Monday, December 7, 2009

Sign the line, Kimber

*** I am now able to add this: Congrats to LeAnn Contessa, owner of Taylormade Slings, who is also the owner of the Ball Baby mei tai now. Thank you for taking my Baby LeAnn!***

So, I am sitting here staring at a small pile of papers.

It is the contract that signs Ball Baby to the new (wonderful) owner.
I just signed it.

I'm having a moment.
My heart is happy and sad and ready to move on and wanting to go back. This is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.

It is just a pile of fabric, this should be easy.

But it isn't.

However, I pride myself on doing things even when they aren't easy to do, so I'm going to do this, I'm going to mail this signed contract to Ball Baby's new (wonderful) owner. I'm going to say good bye to something great that I created and let it go into the world and become something even better. Because I know what the new owner plans to do with my Baby and it is going to be fantastic.

I feel like a birth mother handing her newborn away to some (wonderful) adoptive parents. Silly, right? Perhaps. But I have spent the last 4 years putting my heart and soul into this business. I've had some awesome moments, some hurtful moments some learning moments and some holy crap moments. I've built lifelong friendships because of Ball Baby and I've lost a few too. Ball Baby has given me so much on so many levels.

Now, like a birth mother giving up her newborn baby, I want to tell you a little bit about how it came to be:

When I had Buddy 4 1/2 years ago, I was determined to find a way to manage Belle while caring for him. I had a few other carriers, but they just didn't work for me. I stumbled onto the pouch carrier and I bought a Hotsling. It was love at first wear.

A few weeks later Sam had this idea: What if I made my own pouches and sold them?
You see, we were living on his cop salary and that salary was (and still is) a total joke (not that I'm not grateful he has a job, I am, but for what the officers do... another time). We HAD to find a way to supplement.

I decided to give it a go. One problem: I couldn't sew. Enter Drew. My baby sister who  lived one town over and could sew fantastically. I told her the idea and she tinkered around with it. A week later we had our first fleece pouch. (Little sidenote: our pattern was too close to a hotsling. Drew changed it and I apologized to Kristen DeRocha--- hotslings owner--- who graciously accepted my apology. So began my staunch stance on copying other's hard earned designs. But that is a story for another blog post.)

We sold pouches all winter at craft fairs. It went pretty okay too. Drew sewing, me doing demos.

But, I was looking down the road and I could see that the babywearing market was flooded with pouches and that I needed to find what would have more selling power.

With zero sewing experience and even less designing knowledge, I made the Ball Baby mei tai pattern.

Drew was too busy at this point to sew testers, so I took matters into my own hands (and God's).

I pulled out the sewing machine my mother in law had given me a few years ago. I couldn't even thread the bobbin without Drew sitting over my shoulder. But I was going to do this.

I said a very heartfelt prayer along the lines of, "Lord, I've got to help my family and I've got to learn how to sew. Let's do this."

A day, some broken needles and way too many cuss words later I had finished the first Ball Baby mei tai. It was very ugly. But it worked. The next one was better. And the one after that was even better. One of my favorite moments was reading a review of Ball Baby that said that my stitching was so perfect and exact there was no way a human could have made it.

Things just snowballed after that.
I started teaching babywearing classes, a wonderful woman just gave me my website design (I can never thank you enough Kristine), I started learning more and improving my business practices. iStores starting carrying Ball Baby. Sales were... crazy. I outsold Sam's monthly salary. More than once.I was learning so much and I was developing this passion for babywearing and other parts of attachment parenting. I could see Sam and my parenting evolving into this wonderful hippie-riffic stew of parenting styles that all focused on bonding with our kids. It was so exciting.

While the good was snowballing, there were some negatives...
Some people thought I only advocated babywearing so I could make a buck. That wrong assumption hurt.
I also had a lot of trouble with copy cat businesses, so I did something I think a lot of people thought was foolish. I put my pattern online for free so others could use it. Something amazing happened... I sold twice what I had been selling and my copy cat problem virtually disappeared!

I think the best moment was going to Chicago and teaching and meeting all these wonderful women I had "known" online for years who also owned businesses and who loved babywearing like me. That was wonderful. I felt at home there.

But... my mission statement always had one caveat on the business... if it Ball Baby took precedence over my family it had to go.

That happened last year.

I was so busy I was paying sitters to watch the kids, hiring out the work... it was too much. I knew I couldn't keep going without hurting my family.
So I put the brakes on the growth of Ball Baby while I pondered.

For months.

This summer I woke up one morning and told Sambo it was time to sell. I called Drew and told her. I think they were surprised, but they were cool with it.

We had no debt in the business which made things easy. The seller became obvious quickly and while I had a lot of people talk to me and a few offers that financially were better, this seller is the right person for this business. She will take the best care of it and will treat it right.

Now I am here. About to say good bye to a business that taught me so much.

I learned:

how to sew
about website design
lots of fun tax stuff
that even good people do dumb things for money
that giving something away for free returns more than you could imagine

that I can change the world, one mama at a time
that things are just things and family is all that really matters
that I am capable of anything I want to do

I learned more but those are the biggest lessons.

I love this business. I will miss it.
But I am ready.
Piano has taken off in a big way. Much more than I thought it could. And I love it. So I am still helping my family but in a more manageable way timewise.
Ball Baby made it hard for me to do true advocacy work with babywearing. Now that won't be a problem. And my heart is in the advocacy work much more than it was in the selling part.

I have sewn thousands of baby carriers. I will still sew more... as gifts.

I will never stop loving babywearing, the parenting lifestyle I have learned. I will never stop being grateful for Ball Baby and the opportunities, the lessons I have learned. Thank you for that.

I cannot wait to watch my Baby grow up with her new home. I hope I will be involved here and there in her evolution, but if I'm not it is okay too. This is a hard moment, but I can let go.

For my supporters and customers over the past 4 1/2 years... thank you. Thank you my babywearing friends around the world for teaching me, correcting me, laughing with (and occasionally at) me. Thank you for pushing me to always do my best, for saying nice things about my product. Thank you for not laughing at the hick from Idaho. Thank you my local friends for supporting me, wearing my carrier and cheering me on.

For my detractors... thank you. I needed your negative comments and actions so I would force myself to improve. I made a better business and I am a better person because of you. I hope that I earned your respect at least, but if not... that is okay too. No one can please everyone all the time.

For my sister Drew... thanks sis. I couldn't have done this without you. Thanks for not laughing at me too hard when I sewed that first carrier and you had to drive up from Rexburg to reload the bobbin for me. Thanks for being so supporting and thanks for coming to Chicago with me and having a hippie party. One day I'll teach you how to wear your own baby. Can't wait.

For my kiddos... I'm all yours now (except during piano lessons, then you have to play in the play room please). You are the best kiddos. Thank you for being the reasons I started babywearing and thank you for proving to the world that babywearing is a wonderful thing.

For Sambodini... you make a lovely cheerleader, but work on the splits a bit more. Seriously, I'm so glad you came on my granola journey with me. I'm so grateful that you are secure enough to wear your kids and advocate it to everyone. You are pretty much awesome. Thanks for kicking me in the butt when I would get discouraged and thanks for bragging me up all the time. I needed it.

For the Good Lord... well, he and I talked in private. We're cool.

For me... Kimber, you did what you said you would do. You may now check it off the list and move to the next item. Get off your butt and get to work.

Well, you heard the lady. I'd better get to it then.

9 comments:

  1. Good job Kimber, you've done amazing work, and you have improved many mom and baby relationships. I totally admire you and your hippie-ness.

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  2. I've said this to you a million times, but I'll say it again. You're amazing! I don't know how you do it! I hope you're happy with the next phase & that ball baby continues to be wonderful!r

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  3. Ah, thanks for the nice words sis. You know, it's all Joe's fault I even got involved in the first place. I remember when you first tried to talk me into sewing some pouches for you I said no. Later when I told Joe about it, he was all, "You said no? Why? It sounds cool!" So I decided to give it a go. Who knew it would bloom as much as it did? All thanks to you, too! You put SO much work into it and I'm glad your happy with what you made! I'm excited to see where the new (wonderful) owner takes it next!

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  4. Thank you for sharing Kimber! That really was inspiring and also brought many of my own feelings to surface with my little business! I loved reading this post! And congrats and on to new and more adventures!

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  5. I keep trying to write a response to this, but the bottom line is this: you'll never know how much your carriers have meant to me and my little man. They have snuggled us and bonded us and helped us and saved us.

    I remember the very first time I got my 8 month old baby on my back in an orange flowered BBO -- angels were singing, I swear. He's now three (!) and I can still wear him on my back in that very same carrier. Comfortably! It's like a reset button for us both and transforms cranky afternoons into happy snuggle time.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I heart you very much.

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  6. Thank you for everything you've done for babywearing! The first MT I made was from your pattern. That MT has been passed along to my sister and her friend, who is now getting ready to use it on a second baby!

    Sherry

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  7. It made me tear up to read this, I can only being to imagine how proud you are and how bitter sweet it is to turn it over. Good for you mama!

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  8. Kimber you are an inspiration to all who know you. I know this because i barelly met you and already I respect you. Thanks so much to be willing to help me out when I needed help.
    Monica Warner

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