April 2015 - Baby Tula Blog

April 2015 Archive

A peek into the life cycle of a woven wrap

Radiant colors, textured textiles, and energetic designs – what exactly goes into the process of creating a woven wrap, though?

Through customer feedback and suggestions and an active social media community, we select designs and prints that appeal to a wide variety of people. We observe and learn about those that are in vogue in the fashion industry, and select fun, fashionable designs that are popular for the customer base. We are looking at what is fun, fresh, and current in clothing and accessories.  From the runway and the covers of fashion magazines to the pattern on Grandma’s vintage table setting, we are working to bring prints and patterns that are loved by many into the babywearing world.

Once an idea has been selected, we collaborate with designers and artists to bring each concept together carefully in graphic form. These designers work primarily with our mills and most are not involved with the babywearing industry at all, but instead design textiles for many different fabric products! Once their designs are completed and approved, they submit them to the mill as a graphics file. We work with two mills – one in Poland, and the second in the United States – that are not under the “Tula Umbrella,” but with whom we are thrilled to have wonderful ongoing relationships.

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The mill takes the image provided and creates a small sample of the weave in the fabric, which is sent for us to approve. When this sample arrives, we evaluate the design itself, and work on the color selection process. We look through Pantone color books and sample color blankets to select colors, and send them to be dyed at a third party facility. The queue to be dyed generally ranges from about 3 weeks to 3 months long.

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Once our thread has been colored at the dyeing facility, it is shipped to the mill that we work with. There, the mill creates a sample for us using our requested colors, ships the sample to us in San Diego, and awaits approval on these colors and design. We evaluate the sample when it arrives, sometimes making changes at this time, and then finally give the approval to put the woven fabric into production.

The weaving process is the most exciting step of the process! Here at our office, we wait in anticipation as these fun fabrics become a reality! Many people do not know that the fabric comes off the loom in a different size than the final product, and once it is woven, it must be sent out for finishing, which is designed to soften the fabric and prepare it for use.

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Once the fabric is prepared, it is split into two sections – one will be sent to our production facility in Poland, where we will order a coordinating thread color and convert them into Baby Tula Wrap Conversion Carriers.

The second batch is cut, hemmed, labeled, and tested, and then packaged on pallets to begin its long journey to San Diego, where it will be unpacked, repackaged, photographed, and named prior to being posted on social media, listed, and sold. Depending upon quantity of fabric and the mill we are working with, this entire process can take from 6 months up to a year… but it is incredibly rewarding!

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There are a lot of hands involved in Baby Tula Woven Wraps – from concept to completion – and we are deeply appreciative of all of the hard work that goes into bringing many trendy, fun ideas to life in a manner that you can use to hold your baby close.

Tula: Leading the Way in Eco-friendly Carrier Choices

At Baby Tula, we’re not just a business looking at the bottom line. We’re about family, connection, doing our part to change the world, and stepping it up in every way imaginable. We’re eco-friendly, education-oriented, and making a difference the Tula way.

We’re family owned, making beautiful ergonomic carriers with the highest quality materials. Each print is selected carefully, each product is handmade lovingly, each carrier is inspected thoroughly, and each email will be answered personally. We believe in going above and beyond in every category.

We are heavily involved in outreach, from our #tulateaches education series promoting safe babywearing to all, to building communities with our #tulabuildscommunities program and donating carriers and raising awareness to support many incredible causes worldwide through time, resources, carriers, and love.

We are especially proud of our commitment to protecting our environment and to awareness of our social and ecological impact. From making and packaging our carriers by hand in our own facilities, to shipping in minimal packaging to reduce carbon footprint, to using reusable wet bags and recycling bins in our offices and cloth diapers in our homes, we are proud to be an Eco-Excellence award winning company who keeps what is really important in the forefront of our minds.

That’s why we’re proud to be the leading baby carrier company to use eco-friendly fibers in our carriers, wraps and ring slings such as Tencel®. Tencel® is a branded lyocell fiber that comes from the pulp of eucalyptus trees. The trees are grown on sustainably run farms certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The eucalyptus wood pulp is dissolved in a non-toxic organic solvent. The solution is extruded through fine holes to produce fiber and the solvent is recycled in a closed-loop process – more than 99% of the solvent is recovered and reused. We ensure that the fabric processing of Tencel® lyocell fiber does not utilize any harmful chemicals (like formaldehyde) sometimes used to finish this type of fabric. The benefits of using Tencel® lyocell include the traceable and sustainable origin of the wood pulp, and the use of non-toxic chemicals and solvents in the fiber processing. In addition, Tencel® lyocell is a high-tenacity cellulosic fiber, which gives high strength properties to the fabric.

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Tula cares and continually seeks to truly offer an outstanding product for all families…. ergonomic carriers, woven wraps, ring slings, and wrap conversions that keep our future decision-makers close to our hearts, while protecting the home that they will one day inherit. We are proud to make products that can be trusted to be there for you with comfort, safety, and beauty when your family needs us most, whenever that is… and to doing so in a way that honors our eco-friendly values and our tradition of excellence.

 

Building Community – Tula Aloha Style

Earlier this year, we (Ula and Mike) had the opportunity to visit Hawaii with our children. One thing led to another, and soon we were planning a meet up with the local Baby Tula group, Tula Aloha! Our trip was amazing, but the most humbling part was hearing the cadences of how Baby Tula has helped so many find a community that they could relate to, a support system and family when far away from their own, and a group of mamas and daddies who, due to their common love for Tula Baby Carriers, were instant friends and willing to help with whatever, whenever!

We love community and family, and to us there is no greater benefit than to have the chance to see parents and caregivers holding their loved ones close, and to make connections to others, and that’s why we are excited to share some of their stories and connections. We couldn’t be happier than to be able to witness and be a part of this growing love and connection of Tula and babywearing building communities.  Thank you for letting us share your words, Tula Aloha!

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“Being a mom is the best blessing and my Tula has only enhanced that experience. Tula has helped me find a community who shares the love of holding their babies close and exploring beautiful Hawaii. It’s incredible to find a welcoming group that makes it feel like home here.”
– Kristian Harris

“It all started with one Tula. Every time I wear it, I know it’s going to strike up a conversion and every time I see a parent wearing a Tula while out in public, I know that we will have an instant connection. Tula has led me the most uplifting and welcoming group, my Tula ohana, and with them I have gained confidence and family!”
– Brittani Cooper

“Friendly. Funny. Helpful. Generous. Kind. These are just some words to describe the parents and children I’ve been lucky to meet because of a common interest in something as simple as a baby carrier. It’s amazing to see everyone come together to enjoy playdates, give back to our local community, and just enjoy babywearing!”
– Lisa Johnson

“Being a first time mom, I didn’t have a community of mommy friends to call on when I didn’t have a clue what I was doing!  Not only did (Tula) provide me with a way to bond with my daughter and build confidence in my ability to care for her, it also gave me a community of like-minded mamas that I now call some of my closest friends!” 
– Jodie Burgess

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HOW CAN I HELP?
Written by Abigail Agpar

How can I help?  It’s a phrase heard around Tula Aloha even more often than “Tula in the Wild.”

Whether it’s sponsoring a Tula for a family in need, a last minute babysitter, a stocking buddy or just a supportive ear, brought together initially by their love of Tula Baby Carriers, Tula Aloha families have built a community filled with love and support that extends beyond a love of Tulas and babywearing and reaches out to serve the community around us with several volunteer events throughout the year.

For our March playdate, we wanted to find a way to help not one, or two, but as many families in our community as possible. We chose to hold a donation drive in support of a local spouse and children’s abuse shelter. What started out as a small event hoping to raise a few car trips of donations quickly became something much greater. The messages came flying in: “I’d like to contribute,” “How do I volunteer,” “What I can I donate,” and of course “How can I help?” Work-at-home-moms and local small businesses teamed up; strangers working side by side collecting, sorting, packing, lugging – all while baby wearing and making new friends. At the end of a very long day, we delivered a U-Haul truck FULL of essential items including over 1000 lbs. of clothing and almost 900 needed items. Instead of “I’m so tired,” it was “Please let me know if you need anything,” and “When can we do this again?” A month later, as donations continue to come in and we plan for our next event, this Ohana continues to love and support each other, along with the community around us, in any way we can.

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#tulabuildscommunities

 

#tulabuildscommunities: Culture and Community Project

#tulabuildscommunities: Culture and Community Project
On appropriation and appreciation

At Baby Tula, we pride ourselves on building communities, both big and small. We love the sense of camaraderie that comes with finding fellow baby wearers and parents, and the beauty in learning that you are not alone on the path of parenthood. That’s why respect of communities is very important to us.

In our search to provide the most fashion-forward options to our customers, we have tried to select prints that appeal to a wide variety of tastes. In doing so, we chose certain prints that we felt honored tradition and cultures, but we learned that they in fact appropriated those cultures. We deeply regret these choices, and are truly sorry.

As we learned about cultural appropriation, we became passionate about educating ourselves and helping to raise awareness. We therefore launched a project under the name “Culture and Community,” which we are now ready to share.
Our Culture and Community project is two-fold; we focus on RESPONSIVENESS and RESPECTFULNESS.

 

Our initial actions focused on responsiveness. We immediately worked to educate ourselves about cultural appropriation through focused research and outreach to educational institutions. We reached out to those doing excellent work in the field at various universities and organizations for research assistance. We studied the differences between cultural appropriation and appreciation and the nuances thereof in pop culture, the media, and in fashion. As we learned, we responded by pulling products we were concerned about from our production line and discontinuing prints. We planned and considered how to address cultural appropriation with our audience in a way that helps to raise awareness, build community, and maintain a climate of justice and mutual respect while still offering expression of individuality and diversity. We are still learning.

 

Cultural appropriation is a challenging subject. It is one that involves the adoption of various motifs or elements (such as dress, dance, music, language, cuisine, religious symbols, etc.) of another culture, most frequently one that has been oppressed or exploited. Oftentimes, cultural appropriation is a reflection of stereotypes. It is harmful, hurtful, and damaging to a spirit of equity, inclusion, and diversity, and partnership. It is harmful to communities.

 

That is why we are committed to the second piece of our mission, respectfulness. In keeping with our beliefs that we, as a world, have a responsibility to band together in mutual respect, sensitivity, and justice, we have been focusing our efforts on the evaluation of prints going forward. The eyes on our prints aren’t those of only one demographic, but of many, and our goal is to continue to work with experts and students in various fields including social justice, psychology, law, and anthropology, to select prints that meet our high standards. Fordham University Law professor Dr. Susan Scafidi has written a groundbreaking book on the topic: Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law (2005). Her work was a great step in learning more about this topic. She offers advice in her article, “When Native American Appropriation is Appropriate,” which really resonated with us, and which inspired our action and follow up.

 

She said:

“Staying on the right side of the inspiration/appropriation divide requires individual awareness and attention to three S’s: significance (or sacredness), source and similarity. What’s the significance of the necklace you’re about to put on: is it just jewelry or a set of prayer beads? Did the source community invite you to wear that traditional robe, perhaps via voluntary sale, and does the community still suffer from a history of exploitation, discrimination or oppression? And how similar is that designer adaptation to the original: a head-to-toe copy, or just a nod in the direction of silhouette or pattern?”

While the beauty of a global community is that it allows for many different cultures, demographics, societies, and influences to blend together, respect remains paramount in importance and must be continually considered.

Please keep an eye on our blog for more information on how our Culture and Community project has hit the ground running and has driven our passion to learn more about—and support—our mission of building communities.