Sling meets usually offer the chance to discuss babywearing and look at slings and carriers that people bring along. Sling libraries loan out slings, usually taking a hire fee and deposit. No training or insurance is required, though some venues may ask you to have public liability insurance. You can access sling library insurance (which includes public liability, product liability & professional indemnity cover) after attending a one-day Babywearing Peer Support course offered by the School of Babywearing. It’s worth noting that most libraries run as non-profit and the costs of buying slings are likely to outweigh any potential takings for quite some time. Discounted slings are available from some manufacturers and details of discounts available are regularly sent out to everyone listed on the Babywearing UK local support page (babywearing.co.uk/local support). You can also check to see if there is an existing sling meet or library near you. A Babywearing Consultant works on a one-to-one basis with parents, helping them to find the right sling(s) or carrier(s) for them. Training usually includes reviewing anatomy & physiology, baby development and facilitation skills, as well as practising the use of a range of different slings and carriers. Consultants usually charge for one-to-one appointments and workshops, which can cover the costs of your training, insurance and the purchase of demonstration slings, all of which need to be taken into account when planning your business.
Carrier making is another way of running a babywearing business but it’s important to look into this thoroughly and build on existing sewing skills. Claire Mackenzie-Neville, from Kitten Creations (kittencreations.co.uk), a sling consultancy, design and carrier making business, has been making bespoke carriers since 2008. She advises people interested in making carriers to consider that “the amount of research, administration and customer service that any good carrier maker provides, along with the expense of equipment, advertising and insurance, makes this job a labour of love more than anything else.” Claire is a member of the UK Committee of the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA), babycarrierindustryalliance.org, which offers advice on what to consider before starting a carrier making business.
THREE COTTAGE INDUSTRIES
OSCHASLINGS are a family business based in the East of Scotland. There is a strong tradition of artistry and craftsmanship within the family that weaves into the intricate designs of their fine jacquard woven wraps and dye work (pictured). See the range at oschaslings.com.
OYSTERBABY slings are beautifully crafted from 100% organic bamboo and cotton and are handmade in England. Specially created for mothers and fathers who love to wear their babies with style, safety and comfort. They are gorgeous as well as lightweight, breathable, supportive, incredibly soft, versatile and safe. oysterbaby.co.uk
POUCHLINGS are a UK based, family-run business offering a wide range of slings and baby carriers, suitable from newborn right through to the pre-school years. Their ranges include Ring Slings, Wraps and Infant and Toddler Mei Tais – many of which are available in Fairtrade Organic Cottons. See pouchlings.com.
Victoria Ward started up babywearing.co.uk as a social enterprise. The School of Babywearing (schoolofbabywearing.com), part of Babywearing UK, raises funds by providing a range of training accredited by the Open Colleges Network.