The Small Weaver: How One Person Can Make a DifferenceJun 02, 2020
The Small Weaver - How a Single Person Can Make a Difference
When Kim Taylor first began entertaining the idea of launching her own weaving business, she knew before it ever became a reality that everything would be created from eco-friendly materials. At home her family is thrifty, utilizing simple items such as reusable grocery bags and limiting their use of things like single-use plastics. Bringing that mindset into her business was a natural move.
She found babywearing after having her third child; with two other little ones running around she decided that she needed to be hands-free to be more hands-on. After trying out a few of the standard, box store buys but still not finding what she was looking for, she came across a woman wearing a long piece of woven cloth and she knew that she needed to find one for herself. Thus began her journey searching for the ‘winning carrier + child + caregiver combo’.
photo credit: Honour Handwovens; 'Flight of the Adventurer' warp, inspired by the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movie
Kim never dreamed that it would be possible for her to own her own handwoven wrap. “It's expensive! Being a part-time work-at-home mom (WAHM) - it was way too much to afford. And when you’ve never tried the fiber blend, how do you know how it’ll wrap? What if you spend all that money and hate it?? The whole market was really intimidating.” So Kim set out to create her own business, and in doing so decided to keep it to a few simple fibers that would give a consistent wrap quality every time. And using her background in graphic design, Honour Handwovens was born, with some majorly geeky flair as the company settled into fandom inspired wraps.
Kim decided to use Eco2Cotton as her flagship fiber. She originally fell in love with it when working with Bijou Wear, doing hemming and other fabric works. Eco2Cotton is a recycled yarn that takes the remnants/scraps from the floors of t-shirt factories, where they are then sorted by like color and respun into usable fibers to create a zero physical waste product that doesn’t necessitate excess dye/water/agriculture fields, etc. “And the nubs of the separate but similar colors from when they were respun add a weathered coloring which can be aesthetically very pleasing,” she tells me of the marled, heather look that is very typical of her wraps. Eco2Cotton breaks in like an old sweatshirt and is super soft and floppy, though it remains incredibly supportive.
photo credit: Honour Handwovens; 'Houses United', inspired by the Hogwarts Houses of Harry Potter
Even with the price of costly fibers and the labor-intensive process of hand-weaving, Kim, known in her Facebook chat group as Kay Tay, still wants her woven wraps to be accessible to parents & caregivers. Going with Eco2Cotton she was able to lower her price point but still maintain a profit margin to keep her business moving/afloat so that it could go somewhere. And yarn can be EXPENSIVE. Not to mention that people need to account for the time, labor, and all of the behind the scenes stuff that goes on in this particular type of small business (screen prints, cutting, hemming, warping, threading heddles, upkeep of multiple looms, etc etc).
These days recycled cotton lovers like Honour Handwovens are finding it hard to source Eco2Cotton since the factory that originally supplied them previously went out of business. Kim bought as much of the stock as she could and on the very last day before the factory shut down she bought 400 lbs of yarn! She and all of her affiliate weavers (each one under the umbrella of Honor Handwovens) all utilize the same stock and are now having to supplement for certain colors or to dye the white variation. They are currently working to source the same quality materials from a new facility.
photo credit: Honour Handwovens; 'Improvising' being actively woven in the foreground (inspired by Hermione Granger in H.P. movie 3) and 'Ever in Your Favor' pictured on the loom in the background (inspired by The Hunger Games)
But Honour Handwovens doesn’t stop lowering its carbon footprint with its wrap materials alone. All looms were purchased second hand. Middle markers and labels are screen-printed directly onto the fabric to reduce excess material usage. Recycled craft paper is used for printing labels and everything is shipped from Honour HQ (aka her home) so that packaging materials aren’t wasted through impulse purchasing; even recycled & pre-used Tyvek bags are used over again so as not to add to extra single-use-plastic bag usage. She feels that not being conscious of the little details is a waste of resources.
By investing in these sustainable, small businesses and supporting your local babywearing community you will help build the babywearing community so that it will thrive for years to come, not just in what we do but in how we do it. And although the babywearing industry continues to grow every year, it is hard for small made-by-hand, eco-minded businesses to compete with the cheapness of Amazon products + free shipping or with the large box stores such as Buy Buy Baby, even though they hold a very limited selection of SSCs (soft structured carriers) and stretchy material carriers. Thinking of a great quality wrap as a long-term investment could be the first step on the path to more eco-friendly purchasing.
photo credit: Carry Little Hearts; 'Ever in Your Favor', inspired by The Hunger Games (see this review here)
“It can be intimidating upfront cost-wise,” Kim says. “but even if you are just going to buy one wrap and know one or 2 carries, with a little time investment too you can learn to wear a baby properly. Then you can pass that well-made wrap down to family or friends, or resell it and still make a little profit.”
*photo credit: Jessica Quigley; Honour Handwovens, 'Flight of the Adventurer' (Eco2Cotton blend)