Want a private house party/Babywearing class led by our local Babywearing International group?

Our local (Des Moines IA) BWI group is offering a new service as a fundraiser for the group – BWI of CI House Parties! A VBE (Volunteer Babywearing Educator) will come to your house and demonstrate each kind of carrier and give hands on help to attendees.

They are asking for a $20 donation for groups of 5 or fewer and $5 per person for larger groups. This could be a perfect shower activity, a wonderful introduction to babywearing, or just a way to practice in your own home with your friends!

If you’re interested, you can PM Katherine Gamble on Facebook. If you’re already in the BWI of CI Facebook group, you can find Katherine by clicking “Members” and then selecting “Admins” from the dropdown menu. Not on Facebook? Contact me and I can hook you up.

They’re limiting the parties to the greater Metro area – not sure if they’ll come to your location? Ask!
 
This is a REALLY awesome service the group is offering. Many of you have asked me when I’m going to go back to offering in-home classes, and I’ve been putting you off and putting you off and putting you off. The reality is, I’m probably never going to do it again – so this service from our local BWI group fills that hole awsomely! :)

Wrap Conversion Deadline Approaching – is there hope?

Here are my current thoughts on the future of wrap conversions at Wallypop.

1) Wrap conversion Mei Tais using new wraps. I can still do this, sort of. Current industry thinking is that converters need to have each brand/weave tested separately, but the final decision rests with each converter. THIS converter doesn’t see how she can realistically make a decent argument that she does NOT have to test each brand/weave separately, and until the CPSC issues further guidance (which we’ve asked for), I’m following that guideline. So, I will be converting a new Girasol wrap to a standard mei tai with wrap straps and sending it in to the lab for testing. I’m *not* doing this right away – my first priority is to get my regular instock fabric MTs tested/passed. Once I’ve finished the process with a regular fabric MT, I’ll proceed with the wrap conversion. (The MTs could fail the test for any number of reasons. I’m not concerned about the structural integrity, but worry that they’ll fail over my having overlooked some minute detail about labeling or packaging. So I’m going to get ONE carrier through the process before sending in the rest.)

2) Wrap conversion Mei Tais using used wraps with wrap straps. No. After September, no. Not even as a favor.

3) Wrap conversion Mei Tais using used wraps with regular MT straps. For the last year I’ve been saying that I’ll have to stop conversions with used wraps entirely. Recently, though, I’ve started to think differently. For my regular instock fabric MTs, I’m changing my method somewhat – I’m making all of the MTs (from September on out) with two layers of canvas throughout – the “base” of the MT will be a two-layered canvas carrier with two layers of canvas straps. That’s what’s going to pass the testing at the lab. Then ADDING more layers to that carrier will NOT, in my opinion, require additional testing, since I’m adding to, not taking away. So the base carrier, the plain canvas, will be inside every MT that I make. Then I can add decorative cottons or canvas or silk or whatever else ON TOP OF that layer. That’s already basically what I do, but I use twill at the present time. Canvas is just a bit sturdier, and my twill prices have doubled in the last decade, making canvas a more appealing choice on all fronts.  I don’t see how a used wrap would differ from any other fabric in this particular application, as it would not affect the underlying structure. At the present time, I make the straps on WCMTs with JUST the wrap material, and with just one layer of canvas inside – this would change so that all WCMTs would have two layers of canvas throughout. But I should still be able to do it, legally. :)  Yay!   *edited to add: there will be significantly fewer options available. Anything that affects the relationship of the carrier to the wearer will have to be tested separately, such as different waistbands or seat darts. I won’t be able to offer these options until I have them tested to the tune of $400 each. I won’t be offering some of those options ever again, and I won’t be offering some right away but may add them later.

4) Wrap conversion ring slings. These are still OK for the time being. The ASTM standard for ring slings is in the review period, meaning we’re still realistically 6 months or more away from compliance being mandatory. Once we pass the compliance period for this standard, wrap conversion ring slings using USED wraps will no longer be legal (for anyone). Wrap conversion ring slings using new wraps will be OK. I will, just as with MTs, be starting with the Girasol wraps I carry and will be converting those. If those do well, I’m planning to add to the wrap brands/weaves I carry.

A little break

I’ve been working some pretty long hours recently in an effort to move through my Customs list and also manage to get a few items finished for inventory. But! I’m going to be taking a little break in a few weeks and I wanted to let you know how that will impact you.

Truth is, it won’t impact you much. :)

I’m going to process orders this weekend as usual. Then next week, I’ll process orders on Wednesday (June 4), and then I’ll turn off my computer that night and I won’t turn it on again until June 14 or 15. I’ll similarly ignore (or try to ignore) posts to Facebook and private messages on Facebook.

I cannot possibly imagine anyone needing anything urgently that cannot wait for a week, but if there’s something you feel needs to be addressed immediately, Facebook is probably the best way to reach me. (https://www.facebook.com/wallypopIA)

Busy, Busy, Busy

I’ve been busy making as many wrap conversion ring slings and mei tais as I can before the compliance deadline cuts me off, lol. And I haven’t generally been taking the time to take pictures of the finished products, either.

But I’ve also made time for a few personal projects, which I thought I’d share with you today.

PJs
Princess Jammies for Miss Genna. I used an old baseball uniform pattern for the shirt. :)

Shirt
Collared buttondown Cars shirt for Teddy (who has an obsession with all things Cars)

Rabbits
And a totally new set up for the rabbits, with a new watering system that I think I love. (The previous system used flexible hosing, which was nice, but the spigots were just push-in, which meant that the rabbits constantly were biting them off and enjoying a brief but evidently very fun shower. This new system, the valves are screw-in.)

Tornado (or other disaster) Prep

I’m a big believer in the idea that families should be prepared for whatever emergencies might come their way. In Iowa, that means tornadoes and floods. With a storm that went through central Iowa on Sunday came a spate of posts on Facebook: “wow, I’m so unprepared for tornadoes!”

So, in the event this is useful, here’s what our family has done to get ready for tornadoes or any other small-scale local disaster:.

 

Emergency Kit. Our Emergency Kit sits in a large Rubbermaid under the stairs. Under the stairs is the sturdiest part of our house, also the creepiest.

  • Bleach, 1 gallon
  • Candles
  • Hammer
  • Wrench
  • Utility Knife
  • Rope
  • Scissors
  • Nails
  • Saw
  • Bucket
  • Matches, 1 large box
  • Duct Tape
  • Lighters
  • D Batteries that expire 12/16
  • AA Batteries that expire 12/16
  • 2 thick dropcloths
  • Garbage bags
  • Flashlights
  • Corded phone
  • 3 toothbrushes (evidently, I think we can share in a disaster? I wonder if I have forgotten to update the toothbrush quantity with additional kids? Or maybe I added more toothbrushes but didn’t update the inventory sheet.)
  • Rubber Gloves
  • WOrk Gloves
  • Water Treatment Tablets
  • Toilet Paper
  • Soap
  • Purell
  • First Aid Kit
  • Sewing Kit
  • Notebook
  • Phone Numbers
  • Documents (this is photocopies of important documents we might need, in addition to photocopies of pictures of all family members)
  • Pens and Markers
  • Food (Peanut Butter, Crackers, Ramen, 2 MREs per family member for 3 days, some canned meals, and a few freeze dried family-size meals)
  • Our camping stove and fuel
  • Basic OTC Meds
  • Change of clothes for all family members
  • Bug Spray
  • Paper Towels, disposable plates and tableware
  • Laundry Soap
  • Antibacterial cleaner
  • Plastic Tablecloth
  • Emergency Teddy Supplies (feeding tube extras, etc.)
  • 2 lengths of fabric (to use as baby carriers or whatever else)
  • Flashlights and head lamps.

 

On the way to the basement, we pass our shoes, and everyone grabs a pair. If I can, I grab Teddy’s Prograf and syringe.

 

PLEASE NOTE that we don’t rely on getting ANYTHING other than ourselves to the basement. The only thing we really need to grab on the way down is shoes, which are literally stored on the stairs, and if it were really an emergency, we’d forgo those.

 

Then we have our “it’s not an emergency, we’re heading to the basement as a precaution list”:

Teddy’s Meds, all of them. This extends the amount of time we have before his health becomes a bigger emergency.
Teddy’s food, as much as I have prepared, as well as the syringe and tube for feeding him.

Electronic devices (for boredom, as well as because they’re expensive and I’d rather not be without them if our house gets smashed to bits), and children grab whatever they want to do in the basement, but the basement also has toys in it.

Our 72 hour kits and our guns/ammo. (No judging – not only are these expensive items that I’d rather not have to replace, I’m also not going to rely on this being Iowa and a friendly neighborhood in the event the area gets seriously plowed by a tornado.) Also my Machete, which could be handy during tornado aftermath.

More flashlights.

I don’t plan to grab pictures. Most pictures that are priceless to me have been scanned and are safely stored on a cloud drive, so I feel like I’m good there.

 

So that’s it.

I go through our box and our 72 hour kits twice a year, usually at the time change. I make sure the clothes are still of appropriate sizes (I only store winter clothes in any of our kits, figuring that I also have cutting utensils in there and if it’s too hot, we can cut arms and legs off the clothes). I rotate out the food to keep it fresh. I check battery expiration dates, and turn on all the flashlights. Check drug expiration dates in the first aid kit. Make sure the tape and bandaids are still sticky and not old and gross. It takes maybe an hour to update and double check the box and all five 72 hour kits.

Vesi Belts

Remember this project?

Vesi Belt

Belts for kids who have a Vesicostomy? (A hole from their bladder to the outside of their body)

I’ve prepared several belts for the families who were interested in testing them for me, but one family backed out after I’d already completed their belt, unfortunately. Because I don’t want that product to go to waste, I’m HOPING to find another family who’s interested in testing out this awesome product. Their child would need to measure approx 22-23 inches around their waist.

Please let me know asap! Thanks

The Future of Wrap Conversions

This is another fun regulatory topic. But it will impact YOU directly IF you want your wrap turned into a ring sling, mei tai, onbu, or other carrier.

New regulations, which you’ll have PLENTY of opportunity to read about on this blog in the coming months, are going to be going into effect later this year. Actually, the regulation affecting Mei Tais and other similar carriers is already mandatory and the 6 month compliance period expires in September. The regulation affecting wraps and ring slings will become mandatory in a few months. The babywearing industry is now going to be regulated by ASTM standards. (ASTM is an independent, private company that writes standards for various industries.)

These new standards require a new level of testing for all babywearing products. CPSIA requires testing for lead (and, for some products, phthalates), tracking information for all products, registration cards for baby carriers, and certain information on labels. ASTM will require testing for safety and a whole new set of labels. Those of you who have bought certain brands of carriers recently may have noticed the giant new tags with pictures of people showing how to wear them – those are the tags required by ASTM.

The testing that’s required must be done on every carrier that’s substantially different or made from different materials. (As an example, I’ll likely need to change my ring slings to only one or two types of fabric – probably a linen/cotton blend and a light cotton twill, from only one mill. Then I’ll have to test a ring sling made from each of those fabrics, since they’re different, but not each color of each fabric. I’ll talk more about upcoming changes to Wallypop’s product lineup in a future blog.) Others in the babywearing industry are working to clarify what this means exactly in terms of deciding what’s substantially different, particularly as it relates to wrap conversions. However, the testing is destructive (and, might I add, expensive). It also requires a separate carrier be tested for each possible carrying position.

What this ultimately means is that USED wraps will no longer be able to be legally made into conversion carriers.

Why? Essentially, there’s no way to account for the wear and tear on the wrap. The manufacturer (converter) will have no way to be assured that the used wrap is not substantially different from an identical new wrap that has passed the testing. Since baby carriers must be tested for adherence to the standard in order to be legally sold, there’s just no way to comply in the case of conversion carriers from used wraps.

What does this mean for YOU? We anticipate the new standard being made mandatory yet this year. If you’ve been contemplating having your wrap made into a conversion carrier of any sort, you might want to do that sooner rather than later.

 

NEW wraps will still be OK, but converters will face a large compliance expense associated with the testing that’s required. Current guidance from the CPSC’s small business ombudsman is that different brands of wraps, different weaves of wraps, and different fibers of wraps are all considered different enough to require separate testing. (In addition, carriers with different strap styles – like wrap straps or narrower straps, carriers with different body styles – like infant or toddler, etc. will all need to be tested separately. I would not be surprised if this ASTM regulation shuts many smaller converters entirely out of the market. :(

 

I need to note that, intellectually, I support these regulations. Assuming that people who make baby carriers care about compliance and care about babies, it should help make sure that the carriers being sold are safe. That they won’t tear, that the fasteners won’t slip, etc. Practically speaking, considering that well over half of the people currently making baby products including carriers wholly ignore all the OTHER laws they’re supposed to be following, I’m not too confident that, in the real world, this will truly make things safer. Hopefully savvy consumers will know to start making sure that the carriers they buy are ASTM-compliant, but there’s no practical way for consumers to really and truly know if they are. If someone’s not following the part of the law that requires safety testing by a third party lab, what’s to stop them from not following the part of the law that says you can’t lie about compliance?

In the meantime, this is just another giant hurdle making it harder for smaller players like Wallypop. :(  Another set of regulations slowly pushing our marketplace to one that is dominated by large businesses and that excludes in-home, mom-and-pop operations.

Ring Slings Back in Stock

Just a few, though!!

Since we sold completely through the ring slings, and since we knew that, of all our products, the ring slings would be the MOST impacted by the coming regulatory changes, we wanted to take a breather from them and thoughtfully decide how to proceed before restocking.

I believe I have a plan that is workable for moving forward, though I still have a few decisions to make.*

So, for the moment, I have completed a fairly small restocking – just three colors in three fabrics.

I’ve also added a few new features to our ring slings – a tapered tail and two sizes! Our “Long” size is approx the same size as our ring slings have always been. The new “Regular” size is about 10 inches shorter.

 

*The long and the short of it is – what I’ve always liked about my ring slings is that they are available in such a wide variety of prints and patterns. As with most of my products that end up being regulated, it’s that very feature that makes them difficult to get into compliance. Moving forward, I’m going to end up needing to select just one or two basic fabrics to test, and then I can offer slings in all colors and prints in which that one (or those two) fabrics are available.

Projects I’ve Been Working On

I just wanted to share a few of the projects I’ve been working on. I’m slowly working on a few in stock Mei Tais, as well, but customs have been taking up most of my time these days.

Wrap Conversion

Wrap Conversion

Custom Mei Tai   Custom Mei Tai

 

Weighted Blanket

Wallypop Tenth Anniversary Celebration – SALES and GIVEAWAYS

I’ve never really known when to celebrate Wallypop’s anniversary. In truth, our “grand opening” was more of a gradual progression. Do I celebrate the date I sold my first diapers over the internet to some friends? That would have been some time in December 2003 or January 2004. Do I celebrate the day that my boss at my full time job finally told me that the stodgy company I worked for was absolutely never going to consider allowing me to work from home, even part-time, forcing me to come up with alternative income streams? That would be some time in March or early April 2004. Sometimes I think I should celebrate the day that a family member declared loudly that I’d never stick with cloth diapering, thus cementing the absolute certainty that not only would I stick with cloth diapers (and why wouldn’t I?) but that I’d do everything in my power to turn it into a successful business. :) That was in March 2004. Do I celebrate the day the website finally went live and I made my first officially-named Wallypop sales? That was in October 2004. I’ve also generally felt like Wally’s birthday in April 2004 is a significant one in Wallypop history, as his name obviously contributed to the name of the company, his pending arrival prompted me to start sewing diapers and carriers, and it is for him that I left full-time out-of-the-house employment.

So, as we approach the birthday of my eldest, the one who is really to blame for Wallypop’s existence, I think we should celebrate. It’s been TEN YEARS, my friends. Ten.

Ten fun and sometimes frustrating years. Ten years of doing what I love for a living. Ten years of trying to both work and parent. Ten years of singing to babies while I stitch. Ten years of helping kids with LeapFrog Preschool on the computer while I cut diapers. Ten years of packing orders and printing mailing labels and excitedly setting each package out for the mailman. Ten years of still being so happy every time someone buys my stuff. Ten years of feel like I’m mailing out little pieces of myself with each order. Ten years of late late nights and early early mornings. Ten years of getting to know my local sewing machine repair shop very very well.

Only 1/3 of businesses survive to their 10th year, according to the Small Business Administration. In the last 10 years, we’ve had to overcome a lot: a TON of new regulations being thrown at us, upheaval in our personal lives, changing tax codes, skyrocketing cotton and wool prices. We’ve watched as parents moved from relying on Yahoo Groups to relying on Facebook groups. We’ve helped establish local babywearing and cloth diapering groups, and watched with pride as those groups have grown and helped turn Des Moines into one of the most supportive places in the nation to cloth diaper or babywear. And those 10 years have also seen an entirely new generation of parents – very very few of my customers from my first year in business are still in the market for baby things now.

It’s been an awesome journey, and we’re so grateful for our customers for both making it possible and taking it right along with us.

BUT, you didn’t come here to read me wax poetic about the last decade. You came here to find out about sales and giveaways.

 

SALE

To celebrate TEN YEARS in business, you can use code TENYEARS for 10% off your entire order at Wallypop and all of our sister companies (DiaperFAB, LemonDrops, and Boulevard Designs through the end of the month (midnight central time April 30).

Coupon terms: Coupon is good on currently in stock items only (including clearance items). Not good for custom items, made to order items, items previously purchased, or items to be purchased in the future. No rain checks. Good while supplies last. Sometimes things oversell and we feel super bad about that but we don’t have a replicator.

 

GIVEAWAY

We’re giving away ten gift certificates! To enter our giveaway, jet on over to our Facebook page and participate in the giveaway thread over there.  The thread will go live April 10.

 

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