A big event casts its shadows: this weekend, the European Babywearing Conference (EBWC, #EBWConf15) is taking place in Bristol, UK. So, why are we participating, you may ask? There are several reasons for it:
- • Secondly, we are very much looking forward to presenting the manduca at the conference jointly with our British distributor Cheeky Rascals, who has been in the baby product segment since 1996. The two Rascals Lauren Harris and Carolyn Butcher will join Dunja from the Wickelkinder team on two days at the manduca booth. And Simon Russell (Managing Director of Cheeky Rascals) will not only hold the manduca sponsor speech but will also offer a workshop together with Emily Williamson (experienced carrying consultant and founder of the busiest sling library in the UK – South London Slings. She has also trained with 3 babywearing schools; Slingababy, School of Babywearing and Canadian Babywearing School.).
- • And thirdly, we think that the exchange between industry and the babywearing community is a basic requirement for the development of safe and high quality baby carriers.
manduca goes abroad
Cheeky Rascals and manduca have worked together since 2011, and the specialized retailer of baby products offers the manduca which is rapidly becoming well known in the UK and still is one of the most popular baby carrier brands. Working with Cheeky Rascals makes us realize how the babywearing market in the UK differs from the German one.
The German babywearing community has its own history: it is characterized by the babywearing movement and the occupational profile “babywearing consultant” which has evolved from this movement. Today, the babywearing landscape in Germany, Austria and Switzerland features a multitude of babywearing consultants – many of them organized in various babywearing schools.
In the UK, however, babywearing activities have also been initialized by the industry: It was the owner of a sling library, Victoria Ward, who started an organization that should “… join together everyone interested in babywearing advocacy, whether a parent, peer supporter, babywearing or health professional, large manufacturer or small retailer” (source: Babywearing Uk). Founded in 2010 as the “School of Babywearing”, and renamed into “Babywearing UK”, the organization was described as a social enterprise offering a wide range of activities to support the idea of babywearing. Right from the start, Babywearing UK has been working in close cooperation with manufacturers of baby carriers, other babywearing schools, and also with the BCIA (Baby Carrier Industry Alliance) in the US.
In the UK, the manufacturers and the babywearing experts are pulling together, to their mutual advantage – and therefore also for the benefit of parents who want to carry their child. As the organizer of the EBWC, Babywearing UK has not only asked the manufacturers to sponsor this event and set up a booth in the exhibition, but has also invited Arie Brentnall-Compton,founder of the Canadian Babywearing School, and board member of the BCIA. Her message: Let’s overcome difficulties together, in order to create a babywearing culture and make babywearing a matter of course for all parents.
BCIA: Industry and babywearing experts in close cooperation. A view across the pond.
The importance of the collaboration between manufacturers and the babywearing community becomes clear in the founding story of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA), which was founded following the bag sling scandal in 2010. It then became clear how important it is both to inform parents (e.g. to explain the difference between a bag sling and a ring sling), and to create uniform standards for safe baby carriers. The development of such standards has been and still is the aim of the BCIA that is working with consumer safety agencies like the CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission) and ASTM International (American Society for Testing and Materials). Today, the BCIA stands for the compliance with these standards as well as for the information of parents. https://vimeo.com/114401882
Perfect babywearing requires good products
Why am I telling you all that? First, to introduce to you our partner Cheeky Rascals and the organization Babywearing UK. And secondly, to state the importance of babywearing events: for the exchange between manufacturers on the one side and the babywearing scene on the other side. Because, strictly speaking, they are both on the same side: The side that wants to make babywearing itself even more popular and the side that wants to produce baby carriers which are as safe and comfortable as possible.