On this date THREE years ago a small group of mothers ran their first West Kent Sling Meet!!!
(Ironically on the first ever meet my daughter/and I were unwell meaning I had to miss it! But I’ve made up for it since having to only ever miss a couple in the years that followed!)
So, seeing as I was asked by a couple of people recently about how we started out I thought I’d write a blog post.
Grab a cuppa, for I’m a waffler and it will no doubt be an essay! (Excuse any typos, this was written on my iphone while I recover from a mild kidney infection snuggled up on my sofa and my thumb has a mind of its own)
I must also apologise in advance if this gets a bit ‘soppy’ in places, I am listening to Kate Bush as I type so we can just blame her for any emotional outbursts!
It feels like yesterday that we all excitedly planned what we had in our personal stashes to bring along and the chattering away via social media group messaging as we all got to know each other having never really met much in real life before with the exception of Christina and I though it was by chance we met for WKSM as we hadn’t been in touch since we had randomly worked together many years before.
Well the first meet was an overwhelmingly big success as were the ones that followed and it didn’t take us long to realise that this project would demand more time than any of us could have ever envisioned!
I was very unaware at the time but I was going through some pretty low times following the traumatic birth of my daughter and so being carried away in the distraction of focusing on helping other parents/carers unbeknownst to me very good therapy and a way to manage my own anxieties, keeping busy was fantastic and I was doing something that I LOVED! Win, win!
I’ll write more on that another day though to save this becoming too long.
As parents with very young children and lots of other commitments it was a LOT to take on and those with lot’s of plates to spin already decided to step away and support us from the sidelines, I really want to acknowledge all that they/we accomplished though in those early months though.
Not just the meets that they attended but also the initial energy/ideas/enthusiasm & support given in starting West Kent Sling Meet up again, (it had previously been run by another set of parents but was dormant when we picked it up).
Christina and Victoria, HUGE thank you’s to you both for what you contributed back in those early days.
Christina has since gone on to do some amazing babywearing related work and has gone on to create Woven Wings, a woven baby wraparound carrier brand which creates the most BEAUTIFUL (and I mean B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L.) woven wraps, all expertly woven by a highly acclaimed UK mill.
Support her via her website and the Woven Wings Facebook page if you don’t already!
Woven Wings website
Woven Wings – Facebook Page
West Kent Sling Meet wouldn’t have been what it is now without the part that you both played in its creation.
It became very clear that people wanted to try before they went out to buy so we began to research sling libraries, at this time there were three of us, Debbie, Vicky and I and we had a lot of fun working out what to buy and what to do, designing hire forms and setting up the Admin (Oh my there’s a lot of admin involved in setting up a sling library!) Vicky and I attended our baby wearing consultancy training course with School Of Babywearing which was so fantastic and really proved to us just how passionate we were about the benefits to carrying a child close.
Benefits that go far deeper than day to day practicalities.
Exploring the research and the science behind why we as humans are designed to carry our children close to our hearts was so inspiring and really fired us up to share Debbie who planned to do hers at a later date. Sadly some months later Debbie too stepped away from the project to focus on her other growing business, her beautiful daughter and has now returned back to Scotland where she supports HCWC from afar!
(At our training with School Of Babywearing back in 2013)
Thank you Debbie, you were such a great colleague, we learnt so much together during that time!!! I wish you lived nearer and could come to some meets still!
Then there were two, Vicky and I decided to do as people were asking and set up the postal hire aspect of the business, it took a lot of work and we spent a LOT of time working via social media messenger to grow the business at every opportunity we could snatch! It helped that we were already best friends so naturally wanted to chat at every chance but the hours we both poured in were pretty mad when I think back!!! The hard work paid off and we have been growing steadily and SO proud of the hundreds (I should really do some accounts/admin and get the ACTUAL figure huh?) of children that we have helped to be carried closer.
I know we have said this before but it really REALLY has been such a privilege to have been able to support you lovely lot as parents & carers as you went on your adventures whilst using our carriers. It melts my soppy heart!
Working with my dear, wonderful friend to grow our ‘baby’ has been such a fantastic journey and I’ve loved every minute of it. As you will probably already know Vicky has stepped away from HCWC to focus on some exciting projects, developing her counselling career and to grow a new squishy bubba to carry in the beautiful stash of rainbow wraps that she has collected over the years.
I’m missing her lots as my business partner but excited to get to see what she does next!
(Here we are setting up sling meet and playing happy Sling Librarian Families haha)
So (and if you’re still reading this then pat yourself on the back!!!) now there is one!
Things that you can expect to be launched very soon (if all goes to plan)
To celebrate our three years, more details of that will be given away soon… hint, hint, there MAY just be a decadent gift from one of my awesome fellow WKSM co-founders in it though for me to giveaway!!!!
I’m very excited and am just working out the logistics but it IS coming people very soon so be ready!
I’m declaring 2016 the year of celebrating and launching new things so…..
The Shop…. squeeeeeee
It was the next logical and exciting step really because our hirers wanted to support the business and go on to buy through HCWC but I wanted to make sure that the busy postal hire library could cope if I started something else.
It will be small but perfectly formed, I want to share wraps and carriers that I personally love. I won’t be attempting to stock the whole library and I also feel very strongly that I will still be on a quest to find the right carrier for you.
As an educator/librarian my advice is always impartial, after all the right carrier for you is exactly that, the right carrier for you!!!
People are always recommending the carrier they love and use which is GREAT but everybody’s needs/shape are different so to attempt to stock them all is a bit much for me at present and so if I don’t stock it (and even if I do) then I feel VERY strongly that it’s important and ethical for me to share where you can purchase from other qualified independent homegrown businesses run by parents just like me.
This is because I understand and appreciate just how bloomin hard we all work to create businesses that will allow us to do what we love and to stay close to our children as much as possible too! *fist bump for my fellow consultants/retailers/librarians across the country so do support us all and buy your wraps and carriers from independent authorised resellers wherever possible!
There are some other very exciting things on the horizon too but I will save those for another day since most of you are possibly already feeling exhausted after reading all that!!!
Thank you for the last three years, you have ALL been so supportive and wonderful, here’s to the next three!!!
P.s if you are local to Tunbridge Wells then come along this Friday (4th March 2016) and share some yummy cake with me!
P.p.s ‘Baby Sinister’ our first and original demo doll now lives with Vicky at her home so do not worry, he will not be walking the streets with that slightly menacing grin on his face! Bless him, he served us very well in those early days before his stuffing popped out!
Love Kitty x