Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Babywearing as a Hobby: Collecting, Churning, Selling and Swapping

Mothers have been using baby carriers for pretty much all of recorded history, and as modern mamas in Western nations are rediscovering this amazingly useful skill, some of us are also discovering it can be really fun to collect and trade these gorgeous pieces of cloth! It is absolutely not necessary to have multiple wraps or buy and sell them in order to consider yourself a *real*, well-loved, essential part of the babywearing community. It is just a fun hobby that many of us enjoy a great deal!

Our newest wrap, Solnce Genesis Bliss, bought from a group on FB using PayPal

How to get started
The first step is to buy some baby carriers, learn to use them, and start figuring out what you like! 

Where to learn
There are babywearing groups on Facebook and websites like babycenter.com, and websites like thebabywearer.com devoted entirely to babywearing. There are also great YouTube channels like BabywearingFaith to help learn new wrapping techniques. As you learn more about different carries, fiber blends, wrap widths, taper length/angle, and types of weaves (sometimes known as "wrap geekery"), you will find yourself wanting to try different sizes and fiber blends from different companies to see how they differ and to find the perfect one for you! 
Where to buy 
When originally released, wraps can be bought directly from the manufacturer and from stores like Wrap Your Baby and Marsupial Mamas. Local cloth diaper stores may sometimes also carry more common brands of woven wraps. However many wraps are released in extremely limited quantities and sell out within minutes, so the only way to ever get to try one is to get extremely lucky or to buy one on the secondary market. There are several swaps on Facebook, like the Babywearing Swap and the High End Swap. The common practice in these groups and in the wrap swap sections of babycenter and thebabywearer.com is to use paypal for buying and selling wraps, as it offers some protection to both buyers and sellers in these private transactions. These groups almost always also have spin off "feedback" pages where members can check to make sure they are buying and selling to reliable people. Established members of these groups also commonly engage in paypal backed trades; because wraps can be quite expensive, especially for the most hard to find (htf) and highly sought after (hsa)  wraps, this helps prevent either party in a trade from being taken advantage of while still allowing them to try wraps they might not ever have otherwise gotten to see and use in real life!

How much does it cost?
Wraps themselves range in cost from under $100 for the least expensive options like little frog brand to over $1000 for hsa and htf wraps like artipoppe and uppymama wraps that are auctioned off. Beyond the cost of the wraps, the only real cost is shipping expenses, which range from about $5-20 for most shipments in the US but can cost much more for faster shipping and international shipping. Occasionally you may make money if a wrap you bought for retail price has become htf/hsa and gone up in value, but many in the babywearing community bristle at the idea of charging much more for a wrap than you yourself paid, so tread lightly if attempting to flip wraps for a profit. 

Like any type of collecting, churning woven wraps can be a great deal of fun, and the fact that wraps are beautiful and useful for caring for our children makes it even better than many other items we could be collecting instead!