Introducing Inspirational Women in Babywearing

Despite having two small children, recently moved into a new area and having no experience in manufacturing or retail, in 2012 I became the owner of Sleepy Nico. I spent 8 years running this wonderful British baby brand and it was an incredible experience. As a child though running a manufacturing business hadn’t featured on my when I grow up list.

In fact, I had wanted to do lots of different things including be a doctor, a sweet shop owner and a novelist. The writing stuck with me though but for many reasons despite dabbling a little I did a lot of other jobs including being a librarian, a recruitment consultant, working in a garden centre, IT trainer and an administrator.

Sleepy Nico was the first thing I stuck at and I loved the way it fitted in with my family and gave me the opportunity to bring joy and comfort to other parents.

At the end of 2020 I sold Sleepy Nico and decided this was the moment to follow one of my childhood dreams. So I am starting with what I know – babywearing. One of the things I loved most about working in the babywearing industry were the amazing and inspirational women I met. Now I have the priviledge of documenting their stories.

Angeline x

Creative Babywearing

Kati Hrivnak, Mamaruga

I see so much creativity in the babywearing industry, whether it’s companies designing innovative products or individuals making an impact on their community with great services and bright ideas to help parents. Everyone has their own unique perspective and ways of helping others creatively. Kati Hrivnak, creator and owner of Mamaruga is one of these inspiring people. I have known Kati for many years and admired her beautiful products and creative flair so it was great to have a focussed chat about how she applies it to everything she does.

Looking at the Mamaruga website you can already see that Kati does not follow the crowd. It’s a babywearing company making a range of exciting and gorgeous products; from baby slings suitable for newborns and up, to luxurious and tactile muslins, towels and blankets. I met Kati years ago at a London show and was captivated by the quirky designs of her woven wraps, she gave me a scrap which I still have up on my wall because I loved it so much. I assumed she had an artistic background but in fact back in her homeland of Hungary Kati studied to become a teacher and librarian. She tells me she would have also loved to have pursued design but funds didn’t stretch to three different educational routes.

Before her son was born here in the UK Kati was working as a waitress and yoga teacher. As a new parent Kati tried sling after sling, trying to find what worked for her family but couldn’t find the right thing. It was her husband who suggested she designed her own and this suggestion gave Kati the opportunity to explore her love of art and innate creativity.

I wanted to hear more about this creative side that went unfulfilled when she was younger and I asked Kati how she comes up with an idea for a new product. She tells me that,

“Ideas are coming to me in different times. For example during the state when I am not sleeping that deep, while I am cooking, taking my dog for a walk or taking a sip from my herbal tea.”

I think we can all relate to this, how the seed of an idea can arrive at the most domestic of moments or when your mind is elsewhere. The creative process is rarely linear, she then goes on to describe how she consolidates these ideas.

“I do research. Reading articles and blogs about fashion and design. Checking New York fashion week, pattern designers work, contemporary art in general. I am interested in art, so it is very joyful for me.”

The range of designs on Kati’s products are a mix of playful, peaceful and artistic, they really do reflect this process and the situations she finds herself in. It is so interesting to find out what inspires Kati and allows her to bring the joy in her life to families all around the world. It comes as no surprise that what makes Kati happy are found in the natural world, her love of family and friends as well as her passion for the arts. These all feed into the design of the fabrics and unique touches to her products. How wonderful then that parents can carry their child in something which has had so much thought put into both it’s functional design and aesthetics.

‘Is the future for Mamaruga design-led?, I ask. In fact Kati tells me for her the future has to lie in making her company as eco friendly as possible. Kati is looking at all the details, from recycled polyester labels and eco-friendly webbing to the packaging of her products. I think her simple but stylish paper sling packaging is already great but she wants to ensure everything is as ‘green as it can be’, which is no mean feat for a small company but I believe completely doable when it is run by by such a committed woman.

Kati wants the future to be beautiful and caring which seems like the perfect ethos for a baby carrier company. It’s what we want for all our children and it’s the perfect start to life to be carried in a sling that embodies all of this.

Slingababy, a part of life’s big adventure

Lorette Michallon

Lorette is a storyteller and being the owner of Slingababy is just one of her many adventures that make up this beautiful story. It turns out that our conversation is less about running a training company and more about how to live!

Lorette came to the UK for a work placement some years ago as part of her studies at Chemistry School in France. She had been enjoying student life a little too much and had just started to apply herself so that she could have a career. Then whilst on her placement she fell in love, so rather than going back to France she took a job offer and decided to make her home here. She was also working several ‘mini jobs’, all sociable and customer focussed – running a bar on a Friday night and waitressing for an events company. What Lorette really wanted though was to start a family.

The next part of her story also starts with love, this time a romance with a talented musician, the man who was to became the father of her children. It wasn’t long before she was expecting their son and that was when Lorette found her way to babywearing. It was a facebook photo a friend posted with her baby snuggled up in a wrap that jogged a memory from way back. In her teens Lorette spent a couple of months living in the 18th Arrondissment of Paris and admired all the black mums with their babies on their backs. This was the spark and what followed was a lot of research until she had found exactly what she was looking for. She called her parents and told them she was coming home so she could attend a Je Mon Porte Bebe class. And so Lorette’s lifelong love and relationship with slings began. When her son was just a few weeks old she made a similar visit in order to attend their back carrying workshop. More courses followed and then consultancy training both in France and in the UK, lapping up every course that was on offer to add to her growing knowledge.

It was after attending a couple of UK consultancy courses that she commented to a friend that she felt something was missing, that even with all of the training put together it wasn’t quite covering everything she wanted to know. Lorette’s helpful friend suggested she set up her own, what did she have to lose? If it was no good then no one would come. But they did.

The first Slingababy Course had two attendees, the second had three and its format has changed little since then. It is still held over four days and covers all the different sling types with a community project to be carried out afterwards in order for attendees to complete the course. I did it 8 years ago and one of the loveliest memories I have is that she cooked lunch for us all every day. This simple nurturing gesture really stuck with me and demonstrates what is at the heart of Lorette’s business and lifestyle – which is love. This is the point when I ask her about the business and its future, but I already know that Lorette doesn’t see herself as a businesswoman. She is a big hearted person who follows her feelings and takes opportunities when they present themselves, ‘profit’ and ‘scaling up’ are not in her vocabulary. Slingababy is a wonderful way to work because it allows her to be the parent she wants and to help others simultaneously. She works just four days a month and spends the rest of the time with her children.

Before the pandemic Slingababy allowed Lorette to travel, initially with her son and daughter and then with her partner. She has taught all over the world and has spread her unique and focussed perspective as far as New Zealand. This sounds like an incredible way to witness the differences and similarities in parenting the world over, but in fact she has seen very few big cultural differences in the way people parent. The hardest thing to hear was in South Africa when one mama on the course recounted how she was only able to see her daughter once a year because she worked away. An unthinkable situation for most of us, but necessary for many the world over, not just in Africa.

When she wasn’t travelling with Slingababy she and the children were taking in the sights of the UK in their campervan which is now also their home. Currently the van and family are at a standstill but Slingababy is not, with online courses and CPD continuing to inspire. Lorette refuses to ease up on her mission to spread love through her teaching. Showing parents and caregivers one of the greatest tools for connection and contact – the use of a sling!

Speaking out for Black Babywearing

It’s Black Babywearing Week UK and I met with the lovely Vanisha Virgo to find out why it’s particularly important this year and discovered an inspirational woman with a deep commitment to others. She immediately tells me that the birth world lacks representation and that “Babywearing is not a business, it is as old as time”. Vanisha believes strongly that carrying is just one aspect of being a parent and for black and brown parents it is part of their heritage. This celebratory week which runs from the 14th – 20th June seeks to connect parents and invites them to share their stories. Before we went on to talk about this in more depth I wanted to find out more about Vanisha and how she became an advocate for babywearing.

This big hearted Mum has over 25 years of experience working as a childcare practitioner, she is also a doula and a breastfeeding and babywearing peer supporter. It is lovely to hear that whilst homeschooling her son she finds time to nurture and support so many others on their journey to or through parenthood. Her passion for babywearing and it’s ability to enable parents is overwhelming, she tells me that it’s the most underrated tool of parenting and as BBWUK this year promotes, she is helping others to connect with this to help them as a parent or carer. Vanisha’s commitment to equity is clear in the workshops she runs and her advocacy work, which includes some thought provoking articles demonstrating how entrenched racism is in this field and its affect on both mother and baby at such a vulnerable time.

“It has been a hard year for black and brown people,” she tells me and sensitively points out that they do not need to be told ‘how to wear’ babies. Of course that doesn’t mean that they don’t need support in learning how how to use carriers but it’s really important to acknowledge that they have been using slings safely for centuries. ‘A sling is useful for everything’ she smiles ‘washing up, carrying the shopping, tidying the house. It’s the most natural way to parent’. There’s no arguing with that, it is an incredible tool for getting things done but also to connect with your child; helping to calm your baby, enjoy skin to skin and be close. Babywearing also enables parent and child to communicate at the same level – particularly important at the moment when babies have spent so much time away from others and it can feel overwhelming out in the world. Parents and carers can feel that their baby is more secure, facing in and close to them, tucked away from strangers and a closer contact they might not be ready for.

These are the simple things in life and of parenting, they come naturally to Vanisha who is just desperate to share the wonders of carrying, connecting and closeness. This is what Black Babywearing Week UK 2021 is all about, enabling black and brown parents to connect with one another, their children, their families and also their ancestry. Through the simple act of holding their child they are taking their place in the world as parents and carrying on a tradition whilst nurturing one another. It is not an ordinary year and this is all being done virtually, to connect with the Black Babywearing community use the hashtags: #Bbwwuk21, #Reconnecting, #reclaimingourheritage, #representationmatters, #blackbabywearing

Vanisha laughs and smiles throughout our conversation, her light touch with such an important and powerful topic demonstrates how accessible she makes this to everyone. When I point it out she laughs and tells me that she just goes with the flow. This is the perfect way to sum up a lady who as well as working hard to enable and empower parents and children loves to rollerskate and hot tub in her spare time – she is a rollerskating, babywearing advocate so stand up and listen to this force of nature.

Visit blackbabywearingweekuk on Instagram and Facebook to get involved.

Coorie in with Laurna

Laurna Hislop, Coorie in with Love

It is no surprise that Laurna Hislop’s caring and supportive business is called Coorie in with Love. Coorie is a Scottish word which means to hold close or cuddle and listening to Laurna talk about her work is as close to a hug as you can get at the moment! She has taken her love of learning and created a way she can share it so that she can help others. Whether you are a new Mum struggling with a baby who won’t be put down or a business owner who needs training on how to use social media effectively, Laurna has time for you all.

Laurna is a warm and intuitive person, the sort of parent who always has time for her children as a quick burst of breastfeeding during our interview demonstrates. Laurna is a mother of two children and another baby – her business, Coorie in with Love which she set up in 2016. It offers sling library services, consultations, training and social media management within the babywearing industry. When I laugh and say is that all, she also remembers that she creates training videos for other businesses and runs sling walks. She finds time for everybody and it all started from finding a love of carrying her first child and the desire to help others who might be struggling with parenthood.

Laurna describes what she does as ‘a career by accident but exactly what I want to be doing’. Hearing about the joy it brings and her enthusiasm for helping others is quite infectious and I want to hear more. Like many new parents finding the right sling for her took a little bit of trial and error, starting out with a cheap one from ebay which after just one go she dropped into the depths of a cupboard, it was so uncomfortable! Her next try was more successful with a stretchy wrap which she absolutely loved. She felt it really helped with what was a tricky start to parenting and she found that holding her baby close had a really positive impact on her mental health.

During the early days of motherhood Laurna decided to train as a breastfeeding peer supporter and it was through this that she was introduced to babywearing as more than just a word for using a sling. She took the opportunity to attend a one day School of Babywearing course which left her wanting to know much more. She describes finding out that something she was enjoying so much could be made into a career as an amazing moment. Learning about how to take control of carrying her baby changed how she felt about being a parent and consequently the path her future would take. From these small steps into learning Laurna went on to set up a local sling library, train as a consultant and then run her own studio.

Where does being a social media manager fit in? Surely that means she’s holed up in front of a screen rather than helping people. Laurna tells me that she’s a shy person and pushes herself to be out talking to people or making training videos. She loved being absorbed in so many courses about how to use the socials and make the most of them for her business, it seemed obvious to her to then share that learning. She now ably trains other babywearing professionals on how to develop their skills in this this key area of marketing for business. How lovely that she is able to support her peers as well as parents, it is of no surprise when I read reviews like this:

“Laurna is so friendly, helpful and welcoming but also professional.”

This encapsulates what is at the heart of Laurna’s business – her desire to look after others. She describes babywearing as her ‘happy place’ and it seems this accidental career of hers is enabling others to find it too.

Preloved – for the planet and your purse!

Jeni Atkinson, Little Possums Preloved

Talking to Jeni is the loveliest experience, she is an honest, down to earth mother who has a sincere desire to help parents carry their children. A mother to five children, she remembers clearly the days when buying a second hand sling to carry her baby in was beyond her means. Now she runs a thriving small business that allows parents to buy a safe, preloved baby sling with payment options, enabling those who might not have been able to afford one to buy an essential piece of baby equipment. She is really humble about this, assuring me she is not a business woman but someone with a simple idea that meets a need.

How does it work? Jeni buys in second hand slings and baby carriers, often from manufacturers or bulk sales from sling libraries. She meticulously checks them, washes, irons and then photographs them before listing them for sale in her facebook shop. Customers can organise a payment plan if they wish and rather than having to pay all the instalments before receiving their purchase, she posts out the sling straight away.

“A parent can’t wait six months for a sling, they need it now,” she tells me firmly and there have been almost no problems with people paying. I’m not surprised, she has such integrity, often talking potential customers out of buying a sling by helping troubleshoot with their current one. Jeni also carefully researched and spoke to experts to ensure the payment plans meet with all financial regulations.

Another key element to Jeni’s work is ensuring the longevity of baby carriers. By buying second hand slings she is helping prevent waste or useful items ending up in landfill. Preloved slings have little packaging, paper instruction booklets or other wasteful elements. Little Possums is encouraging parents to reuse items and reduce waste and therefore tread more lightly on our planet.

Jeni sounds really organised, but this is met with laughter as it turns out her son is the one who helps Jeni with company spreadsheets and stock takes, as well as packing for when there are events or shows. Thank goodness for family.

Family is absolutely at the heart of what Jeni does, Little Possums Preloved supports her family and helps many others. They recently sold their 1000th carrier she tells me proudly, that’s 1000 happy customers and babies. What a lovely image that conjures up.

Recently Jeni has also become a Director the Calm Family Group. She is enjoying running courses for parenting consultants and peer supporters, which is wonderful to hear. She admitted earlier during our chat that she originally did her peer supporter training back in 2015 so she sounded like she ‘knew what she was talking about’ when she went to sling meets. She certainly is an expert now and I can’t think of anyone lovelier and more approachable to do this sort of training. Jeni is a woman with a caring and compassionate approach to everything she does for all families with a desire to keep their babies close.

From Babywearing to Smallholding

From carrying a small being to becoming a smallholder!

I have been publishing a blog weekly but have struggled with this during the school holidays. Rather than school runs or early starts my time has been spent outdoors with the children and the dog, walks with friends and our many animals. Unlike in term time the opportunity to just sit and write (or do admin) has eluded me. This morning though, my daughters had a friend over to play and whilst they ran around the garden and cycled past the window back and forth I managed to throw some words on the page. So rather than an ‘Inspirational Women in Babywearing’ interview I thought you might like to hear about how I’ve made the leap from being a baby carrier manufacturer to a smallholder!

It’s not a usual career path, sling maker and retailer to miniature farmer in just over three years, but there are parallels. Like many of us who work in baby focussed industries, I only became interested once I had become a Mum. Now my daughters are a teen and a tween, it seems the keen interest I had in all things baby related has turned to animals and country living. Not that everyone who moves out of town immediately starts gathering animals with a view to self sufficiency. With us it started with the acquisition of pets, a hamster joined our two cats (not literally) promptly followed by two guinea pigs. Then a year later chickens arrived and we loved watching their funny ways and how their individual personalities shone through. When a dog caught Vanessa the hen we felt two chooks wasn’t enough. Where else would a wannabee farmer buy some hatching eggs? Ebay of course. Duly six eggs arrived and our two remaining chickens kindly sat on them until excitingly three of them hatched. I felt pretty busy at this point. Two cats, two guinea pigs, a hamster and five chickens seemed like quite a workload. I was running Sleepy Nico, driving my children to school an hour away and training for a marathon. This country living malarky was certainly full on.

Marigold, Cinnamon and the chicks

My husband had been talking about sheep since we moved out to the sticks and much like my neighbours – who nodded a lot with a look of disbelief when it was discussed, I didn’t really think it would happen. After all, what did we need sheep for? Two more guinea pigs had already joined us after our dear little hamster went off to the big wheel in the sky, we were full or so I thought! Then it was lockdown and hubby began working from home indefinitely and that was when the real shift occurred. Two rather delightful rare breed pigs arrived. Ali could often be found in the pig pen scratching their backs or listening to their gentle and insistent grunting. I confess to finding it hilarious that during the first lockdown the only time I left our home was to transport livestock, it seemed a world away from my usual school run and grab some time to post on social media lifestyle. Not long after the pigs a chance message to a dog breeder I knew meant our lovely Lab Haru soon entered our life. At this point we had already made a decision to sell Sleepy Nico, I couldn’t give it the time it deserved and life seemed to be taking us in another direction.

Our Saddleback and Oxford Sandy and Black pigs

Never mind the guinea pigs, days spent managing a puppy (who ate everything and still does!), feeding the pigs, homeschool and Ali spending every spare moment he wasn’t working putting up stock fencing for the alleged sheep – we didn’t have a minute. Then our flock arrived at the end of last November and they really were enchanting, with their wooly faces and happy bleats (mainly when the feed bucket was shaken). We were the hapless owners of 9 rare breed Boreray Sheep and although we didn’t know a thing I had read a couple of books by the Yorkshire Shepherdess, it was enough to begin with. We tupped them a week after and are expecting lambs any day now. Sleepy Nico sold in December and all of a sudden I was no longer in the world of babywearing but solidly a country smallholder.

Frolic, Fizz, Echo, Evita and Wallace the ram

The days are busier than I could have ever imagined, the school run is back on and inbetween I’m walking the dog, feeding the animals, cleaning the animals, dealing with the vet and now, working as a writer. Is it fun? Sometimes is the honest answer. Just as with children or in fact a business, it’s a mix. It’s wonderful to see the animals thriving, living as free range as we can manage (not the guinea pigs you’ll be relieved to hear) and making our home a productive and moderately self sufficient one. But really it’s about enjoying the way of life and that’s where the leap from babywearing comes in, Sleepy Nico was my business and there were good days and bad but the most important thing was that I loved doing it and it excited me. It gave me the opportunity to help parents nurture their babies as well as the relationships I made through it. The same now for our smallholding, it’s at the heart of our family and our home and I can’t wait to see it grow and develop.

Angeline x

PS Since I wrote this on Friday we have adopted a little lamb and she is currently living in our laundry room. She is totally adorable.

Inari the four day old lamb in the laundry room/downstairs toilet!

A Woman of Integrity

Sarah Sadler, Integra

At the heart of the Babywearing Industry is a professional, successful and brilliant woman. Sarah Sadler, owner and creator of Integra baby slings is everything I had expected. She is someone I have always been in awe of, when I worked in the industry she was the benchmark I was always working towards. What I didn’t know then is that outward appearances don’t tell the full story and that the success she initially had with Connecta taught her many life lessons, leading to the happy place (both personally and professionally) she has found with Integra Slings.

Sarah was made redundant whilst expecting her first child and the family felt the pinch on one income after their first daughter arrived. She discovered the joys of using slings with her second baby and became a huge fan of babywearing. Sarah quickly became a bit of a local expert and made lots of friends and connections through this new found passion. In turn this led to setting up her own sling shop from home and selling brands that she used and loved. The opportunity to buy a manufacturing/retail business came up and so Sarah took on Connecta.

Connecta was incredibly successful and very quickly so, for a busy Mum who had been selling slings to bring in extra income for her family she was propelled into an exciting and corporate world. Running it all initially from home, which wasn’t quite big enough for their growing family, it now had a rapidly expanding business squished in too. Sarah admits freely that she has an aptitude for marketing and dealing with the media. The skills developed in her previous role in music merchandising were key to this and enabled her to handle the demands of the business world. Firstly they expanded into a garden office, Sarah packing orders with a baby on her back or a box as a makeshift playpen. Then they took the plunge and opened a shop. This gave both Sarah and her husband Darren the opportunity to meet with customers and really engage with both Mums and Dads. It was a heady, exciting time.

Then Sarah became ill and for a year her life was about treatment and recovery. Business could not be at the forefront of their minds and this in turn led to them losing it. At this time, her friends and colleagues from the industry rallied around to support her and her family. I asked Sarah later in our chat who inspired her and without hesitation she said it was all those wonderful people who stepped up when she was just surviving. Thankfully the treatment was successful and Sarah returned to health and decisions to be made about her future. Without hesitation Sarah continued straight on the path she had forged but with a new product. I’m sure the support and love shown to her was a huge part of this decision and enabled the brand Integra to be born.

Sarah also left behind ‘businessland’ as she calls it. It was a male dominated, product led world where no one talked about babies, she was never comfortable there. Now she could use all her knowledge and experience with Connecta to help put Integra into the hands of families without having to compromise her own needs and integrity. Success is what an individual perceives it to be and for Sarah her vision of this now includes taking care of herself alongside her business, this means working in an environment that is authentic to both. When you buy an Integra you are buying a functional and beautiful product designed by a parent for other parents to use. Sarah always puts being a mother first and understands to thrive that is what her business, customers and family need too.

Love to Honour

Shabnam Kwofie, Amawrap

I love the story behind Amawrap and what it means to owner Shabnam Kwofie.

This is a product created with love and steeped in tradition. Shabs’s family, Indian in origin but from Uganda and her husband, a Ghanaian originally from Zambia have always known carrying.

“It’s not a big deal to families in Africa” she tells me it’s “just something you do”. This is illustrated perfectly during a family holiday a few years ago in Ghana when an ‘auntie’ scooped up their overtired toddler and wrapped him to her back. “I hadn’t met this lady and she didn’t know Micah but up he went and calmed down almost straight away.” A sling win!

Despite this heritage, Shabs didn’t know she was going to wrap her babies. She grew up in Leicester and was immersed in British culture. She discovered that being a new Mum, living in a first floor flat in London, recovering from a c-section and suffering from PND were not a great recipe for using a pram. Resourcefully she bought a large piece of stretchy fabric from the market and transformed it into a comfortable and practical baby wrap. Life was instantly easier and a close friend asked if she could have one made for her four week old. They were a striking pair in their burnished orange wraps walking around East London. Soon more Mums were asking if she could just ‘whip up’ a wrap for them and much to Shabs’s surprise they wanted to pay for them!

Amawrap was born and a business woman too. Shabs runs the business by herself, which she loves despite it being a huge challenge. She has her fingers in all the pies and knows how everything works; the manufacturing, marketing, sales and customer service. She is extremely proud that the product she makes is 100% cotton and made in the UK. I wanted to know how she went about getting them made and it turns out a good friend of hers worked in the garment industry and was able to help her make the right connections. Shabs didn’t work for Amawrap full time straight away but went back to work and juggled her job, the fledgling business and her young family, it was an exhausting time. After they moved out of London it made sense for her to commit to Amawrap full time so she could be at home and make her time work, rather than pay for childcare.

Shabs’s passion for her business is clear to see, her face lights up when she says how she and her husband “Love to honour” the tradition of babywearing with the Amawrap. It is a nod to their family’s culture and rich ancestry, this is why it’s called the Amawrap. Ama is their daughter’s ‘house’ name, a Ghanaian tradition with each child being given a christian name, house name and surname – it’s based on their sex and day of the week that they were born. I imagine that many of their customers are as delighted to hear of this as am I, but the other big challenge she faces is being a ‘small fish in a big pond’ and getting the story behind the product out to new families and potential customers. There are a lot of slings and baby wraps available and Shabs is busy trying to make herself heard in such a crowded market place. I know for many of us the person behind a product is as important as the other aspects (ease of use, safety and longevity to name a few), I feel that the more people know about the ingenuity, hard work and love behind the Amawrap the louder her voice will become.

My Brilliant Babywearing Business

Zoë Woodman, The Sling Consultancy

Chatting with Zoe I am instantly struck by how she is a woman who creates a path for herself and then follows it. Something which has been the case throughout her adult life. This is why she is such a fantastic example of how you can create a career within the carrying industry. Zoe is a babywearing consultant and coach with a passion for the wellbeing of future generations. This is what drives her but it all started with a new baby, house move and the local NCT group.

Moving to a new area with a small baby back in 2010 Zoe joined a local parents group to meet other new mums and dads in the area. She ended up volunteering and this in turn led to the formation of a sling library with another Mum. She had always used slings, like many of us by initially using what a friend had recommended. Zoe certainly wasn’t aware that her purchase of a baby carrier would bring new friends, skills, knowledge and ultimately a mission into her life.

There are sling libraries all over the country created in much the same way. A couple of passionate parents getting together and sharing their knowledge and experience of carrying their children with others. Often they have quite a collection of slings and this in turn becomes a lending library. It’s a fantastic way to try out what works for you and your child before committing to buying anything.

It wasn’t until 2016 that Zoe and her friend took the Slingababy Consultancy course and from the very start she wanted to run a professional business. The Sling Consultancy was created and Zoe had a clear vision of how her business would be and the market she was aiming at, her name and logo reflecting this. Zoe offered consultations at family homes alongside continuing to volunteer at the sling library.

Promoting the science of carrying your child came along later but it defines Zoe’s approach to babywearing. Attachment and carrying are good for your child’s brain, the science demonstrates this and her work is to ensure the healthy development of infants and onwards right up into adulthood. It sounds ambitious. She is absolutely clear about this core aim and I am so impressed with the clarity with which she discusses it but also her understanding of the longevity of her goal.

It’s not the only thing Zoe is absolutely passionate about, one of the founders of ‘My Brilliant Babywearing Business’ a coaching group for those working as sling librarians, consultants and others in this industry. Many women in this field find it difficult to charge for their time and the support they give to others, one of the main elements to this group is to help them see value in what they do. It is inspiring to hear her talk in this way and it’s evident that Zoe must be a role model to many just starting out or feeling overwhelmed with their work.

Alongside her consultancy, coaching and enjoying her busy family life Zoe is writing articles, running training courses and being central to this vibrant and growing industry. I can’t wait to see what else is along the way for Zoe and to see her achieve her final goal, influencing the way we all parent to ensure that our children grow up with the best chances possible in their future. Go Zoe!