As we put together our Babywearing 101 guide last year, we loved the personal stories of how each baby carrier was created, usually as one mother looked for a solution that would work for her and her babies. We want to share these great stories of baby carriers with you.
This week, we start our baby carrier profiles with Melissa Radcliffe, founder of TogetherBe, which includes Peekaru baby carrier vest, Peekaru Ozone, and FreeHand Mei Tai baby carriers.
Please tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
TogetherBe was started by myself, Melissa, and my husband Hamilton. We have 3 children, William 7, Nora 4 and James 18 months. We live in Denver CO and are lucky enough to work together as a family out of our home. TogetherBe manufacturers baby carriers and baby carrier accessories including the FreeHand Baby Carrier, Peekaru Original, Peekaru Soft Shell and Peekaru Ozone.
I’d love to know how the name TogetherBe and Peekaru came to be.
When we were brainstorming names for our company, Hamilton and I had pages and pages of names, but none of them felt right. One day he looked at me and said, well, even if we can’t name our company, we can still be together, maybe we should call it BeTogether, or what about TogetherBe? It just felt right!
The Peekaru was originally named Nori, after our daughter Nora. After a year with the name Nori, we discovered that Nori was already the name of a brand of clothing. We didn’t want to infringe on their copyright, so we sent the call out to our customers and friends to help us rename it. Peekaru is a play on ‘Peek A Boo’ which is my sons favorite game while in the Peekaru, and Kangaroo, which is what the Peekaru resembles.
What inspired you to become a manufacturer of baby carriers?
When my daughter was a baby, I had her wrapped up in a baby carrier while dropping my son off at preschool. We live in Denver, and it was cold out. I was wearing my husbands XL ski coat, and looked a lot like a bright orange watermelon. So, I went home, pulled out my sewing machine and created the first Peekaru. I wore it around for a few weeks and was stopped often by other moms who wanted to know where I got it. I knew I was on to something when I went into my local baby store and she practically attacked me with questions. So, I contacted a pattern maker, and lined up a sewing house, created a website and jumped in with both feet. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I’m so glad I took the leap.
Did you ever have an ah-ha moment when you realized how much a baby carrier really does help?
I’ve had hundreds! My first son was very high needs. He wanted to be held ALL THE TIME. I loved holding him, but really needed to get things done. Simple things, like brushing my teeth and making a sandwich. I got a ring sling when he was about 3 months old and used it for hours everyday until he was 2.5! When my daughter was born, I again learned the value of a good baby carrier. Now I had to hold my baby and chase my toddler at the same time! I explored wraps and Mei Tais with my daughter and was a pro at back carries by the time she was 6 months old.
Are there unexpected ways that you have seen a baby carrier make your own life or the lives of your customers easier?
Once, I was flying alone with two kids. Our plane landed at midnight and I had 2 sleeping kids, one was 3 years, the other 6 months, to carry through the airport with our luggage. I luckily had a long wrap with me, tied them both on, one on the front, one on the back and easily pulled the suitcase through the airport. I even held the door for another mother who was trying to maneuver her stroller!