A baby carrier business is booming on Maui
IT was an incredible plum for ERGObaby Inc.
, a small business on Maui.
The company's baby carriers appeared in Parenting magazine's 20th anniversary issue, listing 20 products the magazine's editors were "so glad were invented in the past 20 years."
"We were just thrilled," said ERGObaby Sales Manager Angela Pennette.
Only 20 products made the list and the Maui-born ERGObaby carrier was right up there with portable DVD players, washable markers and the sippy cup. The May issue accolade has increased ERGObaby sales, she said.
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but sometimes those inventors are moms themselves. The magazine's testers are also moms.
ERGObaby founder Karin Frost created the first carrier on her sewing machine in 2001, when she couldn't find a carrier she liked for her son, Keala Kaj. Kaj is Danish and is pronounced like the Hawaiian word kai, Pennette said.
Frost was off-island and could not be reached, but company publicity materials say she made so many more -- to fulfill requests from friends and friends of friends -- that she established ERGObaby in 2003.
She set up a Web site to sell the carriers and the product received Parenting's Mom-Tested Seal of Approval in 2005.
The company now has 15 employees and distributes internationally. "It's been wonderful," Pennette said.
The ERGObaby carrier can be worn as a backpack, on the hip, or the company's recommended way -- in the front, for heart-to-heart, face-to-face parent-baby contact.
Most sell for $92 online, while organic denim and limited edition models are $105.
The company also sells accessories in all-important matching or coordinating colors, such as a front pouch or backpack, both of which can be attached to the carrier.
The products are manufactured in China, "and we're practicing fair trade practices," Pennette said. "Karin goes to China regularly to make sure everything is going well."
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org