After four kids, ten moves and nearly two decades, we are still blissfully in love (most of the time) and I found myself back in the state I was born and raised in. It has definitely been a journey. In fact, on our 18th anniversary we pulled the last of our stuff up over the pass and into Montana, leaving our surprise love, Idaho, behind. But Montana is a great place. The last best place according to some. And we fully intend to explore as much of it as we can! Join us on our continued adventure through life, love and other stuff that comes with it.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

In the market for a carrier?? Some thoughts to consider . . .

Due to several interactions with other mamas who make carriers and conversations I’ve had with other carrier enthusiasts, I have been thinking quite a bit lately about what makes a quality carrier. I’ve come to a conclusion that may surprise some.

Obviously the design, fabrics and the construction are what make a carrier safe. But I am thinking beyond that. What about the person behind the business? Work-at-home-moms have attained some sort of status that I personally am not incredibly comfortable with. It is a nice thought—a mom at home raising her kids and at the same time supplementing the family income with a product she created and is marketing. It’s not all like that.

Since designing the Silly Goose, I have run into several persons, most of them local to me, who aren’t afraid to tell me (maybe in not so many words) that they are making a knock-off product, are making a product they designed but with cheap materials, or are not afraid to just plain tell me that they are cutting corners to make a few extra dollars. Most times these practices start at the very beginning. I was shocked to learn that one local mom who runs a business I considered respectable and very visible did not even have a business license and was doing all her business under the table. Another mom actually called the carrier she made and is marketing by the name of a brand of carrier rather than the type of carrier. I honestly don’t know if that is just plain ignorance, or if it’s honest to goodness dishonesty. Either way, it’s not something I’m comfortable with.

Recently someone commented to me in passing that, “Yea, you are a legitimate business . . .” And then it all came together for me. I really try to do things right. I have a business license. I pay state and federal taxes. I work hard to keep accurate records and provide good customer service while not getting bogged down in the business so my family and the business suffer. I’ve had good help from great friends along the way who love me and my carrier—most of them loved my carrier before they loved me, but that’s another story.

At any rate, to me, a person who establishes a legitimate business and tries to run an honest, quality shop is more likely to turn out a quality product. Because they care they are trying to do the right thing. Plain and simple. I'll admit my business adventure has not been perfect, but if something has gone wrong, I honestly think that nobody can say that I haven’t gone out of my way to make it right. And I've made the changes necessary to prevent the problem from happening again.

A person who operates under the table starts their business cutting corners and to me that says a lot about what they care about and, more importantly, what they don’t care about. Sometimes you will see a person operating under the table offer a knock-off made with shoddy materials at a price that is a fraction of what the original product goes for. Or the product is made just as poorly and is offered at an inflated price. No, not every carrier business that operates under the table makes a shoddy product, but I do believe the percentage is going to be higher, and is that really something you want to support?

I do realize that some moms are making a small business of their hobby. They are knitting or beading or sewing and are making some grocery money or play money and not endangering anyone in the process. But somehow baby carriers are different. There is a baby involved. A baby being held to its mother by a fabric that is sewn together with attention or sewn together with motives that are not in the best interest of the baby or the mother.

I also realize that, like in the state of Washington, in some cases you only are required to report income over a certain amount. And in the state of Montana, if you operate a business outside of town, you are not required by the state to have a business license. But, there are still avenues available to make a business legitimate no matter where you are located. Plenty of avenues. One just has to do some research.

So, if you are in the market for a baby carrier, you should be looking for quality--a quality business is more likely to make a quality product that they stand behind. Please keep that in mind. Honestly, in the big picture it doesn’t matter if you get a Silly Goose. I’d obviously love it if you did, but that isn’t my point. My point is that there are lots of great carriers out there made by great people who care enough to run a legitimate business and provide a quality product.

Find them. Ask questions. Get answers. Evaluate those answers before you make your decision. No, I don't get irritated when people seem to have 100 or so questions or seem to feel bad asking me three more questions. Because really, everyone is better off in the end.

Happy Babywearing!

No comments: