a tumultuous and uncertain year, and sometimes it is precisely in tough times that we realize it. At Catbird Baby, we want to say a sincere thank you to our customers. Our independent retail store owner customers who believe in our brand, value our innovative products, and root for us to succeed as much as they do for their own stores: thank you. To the thousands and thousands of parents who have used our products over the last decade, who have written us to to say how much they love them, sent us their photos, let us know that their Catbird Baby mei tai or pikkolo has been imbued with precious memories from 2, 3, even 4 children, and that they treasure these memories, now and always: thank you. To the community of brave, smart, ambitious, hard-working, and creative women that I have met through founding and running Catbird Baby, so many of whom have become my personal friends and been moral support, a sounding board, an inspiration: thank you. As we sit down with our family and friends today for Thanksgiving dinner, we truly do include you in our thoughts and prayers for peace and happiness.

Starting a business from scratch is an enormous leap of faith, and so much of what happens in the course of getting the business off the ground, and keeping it going, is discouraging. Many people you meet don’t believe in you, or demand to know why you aren’t doing better, doing more. Even they deserve our thanks, though, because they push us to strive to actually be better. And striving to be better, everyday, is what keeps us going. To be better, kinder, more helpful, more accommodating, more understanding, and more human. Everyday. Thank you, to all of you, for making us better.

 

 

 

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Behind the Scenes Mei Tais Product News The manufacturing business

Why should you buy a mei tai for $89+ when you could buy one for $25?

July 8, 2015

May marked the 10th anniversary of our first mei tai ever sold. In babywearing industry years that makes us about eleventy billion years old. It also means we have been on quite a roller coaster ride while we’ve participated in the transition from a time when nobody had heard of a mei tai (to be honest, I was unsure if “mei tai” was going to stick or if another name would be adopted) to a time when mei tais are available on the shelves (actual or virtual) of some pretty big names in retail. And it’s true that you can often score quite a deal on one, and after all isn’t a mei tai pretty much the same everywhere?

I’m sure it will not be surprising to hear that my answer is an emphatic no. All mei tais really aren’t the same! While the beauty of mei tais is the elegant simplicity of the basic idea, there are many design and production decisions that affect the final product and how it performs. So why should you choose a mei tai from catbird baby?

  • Experience: As I said, we have been in the mei tai business for 10 years; we know what we are doing! And baby carriers, and specifically mei tais, are our specialty, and focus to this day.
  • Track Record: The proof is in the pudding. Our designs have been securely and comfortably carrying thousands of babies and toddlers since 2005, and hopefully will continue to do so for many more years!
  • Quality: From our fabric selection to our workmanship, we make sure that everything we do is the best it can be. We use lovely 100% cotton bottom-weight* fabrics of excellent quality. We use needle-punched** cotton (with a tiny bit of polyester to prevent shrinkage) batting in our mei tai shoulder straps instead of inexpensive polyurethane foam. We use it because it is comfier and more breathable and helps the straps lay flat and mold to your shoulders. Our workmanship is top-notch; we expect the best of the sewers who craft our carriers!
Beautifully sewn, from quality fabrics, folded up in a lovely little package perfect for tossing into the diaper bag.

Beautifully sewn, from quality fabrics, folded up in a lovely little package perfect for tossing into the diaper bag.

  • Layers: Unlike other brands, our mei tai has a minimum of 2 layers of bottomweight cotton in the body panel. If the mei tai has a print panel, this is another panel that is sewn on top of the 2 layers. Other brands often have one bottomweight layer and a light- or medium-weight top panel layer. This means our mei tai will be more supportive with a heavier baby, but since the fabric is 100% cotton and there is no foam in the body panel, it is still lightweight and breathable.
Two full twill panels PLUS the print panel = more supportive.

Two full twill panels PLUS the print panel = more supportive.

  • Size: The body panel on our mei tai is larger than any other widely available non-wrap fabric mei tai. Because mei tais are so customizable, it’s simple to just fold the bottom once before putting on for a newborn and then later not fold the bottom to have high-back coverage for a toddler. Our mei tai is also wider than others, but has a sewn-in elastic loop that you can use to cinch it up if you wish.
  • Stitching: Our mei tai straps are top-stitched for the full length of each strap seam. This is key in enabling the straps on our mei tai to lay flat and not get “ropey.” Again, this means more comfort for you and your baby.
Shoulder straps are topstitched the full length of the seam, which makes them lay more flat and not get twisted or "ropey."

Shoulder straps are topstitched the full length of the seam, which makes them lay more flat and not get twisted or “ropey.”

  • Style: We’ve been told we have an eye for fabrics and colors. And we strive to offer you choices to match your particular sense of style.
  • Leadership: Catbird Baby has been an involved and committed member of the babywearing industry for 10 years. I personally served as a founding board member of the BCIA (Baby Carrier Industry Alliance) and continue to serve today.
  • Mom-Designed: Our mei tai was borne out of love and practical experience as a mom. We know moms, and we know babywearing.

We are thrilled that mei tais are getting so much widespread attention! My love for mei tais is what made me so passionate about babywearing and inspired me to start Catbird Baby. We hope you will love these carriers as much as we do.

xoxo, Beth

 

*think sturdy; bottomweight fabrics are of sufficient weight, measured in ounces per sq. yards, to wear well

**needle-punched battings are created when the fibers are felted together with thousands of needles punching them together to create the fabric (as opposed to weaving or knitting, or other methods of creating fabric)

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Baby Carrier Industry Alliance Behind the Scenes

After the Ice Bucket

September 23, 2014
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by Beth Leistensnider, founder and president of Catbird Baby
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left, Vesta Garcia, right, Joanna McNeilly (BCIA board member and founder of Center for Babywearing Studies)

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.

 

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