Sweet Slings, llc was officially born in August of 2005 although Shanna has been babywearing and making her own personal slings since 2003. Sweet Slings specialize in Ring Slings, Mei Tai Carriers, and interchangeable accessories for both. In 2008 they launched a very unique style of hanging wetbag in a variety of sizes to suit your entire cloth friendly home.
The Team Hyena interview:
How long have you been sewing? When I was a little girl I used to sit on my Mom's lap while she sewed dresses for me. We were quite un-wealthy but she had an antique black and gold Singer with the thigh press. I even remember the tiny little local shop called "The Remnant Shop" we used to frequent together. And it was my Mother who gave me my own machine when we had our first child in 2003.
Do you have any other crafty hobbies/interests?I enjoy way too many crafts and hobbies, lol! I've taken up knitting since we moved to Montana nearly three years ago. Luckily I'm one of those fortunate people who can knit in the vehicle and since we live at least 2+ hours from anywhere you want to go, I get plenty of knitting time in. Sadly, I'm still a very slow knitter. Our family really enjoys camping and riding ORVs in the mountains of Montana and Wyoming. My wonderful husband has installed some modifications to our "toyhauler" (fifth wheel with a garage) so I can run my sewing machine and serger off the batteries and I love setting up shop after the toys are out. Strangely enough I can say I've sewn in some breathtaking settings! My favorite place to camp is in the Bighorn Mountains is northern Wyoming. We've seen moose (cows, calves, and even a bull!) every single visit for the last two years!
My "Camp Shop"
Babywearing on vacation
How do you fit sewing time into your days?
Not very well, lol! Sewing with small children is a challenge in and of itself. They're very "helpful" which isn't always very helpful, so I do most of my work after bedtime and early in the mornings.
A typical day for me starts about 6:00 AM. I have a few minutes to wrap up work from the night before, then the little ones begin to awake. Take the big kiddo to school at 8:00am, home to get the littles dressed and fed, and some morning wake up time to answer emails and online attention. There's usually a tea party to attend and some monster truck races to watch. Littles are fed at 11:30 because I'm lucky enough to have my husband home for lunch every day at noon, which I thoroughly enjoy. DD has preschool three days a week from 12:30-3:00. While the baby naps and Mommy packs up the days packages. Pick up DD at 3:00, DS at 3:20 and hit the post office before 4:00. These days after school life is getting busier and busier. DD has dance class in a neighboring town (30 min. drive) and DS has baseball practice three times a week (wow! but he loves it.) Dinner by 6:30 with family playtime before and after. Bathes for boys M-W-F, girl on the off days. Heads on pillows by 8:00 and they can quietly read (or read to Mom, Dad, or siblings) until 8:30. I snuggle each kiddo for a few minutes each night and it's my favorite part of the day! We talk about whatever is on their minds and it's always interesting! News with the hubby, some online followup, and then it's time to hit the machines for an hour or two. And that's a day in the life of me.
What made you decide that slings were what you wanted to sew?
That's a great question! I got my first ring sling from our Bradley teacher before our first child was born. I lost it when he was only a few weeks old, so I got some pointers from some LLL friends and made my own. Interestingly, I assumed a pleated shoulder was the norm (this was in 2003, when I don't think anyone else was doing them). With just basic sewing skills, 40 inches of fabric and three inches of rings, it never occurred to me there might be another way. By baby #2 in 2005 I was used to the questions from the public, but the day I had three people within three hours stop me and ask where they could get one, was the day I decided to start Sweet Slings. It was very very natural to share the many benefits of babywearing with other parents, but my business really found me instead of the other way around.
You make wetbags, too, right?
I do make hanging wetbags too. Again, they found me. We had recently relocated just before baby #3 arrived and were living in a small furnished apartment. We co-sleep, but I kept our pack and play in the living room for a changing table and to keep our cloth diapers in the bassinet part. Unfortunately there were no doors, door handles, rails or bars to hang a normal hanging bag from, so I designed what is our hanger style top, to slip over a department store hanger with a swivel top.
What makes your slings different from all the other similar ones out there?
There are so many great slings and Mei Tais on the market today. My designs are based on my personal preferences and needs. My ring slings have a unique style of pleated shoulder that makes it easy to keep the fabric spread across your back. They're wide at 34" and have a long tail because I found it extremely handy for nursing and to shield little ones from the wind, rain, and sun.
Our Mei Tais are bigger then most, mostly because I grow big babies, lol! They quickly outgrew the smaller body panels I made in the beginning, and frugal me doesn't want to spend big bucks on a bunch of different sized carriers. Our straps are some of the widest in the industry at 7" because a wider strap distributes weight more evenly. And I line all the straps with woven interfacing so they stay spread out well and don't crinkle up which can be horribly uncomfortable. Finally I pad the entire body panel and shoulder area with a lightweight batting. I wasn't a believer in padded shoulders until I made myself one, and I was sold on it immediately.
What is your favorite item to make for customers?
I don't think I have a favorite item per se, but I love doing "your fabric" customs because it allows me to work with a huge variety of fabrics I may not have chosen myself. I do love fabric!!!
How did you get the idea to do the MT covers?
I started making the Mei Tai covers in 2006 as a result of an inner battle between "the sewing self" that loved each carrier I made better then the last and "the frugal self" who didn't want to spend the money on a new carrier every time I wanted a change. I realized that while I just had the expense of the supplies, most Mothers had to pay large amounts of cash to purchase entirely new carriers every time they wanted a new print. And thus the Mei Tai cover was born. How much nicer to have 4+ different prints for the price of one new carrier.
What's the thing you love best about your business? The thing you would change if you could?
I love talking and teaching new parents about babywearing! Helping them hands on and face to face and hearing their exclamations about how great it feels and how amazing it is to have their baby so close yet have their hands free. Unfortunately I don't get to do nearly as much of this since we moved to a very rural area in Montana. But I am looking forward to launching our internet consultation feature via Skype, for those folks who don't have a babywearing group or instructor nearby.
What would I change? The hours in a day! Can I please order up 8-10 more I could surely fill them up quickly!
And now ... the giveaway!
Would you like to win a gorgeous little something from Sweet Slings? Here is your chance!
Sweet Slings is offering your choice a diaper sized 17x22 Night Owls hanging wet bag or a ring sling in either pink or navy blue
How to enter:
♥ Visit Sweet Slings and leave a comment here telling us your favorite item
♥ Become a follower of the team blog and leave a comment saying you did (if you already are a follower, let us know in a comment!)
♥ Fan the team on facebook and leave a comment saying you did (if you are already a fan, let us know in a comment!)
♥ Fan Sweet Slings on facebook and leave a comment saying you did so (if you are already a fan, let us know in a comment!)
Please be sure to leave a separate comment for each entry, and be sure to give us some way to get in touch with you in case you are the winner! Good luck - contest ends Monday, May 10th at 10 am est
** Congrats to Katherine, comment #6! We will be contacting you shortly!