Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Farewell, Waterloo.

June 2016 marks our presences in the K-W area for ten years, unfortunately, it also marks the end of an era.  Declining sales have forced me to make the difficult decision to close our doors.  It is with great sadness that I'm announcing our last day of business will be Saturday, June 18th, 2016. 

Over the past ten years, our Waterloo store has been staffed by a great bunch of mothers, many of their children have grown up in the store.  Far from 'just' salesgirls, I know these women have been a great resource in the community, providing wonderful assistance to new mothers in terms of offering breastfeeding support and general parenting advice.

The unfortunate reality of our situation is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to compete as a brick & mortar business in the world of natural parenting products.  14 years ago, when I started this business, I was filling a need in the community.  I started the business because I thought other parents like myself would find it easier to buy to natural parenting products in person, rather than online.  At the time, being able to see products in person, and in the case of carriers, learn how to use them properly, trumped the convenience of online shopping, which was still in its infancy.

Over the past few years, we've noticed a trend whereby despite the same number of people coming into the store to learn about the products we sell, our sales have steadily declined. This trend picked up steam over the past year as we had to raise prices to compensate for the weak Canadian dollar, making it harder to compete with WAHMs who enjoy a lower overhead, and big box online vendors, who have the volume to justify slimmer margins.  

As sad as I am about making this decision, the store's closure will bring with it a sense of relief.  I think when people consider an independent business, they forget there's a real live person behind it, usually just one.  Dealing with declining sales (and mounting debt) has crept into every second of my life, it's been tough being the only person to shoulder the stress.  I did not start this business to become rich, I started it as a means to share my passion for natural parenting products with other parents, and to carve out a career that allowed me to contribute to our family's finances, and spend time with our children.  I am proud that I managed to foster a work environment that allowed other mothers to do the same, and I know that they are just as gutted as I am about the situation, but they support my decision.  

I have no plans to close our Ottawa location, but I am slowly adapting its inventory to meet the community's needs.  We have been increasing our gift and toy selection, and I am planning on extending our hours so that we can catch the after work crowd.  I have resisted changing the nature of the store for a long time, but the reality is that we need to sell what people want to buy, and if I want to keep our doors open in Ottawa, I need to adapt to the market.  

Effective immediately, all regularly priced inventory in Waterloo (excluding Padraigs) is marked down 25%.  Clearance prices are not applicable to previous purchases, and all sales are final.  If you have an outstanding gift card, I encourage you to use it ASAP.  Once the store is closed, you will be able to use them online, but shopping in person will save you the cost of S&H.

If you are a K-W area parent, I would greatly appreciate it if you would share this post with friends who are in the market for cloth diapers, carriers, or breastfeeding essentials.  My husband and I will be travelling to Waterloo to pack everything up and bring it back to Ottawa on June 19th - the lighter our load, the easier our job. I would also encourage you to stop by the store, and let the ladies who work there know how much they'll be missed. There were tears when I broke the news to them, and I'm sure there will be many more tears before our doors close permanently.  I know they formed close friendships with each other, and many of our customers.  I feel fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with such a great group of women, I will truly miss them.

Lastly, if there is a local store you enjoy, please make a point to shop there.  I know a lot of businesses in the K-W are are struggling right now due to the construction of the LRT.  Don't forget to show them your love, every purchase counts.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Kindergarten Registration? Consider the Alternative!

At this time of year, parents come into the store lamenting the fact that it's time to sign their children up for junior kindergarten.  Having 'been there, done that' four times myself, I know it seems like in the blink of an eye, your child goes from being a helpless lump to an independent little ball of energy ready to get out into the world.  Certainly, when we were in the position of signing up our oldest daughter for JK 12 years ago (!!!), we were fearful of how she'd fare at school.  Will she make friends?  Will she like her teachers?  Will she enjoy school?   

In terms of deciding which school to send our kids to when we lived in a suburb of Ottawa, the only consideration we had to make was English or French.  As Anglophones who both grew up in Southwestern Ontario, despite its widespread availability in Ottawa, French Immersion was not important to us.  Prior to coming to Ottawa, I had never heard anyone speak French outside of the classroom, where I became quite fluent at issuing commands such as "Open the window!", "Close the door!", "Raise your hand!", and my personal favourite "Shut your mouth!". As someone who moved to Ottawa and managed to carve out a respectable living just fine without being fluently bilingual, exposing our children to French Immersion was not important to me.  My father taught himself to speak and read German when he started dating my mother, so I wasn't terribly concerned about introducing French to our children at a young age, on an ongoing basis - if they are so inclined, they can learn to speak a second language later in life.  We enrolled our kids in regular Public school, and things were fine.

When we packed up and left the suburbs almost four years ago and put down roots near the Shoppe, we had to enroll the kids in a new school.  I was under the impression our only choice of schools would be Devonshire (offering early French Immersion), or Connaught Public School (regular Public, at the time).  In deciding which school to enroll our children in, I was mostly concerned about our son Owen; he was still working on overcoming a considerable speech delay, and according to his teachers at the time, he was lagging behind.  In a casual conversation about school options with someone already living in the neighbourhood, I was ecstatic when I learned our kids were eligible to attend Churchill Alternative School.  I already knew other families who had their children enrolled at Churchill, so I was thrilled that our move had also put us within the school's boundaries. Talk about serendipity!  Now we weren't simply limited to choosing between schools that differed based on whether they offered a French Immersion program or not, we had an Alternative school to consider. 

When casually discussing school choices with parents of preschoolers, parents often dismiss Churchill on the basis that it doesn't offer an early French Immersion program.  Like all kids in Ottawa, the kids at Churchill receive 40 minutes of core French daily from Grade 1 onwards; starting in Fall 2016, all children in JK will receive 50% of their instruction in French. There are schools in the area that offer a middle Immersion program, so if French is an important factor in your decision in terms of which school to send your child to, Hilson Avenue Public School accepts children in grade four into a French Immersion program - the decision to take advantage of a French Immersion program is not one that must be made when you enroll your child in Junior Kindergarten. 

Alternative schools teach the same core curriculum as regular schools, but they differ in approach.  My daughter's former teacher (the talented Shauna Pollock) summed up how kids learn at Churchill perfectly with the phrase "Different kids learn in different ways, on different days."  Rather than apply a one-size-fits-all solution to teaching, the teachers manage to engage kids individually. The core tenets the school adheres to foster a sense of caring and respect among students, and it encourages intrinsic learning; children are internally motivated to participate and succeed.  Owen went from struggling at school, and disliking it as a result, to thriving - it was like someone had flipped a switch.  Our other children, despite not 'needing' an Alternative program, loved their new school.  

At our previous school, like any traditional Public school, our kids received letter grades on their report cards. At Churchill, the report cards do not show a grade (although the report card is filed with the school board with a grade); rather, we receive detailed comments that provide us with a much better sense of how our children are actually faring in class.  The letter grade and canned comments we received from our former school were not helpful, they were just a source of stress for our son, who felt inadequate.  

What the school lacks in French Immersion it makes up for in a comprehensive music program that culminates at the end of the school year with a community concert.  Our kids went from having zero musical ability to being able to read (and compose!) music by participating in the school's 'Ukulele Club.' There are many secondary benefits of musical instruction that influence children's development; as someone who doesn't harbor any musical talent, I'm glad our kids are getting a chance to tap into a creative outlet they would not have been exposed to otherwise.  In addition to the various music clubs, the teachers run a number of interesting and engaging extracurricular activities at recess that expose children to topics and skills outside of the core curriculum.  Given how taxed teachers already are trying to keep up with the basic demands of their profession, I am really appreciative that they find the time and energy to run these programs.

The Alternative teaching model encourages parental involvement in the classroom. Although not required by any means, volunteering in our children's classrooms has given me a chance to witness firsthand how they're doing, and it's given me a great opportunity to get to know their peers and their teachers.  Communication at Churchill goes beyond occasional newsletters sent home in backpacks. We receive regular e-mail updates from their teachers, and many teachers maintain a class blog that gives parents a regular peek (including pictures!) into their child's day at school. Updates aside, having access to teachers via e-mail encourages an open dialog; if we've ever had concerns about our children at school, they are easily addressed directly with teachers.  

I can't speak about the teachers at Churchill without mentioning how highly I think of them. They are kind and compassionate, and above all, they are clearly dedicated to their role as educators. 

We are incredibly fortunate to be a member of this school community, with four years under our belt, we're officially at the halfway point, and I'm already feeling verklempt about leaving. I think I'll take it harder than the kids when it's time for us to part ways!  Moving to the Hintonburg area was a great choice for our family for a number of reasons, the change in school's was an unforeseen benefit that I'd put at the top of the list.  If you live in the school's catchment area, and you are still debating which school to enroll your child at,  I would strongly suggest you consider Churchill. Weekly tours on Friday mornings give parents considering the school an opportunity to see the Alternative teaching model in action.   

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Just keep swimming!

Are you starting swim classes with your little one?   Perhaps you're heading south to escape the cruel Canadian winter, taking advantage of parental leave and free plane fare for the under-two crowd.  Either way, you may be in the market for a swim diaper

Swim diapers, unlike regular diapers, are only meant to retain solid waste.  They do not hold urine because they are unable to distinguish between urine and water, and if they were absorbent, swim diapers would pose a hazard because they would swell and become heavy.  For this reason, regardless if you use a washable or single-use swim diaper, you do not want to put your child into a swim diaper until you are ready to get into the pool.

Will a swim diaper contain runny, breastfed poop?

Customers are often skeptical of a swim diaper's ability to contain breastfed poop, however, you can rest-assured that if your little one is wearing a swim diaper that fits properly, it will do it's job.  If your baby does poop in the pool, even though it will be contained in the diaper, you will still have to get out and change her swim diaper (a poop in the diaper is still a poop in the pool!).  For this reason, it's a good idea to pack a spare swim diaper 'just in case.'

What style should I buy?

Single-use swim diapers pull-on, however, they are made with a tearaway seam at the side of the diaper so you can tear it off.  Washable swim diapers are either pull on, or wrap-style.  Pull-on swim diapers can be a challenge to get on (especially with a small baby), as you have to shimmy that baby into the swim diaper.  Furthermore, if you have to take a poopy swim diaper off, a pull-on swim diaper must be pulled off.   Think about that for a minute.  Easy-on and easy-off aside, a wrap-style swim diaper also offers a customizable fit.

Sized or one-size?

It was only a matter of time, but since one-size cloth diapers have become popular, manufacturers have introduced one-size swim diapers to the market.  Given that 'one size fits all' translates to 'one size fits most', we have elected to eschew this new trend.  When the only thing standing between your baby's turd and a pool evacuation is a swim diaper, fit is important. Something that fits well is going to do a better job that something that fits OK.

Velcro or snaps?

A wrap-style swim diaper will be secured with snaps or Velcro.  Both offer their own advantages.  Velcro is quick and easy, if you have a diaper Houdini, this can be appealing (especially when you're trying to negotiate a public pool changeroom!).  Some people prefer snaps because they don't like the feeling of Velcro rubbing against their skin or bathing suit if they are holding their baby on their hip.

Can I use a regular old diaper as a swim diaper?

You can, but we would only recommend it in a pinch.  Regular diapers are sized assuming there is an insert in there, so an empty diaper (or diaper cover) will fit differently with nothing in it.  Furthermore, regular diapers are laminated, so they will hold fluid in the pool (like a plastic bag, it will catch water, when you pick your baby up out of the water, or move them through the water - a swim diaper will allow water to filter through the fabric).  If you do use a regular diaper in a pinch in a public swimming pool, be sure to rinse it properly immediately after you leave the pool - public pools are typically highly chlorinated, and chlorine can ruin your diapers laminate.

Happy swimming!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

If the Mountain Won't Come to Mohammad...

As soon as you have a baby, your baby's sleep habits will become fodder for conversation with friends, families, and random strangers who feel the need to inquire about a subject that, until you became a parent, is usually quite private.  Before having children, I can't recall a grocery cashier ringing up my eggs, then casually asking how my nights are going, can you?  I didn't think so.  I don't think such questions are ill-intentioned, it's just the equivalent of 'weather speak' between parents, a subject meant to fill in those awkward pauses.  Banal, yes, but a subtle way of enforcing the idea that babies should sleep well at night. 

In recent years, an entire industry seems to have sprung up around the idea that babies should 'sleep through the night.' A recent baby show in Ottawa featured no less than five sleep consultants, all vying for the hard-earned dollars of sleep-deprived parents visiting the show.  Until they are thrown into it, nothing prepares new parents for the lack of sleep that having a baby entails.  It's no wonder sleep deprivation is used as a torture technique used to extract information, it's just as effective at extracting money from the wallets of tired parents who are willing to do just about anything to catch a few extra zzzz's at night.  Forget about the post-baby sleep banter mothers have been subjected to in the past, sleep consultants are now working hard to reinforce the idea that babies should sleep through the night at a young age before a baby is even born, offering workshops to parents-to-be that promise a '100% success rate' (note: no money-back guarantee!), claiming to offer tips that will ensure good sleep habits from day one.  Day one!!!

Self-proclaimed 'sleep consultants' will list the many benefits of getting your child to sleep in long chunks at an early age, if you were to believe their claims, children who wake regularly through the night will grow up to be out-of-control dullards who will fail at life (of course, I'm paraphrasing, but the gist of their promise is that interrupted sleep at a young age will encourage brain development and good behavior).  While I won't argue that sleep *is* important, I would argue that the idea that young babies should 'sleep through the night' is unrealistic, and from a biological standpoint, not ideal. 

The reality is that when your baby is born, she will have a very small tummy.  Newborns must wake frequently to eat frequently, because their small tummy's simply cannot hold much liquid.  Furthermore, breastmilk is quickly digested, which provides another reason for babies to wake regularly.

Nutritional needs aside, like adults, babies wake frequently at night for a myriad of other reasons. They are cold, they are warm, they heard a loud noise, or maybe they just want reassurance that a parent is nearby.  Whatever the reason, sleep disruptions are normal, and do not reflect on your baby or your ability as a parent.  

While sleep consultants will promise you tips and tricks to get your baby to sleep long stretches, I'm a little skeptical of their claims.  Babies are not machines, they do not come with user guides, no two babies are alike in terms of temperament and needs.  Some babies may self-soothe to sleep from day one, many (most!) won't; some babies may sleep long stretches at an early age, many (most!) won't. 

As an example, our first daughter only woke once through the night basically from birth.  The rest of the lot (three of them!) woke many times a night, for many years.  Yes, it was tiring, but we got through it, and while I can remember being tired, sometimes to the point of tears, as our children get older and more independent, I miss the special moments that those middle-of-the-night wakeups afforded us (OK, mainly me).  

On this last point, if you are reading this, and you are a severely sleep-deprived parent, you probably want to reach through the screen right now and punch me in the throat because I sound like a total asshole telling you to enjoy waking up eleventy million times a night because you will miss it one day, but trust me, I'm right (I ususally am).  Bookmark this page and come back to it in 10 years and re-read it, and you'll issue a silent apology to me, and maybe shed a tear or two when you wonder where the last 10 years went.  You'll probably also be googling "How can I get my child to wake up on time for school?" because guess what? You will actually never be happy about your child's sleep habits (true story).  If they're not sleeping enough, they're sleeping too much...

So, what are you supposed to do then?  Where are the tips you thought I was going to offer that would solve all of your sleep problems?  Here it is.  Wait for it.  Are you ready???  Sleep when the baby sleeps.  Nap through the day, or go to bed early.  No, it's not fun, but it's a way to catch up on that desperately needed sleep.  The baby will only sleep on you?  Get a good carrier and carry your baby while she sleeps.  You are not creating 'bad habits', you are meeting her needs.  Baby never sleeps?  Call a friend or family member, and ask for help.  Someone in your life will gladly hold your grumpy baby while you catch a few zzz's.  Baby is waking multiple times through the night?  Bring the baby into your room, or into your bed, or ask your partner to pitch in - that may mean getting up with the baby through the night, or it may mean letting you sleep-in in the morning.  I often hear new mothers suggest their partners *can't* help with nighttime duty because they work. Guess what?  Mothers work too, and their job is just as important.  Nighttime parenting should not fall on one parent's shoulders.

Most importantly, above all, if you simply acknowledge that your baby's crap sleep habits are normal, you'll feel better about the situation.  Adjusting your own ideas of what's 'ideal' will leave you less likely to feel pressured to force your child to adopt what may be an unrealistic sleep routine for your child.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Crying Months...

Here we are, January 2015, two weeks into what my retailer friends often refer to as "The Crying Months".  Historically, January and February are slow months in the retail industry, consumers are recovering from Holiday spending, a lull in sales is common.  This year, however, the 'lull' is more like a sharp, sudden drop off, which has me wishing I wore my brown pants to work  every. single. day. 

I feel a little better knowing that every retailer I know (both within the niche market we cater to, and outside of it) seems to be experiencing the same sudden drop in sales.  It's easy to look at the numbers and believe that somehow, everyone has collectively decided to stop shopping only with us, as if a secret note was passed around behind our backs.  It's irrational to think this, yet every time I see a drop in sales, I have to convince myself it's not personal.  While it's somewhat comforting to know that seemingly everyone is experiencing a sharp decline in sales, it's a little worrisome to consider this could be part of a larger trend.

The past couple of weeks have brought with it horrible weather.  Canada is cold in January and February, that's to be expected, but the recent bone-chilling deep freeze seems to be a barrier to anyone leaving the house.  We are starting to notice the same in the summer, on hot,  humid days, our sales will drop sharply.  And if it's raining.  Or snowing.  Basically, if the weather isn't 'juuuust right', ppl seem less and less inclined to venture outside of the comfort of their cozy homes.  

When other retailers discuss sales trends privately, there's always debate around whether or not it's worth addressing it publicly, mostly because no one wants to run the risk of offending customers.  However, given the recent closures of two Ottawa retail businesses (Elm Hill Kids in Kanata, and Brittons magazine stand in the Glebe), and the expressions of sadness and surprise that always follow these announcements, I think it's worthwhile to remind folks how valuable shopping within your community is, even when it's cold outside (or hot, or snowing, or raining). 

When you spend money with local, independent businesses, more of your money community stays within your community.  Those independent businesses peppering your main street make your community an interesting place to live.  I live within 2 blocks of our Ottawa store.  Convenience aside (I walk to work!), one of the things I admire about our community is the wealth of independent business -- a number of businesses have closed within the past year, and their spaces remain empty (assuming a fancy new coffee shop or dessert place doesn't pop up in it's place).  A main street peppered with vacant storefronts?  Not so interesting anymore...

Aside from the immediate impact on a business owner when they close their doors, there is a trickle down effect.  We purchase our retail supplies locally from another independent business, we rely on a mat service and a window cleaning service to keep our store spic & span.  

In reaction to a lull in sales, we tighten our belts in the winter months.  We scale back our ordering to essentials, and we let our stock thin out a little more than usual.   Often finding ourselves at the mercy of consumer whim, this particular strategy can harm us as more and more customers seem to be less inclined to choose from the stock on our shelf, preferring to hunt for a particular color or pattern rather than buy what's right there, on the shelf (hint: they all work the same).  

Ironically, we still had a healthy amount of showroomers out last week, despite the deep freeze requiring (free!) help with inherited diapers, carriers, and brands of products we don't sell.  I have never refused help to these requests, but I will admit, I can see the appeal of one business owner's approach to dealing with such requests -- when it's time to pay rent or staff, I can't really extend everyone a pat on the back and a 'Way to go team, we helped a lot of people for free this month!"

So.  On behalf of all the independent retailers who are currently waiting out the winter months until the weather is juuuust right, please make the effort to patronize your favorite local stores, every sale counts.  

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What are the odds?

If there's anything I have learned as a retailer in the past 12 (almost 13) years, it's that when things seem to be going OK, they're actually not.  While you're cooling your jets, thinking you finally have everything under control, the universe is carefully balancing the proverbial cherry on top of that shit sundae it's about to serve you. 

Our Ottawa location was broken into last night around 4:30 in the morning.  The glass in the front door was kicked in, the thief crawled through the resulting opening, disconnected our cash register drawer, and strolled out with it - I would hazard it took less than five minutes for the thief to complete the task.  The alarm was triggered, but response time was, *ahem*, slow. 15 minutes lapsed between when the alarm was triggered and I was notified, we received a call at home at 4:40am, we were at the store by 4:45am (like Starsky & fucking Hutch, yo!).  I had naively assumed an alarm system would deter criminals, however, I imagine that anyone in the habit of crash and dash knows that as far as priority goes, commercial break & enters are low on the totem pole of importance when it comes to determining police response.  The alarm simply served as notification that there was a mess to clean up.

When we arrived at the store, I was struck at how tidy the burglary was.  The items that were previously resting on top of the cash drawer were set aside on the counter, the cord was carefully unplugged, the cash drawer was simply gone; nothing else was disturbed..  Once the shock of the intrusion had subsided, I worried about more important things.  Like my hair.  I'm not a particularly vain person, but since cutting my hair short a few weeks ago, I have become increasingly aware of how hard short hair is to maintain.   My previous hairstyle of, oh, 20  years  required a whole 30 seconds to 'do'; short hair?  Not so much.  Just to whip it into a state of mediocrity requires time and product, neither of which were in abundance at 4:40 this morning.

PSA: Filters are your friend.
I went to bed last night with wet, uncombed hair, under the mistaken belief I would have plenty of time to flat iron it into submission this morning.  My usual bedhead was multiplied, like, to the nth power.   As absurd as it was, I was really concerned about how ridiculous I would look to the police once they came to the store (bedhead aside, I was in my pyjamas!).  The police officer didn't bat an eye at my dishevelled appearance (one can assume he's seen worse, although the selfie I took makes me look far better digitally than in person, due in large part to a combination of filters designed to hide liver spots and boob wrinkles.  Unedited version here). 

We filed a police report, not that it will accomplish much aside from providing a basis for an insurance claim.  The glass in the front door was replaced (that was the bulk of the damage), our cash drawer needs to be replaced, and we are out about $300 cash.  I also had our locks rekeyed on the off chance we had a spare key in the cash register. 

After all was said and done, I couldn't help but wonder if I was somehow responsible for what happened this morning.  We had a light over our porch that burnt out years ago (*years* ago!).  I had always meant to replace it, but it was on my long list of things to get around to (a list that remains largely ignored, am I right, Melissa?). Ironically, I was out walking the dog in the neighbourhood the night before and I thought there was a chance our back window might have been accidentally left open. I debated whether it was a waste of my time to go to the store and check the window, asking myself "What are the odds anyone would ever break into our store?"  I did stop by the store to check the window (it was closed), and I can't help but think that somehow putting that question out to the universe resulted in the answer I received within 36 hours.  The last time I asked a question of that nature was when I loaned our van to a friend in need.  As I made that offer, the thought "What are the odds she'll get into an accident?" briefly passed through my mind.  Not even ten minutes after she took possession of the van, another driver backed into her when she was stopped at a red light.  Kind of makes you wonder, huh?

On the bright side, once the police report was filed, I had time to kill while waiting for the door to get repaired, so I took care of paperwork I had been meaning to get to, and that burnt out light over our porch has also been fixed.  We will no longer keep cash on the premises at night so that if we are broken into again, there is nothing to take (I can't imagine cloth diapers have high street value, although I'm a little shocked the thief didn't think to grab a pair of Padraig slippers for someone on his Christmas shopping list, I mean seriously, how inconsiderate?). 

It's an unsettling feeling to know that there's not much besides a thin pane of glass from preventing this from ever happening again, but I would like to think we're at no more risk than we ever were.  I have already stopped by the store twice tonight (!!!), and while I've briefly debated booby trapping the store à la Home Alone, or lying in wait in the store at night with shoe polish on my face and a golf club in hand (to what?  Invite the intruder to play golf?), I am looking forward to a good night's sleep with no interruption.  Hopefully this is the first and last we see of this type of activity, I'm not keen to repeat the experience.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Woven wraps update!

OK, so it took a while.  A long, long while.  I have been intending to restock woven wraps for years, for over three years, to be exact.  We previously stocked Didymos woven wraps, perhaps considered the grand dame of the woven wraps, this brand has been established for over 30 years.  When I started carrying Didymos, we stocked a small selection of colorways and sizes, however, I quickly learned that woven wrap enthusiasts can be a hard crowd to please.  Anyone who appreciates the value of a woven wrap simply wouldn't be happy purchasing whatever we may happen to have on our shelf, and given that Didymos currently offers approximately 100 colorways (I shit you not) in seven sizes, pleasing everyone is a difficult (actually, impossible) task.  

In terms of stocking a woven wrap, I have been looking for something that would be a great entry level woven wrap, a brand that is well-established, but competitively priced.  My goal is to stock something that will appeal to anyone who is interested in babywearing, and considering their options.  Some people may be aware of what value a woven wrap offers, however, many new parents do not, the cost of some brands may induce sticker shock that will see customers' jaws hit the floor.

For the past three years, I have been approaching various wrap manufacturers to gather wholesale prices.  Most woven wrap manufacturers are located in Europe, meaning when I determine our cost, I have to factor in duty, brokerage fees, and high shipping rates.  Many woven wrap manufacturers are not really set up to accommodate wholesale clients, offering a marginal discount that is eaten up once the cost of importing the wraps is factored in.  What that means is that I would basically pay the equivalent of their retail price to stock their wraps.  As a business, I need to mark products up sufficiently in order to make it worthwhile to stock them.  I have to pay rent, staff, and utilities to keep our doors open. 

The phenomenon of 'showrooming' is one that has forced me to be keenly aware of how we price the products we sell.  If what we stock is deemed 'too expensive' by customers, we run the risk of paying thousands of dollars to have stock sitting on our shelf that will be treated as a library.  People will come in, take a look, ask us questions, then go home to order online.  As much as I personally loved using a woven wrap with our children, I have been apprehensive about taking the plunge again because of the fact we would essentially be competing with manufacturers to stock their carriers -- if we can't be competitive pricewise, it's a pointless venture (one manufacturer retails their woven wraps for the equivalent of $70 CAD, yet they have established a SRP within North America of $125 USD -- this would lead to showrooming of epic proportions!).

Enter Girasol, a well-respected German brand that has been in operation since the mid-1980s.  Their wraps are woven in Guatemala using weaving methods that have been around for hundreds of years.  Their wraps conform to European safety standards, and they are woven employing fair trade practices.   They offer a selection of beautiful colorways that should please most palates, and as an added bonus, they offer custom colorways -- we can design our own colorways that would be produced in a limited run.

Our opening order includes the following colorways in sizes 3.6 m, 4.6 m, and 5.2 m, which will accommodate all carries up to a woman's size 22:

Rainbow Herringbone
Graphite Diamondweave

Red ChiChi

Fireworks (lemon weft)

Colorway #25

Forest Diamondweave

Pricing for Girasols is as follows:

twill 3.6 meters$125.00
twill 4.6 meters $135.00
twill 5.2 meters$145.00

diamondweave/herringbone 3.6 meters $135.00
diamondweave/herringbone 4.6 meters$145.00
diamondweave/herringbone 5.2 meters$155.00

We are really thrilled to have Girasol on our shelves, we you hope you're as excited as we are!