QB Baby Carrier of the Week: Spotlight on Pikkolo 3.0 by CatBird Baby

16 Jul

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Pikkolo 3.0 in Apriana, Gingko, Pascale, Cafe Au Lait, and Metro Black are now in pre-order status at QuirkyBaby! Orders placed now will ship during the first week of August with free US Priority Mail shipping and a free pair of BabyLegs or free Rearview Mirror, too!

QB’s Baby Carrier Spotlight this week focuses on the new design of the Pikkolo baby carrier and features an interview with Beth Leistensnider, the talented designer and entrepreneur behind CatBird Baby. CatBird Baby produces not only the innovative Pikkolo hybrid buckle carrier, but also a mei tai and a multi-purpose winter carrier/carseat/stroller cover.

The Pikkolo is one of my top picks in buckle carriers for parents who want a baby carrier that will work as well for newborns as it will for bigger babies and toddlers.

  • Its innovative design incorporates the best features of mei tais (Asian-style carriers) and soft structured carriers. The super-comfortable shoulder straps, padded with slow-recovery memory foam, can be crossed on your back mei-tai style for a front carry or worn backpack-style for a back carry.
  • The optional babywearing support belt accessory allows you to transition the carrier from being worn around your waist for non-bulky front carries with little babies to being worn around your hips for more supportive back carries for bigger babies and toddlers.
  • The adjustable base allows the baby to be carried froggy-legs in at the newborn and small baby stage, legs out with a narrowed base at around 2-3 months when baby outgrows the froggy position but isn’t ready for a full straddle, and legs out with a wide base when baby gets bigger. This feature also allows an ergonomic forward-facing out position for young babies with good head control.

New for 2011, the Pikkolo 3.0 has a number of great new features, including:

  • cinching mechanism at the base is now a ladderlock/webbing buckle system
  • sleeping hood is now permanently attached to the carrier, and stowable inside an internal pocket
  • detachable chest strap is now on sliders for easy adjusting
  • loops on ends of waist and shoulder straps for rolling up any extra webbing length

Shop all Pikkolo carriers and CatBird Baby winter carrier covers at QuirkyBaby now.

1.  What inspired you to begin making baby carriers?

When my daughter was about 7 months old (spring 2004), I was going to fly to Rhode Island to see my friend alone with the baby. I wanted to figure out a way to do this without taking either a stroller or a car seat. In the end, I did take a Volo, but I managed without the car seat (provided on the other end). I read about mei tais, and wanted to buy one but the wait list at the time was about 3 months. I was leaving in a week, so I spent time researching mei tais and made one for myself. It was so boring! It was made of natural color canvas on one side and army green twill on the other side, both of which I picked up off the sale table at the fabric store.  So I put baby on front in the mei tai, had a backpack, and carried a purse and the folded-up stroller on public transit to the airport and it worked really well. Over the next few months, when I used the mei tai and others I subsequently made people asked where they could find them and, when they learned I made them myself, if I would make them one.

2.  How long have you been in business?

Officially since May 2005.

3.  Where is your business located?

Chicago.

4.  Where and by whom are your carriers made?

They are made in several places. The mei tais are made in Chicago by a small family-owned sewing contractor. They also make the winter covers. The pikkolo carrier has been made in Chicago, Estonia, China, and Egypt.

5.  How has your business progressed over the years?

When I first started it, I wasn’t sure what direction things would go. At first it was more on a hobby level, but after a couple years I realized that a huge cultural shift was taking place regarding baby carriers and that the demand for these types of carriers was going to grow like crazy. Things started growing really fast in 2007. That is also when we started to gain much more distribution in retail outlets around the world.

6.  What business practice(s) do you employ that sets you apart from other companies?

Design is the most important thing to me. I only want to make products that I think are well-designed and that I would want to use. I want to make products that I love.

7.  What is your favorite part of your job?

Picking out fabrics, finding new textile designs and/or interesting materials or trims and thinking of ways we could use them. Also graphic design and brainstorming marketing ideas.

8.  Tell us a little about your family.

My husband and I have been married nearly 9 years, together for almost 13. We have two children, a daughter who is almost 7.5 and a son who is 4 years old.

9.  How do you balance your work and family life?  Do you have any advice for busy parents?

I don’t know if I should dole out advice, because I’m very bad at taking my own! Mobile devices make it very very easy to blur the line between work and home. Working from home, which I technically don’t do any more, makes that very hard as well. I think it’s also very tough to separate yourself from the business and delegate responsibility for certain tasks when you are the founder. I feel a compulsive need to make sure that things I promised would get done are getting done, rather than passing them off to someone else and not thinking about it anymore.

10.  Do you have a favorite carrier that you designed that you have kept for yourself?

I actually don’t have a specific mei tai or pikkolo that I have set aside. I used dozens of the mei tais and pikkolos we’ve made with my kids. I have saved vintage fabric mei tais that I made or had made for my sister, who is expecting twins.

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