Having run an online and brick and mortar babywearing business for over two years now, its surprising to me the difference between which carriers sell best through the website, and which I sell most of in person. From the online shop, our best sellers are Tula Standard carriers and Sakura Bloom ring slings. These, however, are no where near my best sellers when people come into the shop. Here in the shop, a relatively little known carrier, the Catbirdbaby Pikkolo, actually tops the list of best selling carriers for in person sales.
Bringing Home Baby’s brick and mortar shop is small, less than 200 square feet,but we have an incredible selection of baby carriers. We literally stock dozens of different baby carrier products. I look hard for unique, high quality products, often from smaller companies. Most of what we carry can’t be found in big box stores. The reason for building this kind of selection is that baby carriers aren’t a one size fits all product. Each parent/baby pair has their needs for usage, fit, and comfort. I want to have the perfect carrier for everyone. The Pikkolo is one of the more unique carriers we haven because it fills a very specific but not unusual niche. The Catbirdbaby Pikkolo is a hybrid between a mei tai and a buckle carrier, and it’s buckle carrier that comfortably fits mothers with slender shoulders.
My typical customer in the shop is not usually here to purchase her first baby carrier. The majority of the mothers (and fathers) I see here in person seek me out because they have a carrier that they don’t like, and want to try on carriers to make sure they get something that feels right. They got a carrier typically as a hand me down or from a big box store and found that it just didn’t work or even hurt to wear. This doesn’t mean, in my opinion, that they bought a bad carrier. Most of the time they didn’t. They just got the wrong one because there wasn’t anyone available to help them figure out how to find one that really works for them. There are a few buckle carriers that can be found in big box stores, and they’re good carriers. However, they tend to be made to fit the “average” adult American. This target doesn’t include really petite women, especially ones with slender shoulders or who are short waisted. Or both. In these “average” buckle carriers, women of this size find that the shoulder straps fall down, pull at the outside of their shoulders uncomfortably, or come up too high on them. The Pikkolo has some qualities that make it suited for the petite mother.
As a mei tai/SSC hybrid, the Pikkolo gives the sense of a security that buckle fasteners give parents, but can be adjusted to fit a smaller person in ways most SSC’s cannot. First, like a mei tai, it can be rolled up from the bottom to reduce the rise. Secondly, with straps configured like a mei tai, they cross in the back and conform to the wearer. Most SSC’s have shoulder straps that are rather widely spaced and at a fixed angle from the body of the carrier. This is where many petite mothers have problems with buckle carriers; the straps are too widely spaced. The Pikkolo’s straps are just much more adjustable than most SSC’s, but they fasten with buckles, which gives some parents more confidence than a mei tai that relies on the parent’s ability to tie the straps. The reason the Pikkolo is so popular in the shop is because so many parents come in with a different, less adjustable buckle carrier and end up replacing it with the Pikkolo. Another advantage of the Pikkolo over other SSC’s is that since it’s a mei tai, it is usable from birth, by rolling up the bottom, without an insert. So if you’re a petite woman struggling in another buckle carrier, you might consider giving the Pikkolo a try.