The story behind the Beco Baby Sling

Beco Foxie baby carrier at the Natural NurseryDesigned by a babywearing parent, active sailor and rock climber, Gabby Caperon. Beco combines perfect ergonomics, excellent weight distribution and stylish design from top quality fabrics. Each carrier is handmade by a skilled seamstress in facilities which apply high social and economical standards. Sustainability and minimal impact of our production on the environment is important to us.

Gabby says:
“I designed the Beco Baby Carrier  in November 2005. Since inception, the design has undergone many changes and today, I still work on improvements and fine tuning. A lot of improvements are based on customer and user feedback.

I’m one of those people who were born with the backpack on their back. In other words, I’ve been wearing one ever since I can remember. This only makes sense, since I am a big outdoor person and I spent most of my childhood and teenage years in the mountains, hiking, climbing and skiing. I have always been very interested in design and functional things, and into making these things myself. Growing up behind the Iron Curtain, where almost nothing was available to buy (unless you had the right connections or were part of a party, which our family wasn’t), to make things ourselves was not a matter of entertainment, but a need. Later on in my life, I did not become a designer as I always dreamed, but went to business school (small business major) and then medical school (massage therapy).

When I became pregnant with our son Duke (summer of 2004), I was working as a crew member on the US Sailing Vessel Curlew, a schooner from 1926, in Dana Point, California. At 7 months, it was time for me to embark a whole new adventure! Thus I became a FAHM (Future At Home Mom). Since I am a very active person, who has a hard time sitting still, I naturally became a bit bored at home. So, I decided to make diaper covers for our coming son. I have never sewn before, but figured, it could not be all that impossible to manage. I acquired a 40 year old Brother sewing machine from a friend. And with the help of a local alteration guy (a great man from Turkey, whom I bothered so much, that we became friends), we got the machine going. He showed me how to tread it, oil it and overall keep it running. He was really laughing at me, when I told him, that I set up a business. I got a business license which says “production of waterproof garments for children”, the closest category to my intentions, which the City had. I said “this will be my new job.” I was actually laughing at myself too.

Before our son was born, I managed to sew him a set of fleece diaper covers in newborn size. And they turned out to work quite well. Anyway, at that point, I was really into the diaper cover making and had a used carrier sitting in the closet, waiting for our first walk. That day finally came! I consider myself a conscious mother, and so just as I was sure that I wanted a water birth, and to co-sleep, breastfeed and cloth diaper our son, I was also very sure, that I wanted to carry him, rather than use a stroller.

We live close to the beach, so I headed for the beach with Duke in the carrier. For the first 10 minutes, I was the happiest mother on Earth; wearing my baby for the first time, proudly, happily. But once we hit the sand, I started to readjust the carrier constantly, wondering, what was going wrong. I’m very healthy and never had anything wrong with my back, until then; I was seriously aching from carrying a 9 pound baby. This experience set off my new desire to find (and/or make) something more comfortable to carry my baby in.

I remembered seeing some pictures of mothers from other cultures, carrying their babies. So I went to library and found books about the life of Native Americans, Africans and Asians. We did not have a computer at home at that time, but I used the one in library. Searching under “traditional baby carrying”, I discovered that I am about the 100,000th mom to do so! 🙂 There was quite a lot of information out here already.

I went home and sewed my very first Mei Tai that day. It was perfectly usable and good enough looking… and I sold it! I sold it to a mom in the grocery store, while waiting in the checkout line; I was absolutely stoked! Since sewing a Mei Tai was easier for me then the diaper covers, my business intention shifted. But I kept the name Ecobabies, since the business license cost a fortune!

This happened in June 05 and I launched the website in July 05. I was making Mei Tais and Onbuhimos, pouches, ring slings and wraps and while the business was doing so-so, it was not really anything magnificent. For a good reason! There were already others, who were doing their job much better then I did. By the fall, my son was 6 months old and getting heavier. Also, making traditional carriers, I was a bit tired of all that wrapping and strapping. Just to make it easier for myself, I chopped the long Mei Tai straps and added double ring slings at the waist and the side of the carrier’s body, where the straps normally crossed the body. It did not look great but was much faster to put on. But since there was no padding whatsoever, it was not comfy either with my growing son. At that point, I took a good look at my hiking backpack. That backpack is one of the biggest investments I ever made, but worth every penny. I based the Beco design on the ergonomics of this super backpack. I tried to make the Mei Tai look and work like that backpack. And that was it! At least for me, I knew I finally got something good. I have not stopped working on the design since then. My first Beco was funky looking made with anything suitable I could find at home.

By spring 2006, the Beco design started to prove itself and other moms and dads liked it. By summer 06, the production increased 4 fold and by this fall 8 fold. I no longer sew the Becos myself; since it would be impossible (I tried!). Today, we have a small sewing shop in Costa Mesa, California, and produce the Becos with the highest quality materials available (the hardware we use is used by the US Army as well) on industrial machines with the help of experienced seamstresses. And I have a whole new realm of things to learn about industrial production, business management and actually being a boss, which is much harder then I ever imagined! I’m still a full time mom and take Duke with me everywhere, which at his 18 months is quite a challenging thing to do (at least for me; he has no problems with it).