ON ALL UK ORDERS
ON ALL UK ORDERS
The Sa-Be Story
In the beginning.....
Sa-Be was founded in 2008 by sisters Rebecca (Becky) and Sarah. Whilst pregnant with their firstborns they went along to a baby show and bought a couple of bandana style dribble bibs having never seen anything like them before. They both liked the idea of the bib especially for dribble but didn't like the design or the size of them. Sarah decided she would like to try making some more for their children, so she came up with her own pattern, added a polyester fleece backing and gathered the top fabric so to help catch the dribble. She made a few for their own children and the mums at the local baby group asked for some too.
Having both heard about the benefits of carrying babies from their sister-in-law Emma when she had chosen to carry their niece, they had looked into which slings they wanted. Both chose a stretchy wrap style as these were seen to be best for new babies and easy to use for beginners to babywearing! Rebecca was unhappy with the width of the fabric and raw untidy edge (not to mention the price!) that she decided to make her own. Whilst searching for the fabric she came across a large amount at a bargain price and made her own tubular design, eliminating the raw edges and creating a narrower neater wrap. It worked brilliantly, and Sarah and several friends asked for one too! As Rebecca's baby grew the tubular fabric supported her very well and she found that the older and heavier the baby got, the wrap continued to support and distribute the weight very evenly. Rebecca and Sarah were asked about their carriers almost every time they went out. Rebecca made a few for mums at the baby group and their friends were asking too.
Building the Sa-Be brand......
After a discussion between the sisters the name Sa-Be (SayBee) came about using the Sa from Sarah and the Be from Becky!
Sarah jokingly designed a logo (the very same one we still use today!) and using iron transfer paper, a printer and a white pillowcase made some cute Sa-Be Baby Wear labels for the bibs and carriers.
When Sarah chose to return to work when her baby was 9 months, Rebecca returned to work (assistant manager of a garden centre) just one day a week, looking after nieces and nephew during the rest of the week. The passion Rebecca had for creating affordable comfortable baby carriers that everybody could afford meant she could not give up Sa-Be, discussions followed with Husband Andrew and they decided she must continue working on the Sa-Be brand. It was also at around this time Rebecca found she was expecting a 2nd baby too!
Rebecca enlisted the help of business link who were very encouraging and supportive during those first months. A large (risky?) cash injection was required to start the business, along with organising business insurance, testing, sourcing fabrics, manufacturers, design protection, photo shoots etc.
Rebecca and Sarah's brothers Dan and Pete played a big part in the start up too. Dan (background in IT and his wife Emma (graphic designer) built the Sa-Be website, Pete (Media / Marketing background) designed the Sa-Be instruction booklets, posters, flyers and banners.
Business link mentor Janet was fantastic. Always on hand with advice and a list of contacts she was able to put Rebecca in touch with for further advice. Janet also managed to get funding for the first professional photoshoot and set Rebecca up with a photographer who was also a fellow Business Link entrepreneur - a local fashion photographer complete with studio and makeup artist for 2 days! It was there that Rebecca met Clare (Huddersfield Sa-Be agent and head of despatch!) She had been invited through a mutual friend to come along to model the baby carriers along with her friend Kathy (now the Sa-Be blogger!)
The whole spare room at Rebecca and Andrew's house became the Sa-Be store / office. Andrew built in floor to ceiling shelving in preparation for the first batches of slings from the manufacturer. A total of 484 slings were on the way. Each one, 5m in length, needing quality checking, folding and packing! In the beginning a fabric bag was in the pipeline for each sling by way of packing it away neatly when not in use. After messing about one evening folding the slings Rebecca was looking at ways of sewing a neat pocket into the end of the sling so as to save fabric and manufacture of a bag adding to the cost of the sling. Totally by accident Rebecca folded a pocket into the end of the sling (as it is tubular, this was actually very simple to do) then folded up the sling and into the pocket creating a neat pillow!! It was a eureka moment at the house that evening! No longer needing a fabric bag meant the slings could be even more affordable! Collecting the first batches of dribble bibs from the manufacturer, photographing, editing and listing on the website were the next in line. Followed by collecting the Sa-Be carrier instruction booklets from the local printer.
Finally we were ready to launch the website!
Once the orders started coming in and the Sa-Be carriers and bibs got around Rebecca was contacted regularly by people all over the country wanting to see if they could sell Sa-Be items as they were constantly telling people about their slings and bibs. After seeking advice from Janet (Business Link) and a lot of driving around the country setting up Sa-Be agents business was looking good!
Keeping manufacturing local...
Following the birth of Rebecca's second baby in the summer of 2009, Rebecca was in a baby group at a local sure start centre when she was asked if she could go through to the breastfeeding cafe in another part of the centre as a lady was asking about the Sa-Be slings. Rebecca met Amanda for the first time and arranged to visit her at home that evening to provide a sling demonstration / purchase a sling. All the slings were currently being made in a clothing factory in Bradford and the staff were struggling with the length of the slings as they were used to handling small items of clothing. Amanda mentioned she was a manager of a manufacturing unit in Huddersfield where they produced pillows and duvets and asked if Rebecca would consider visiting them to see if it was something they could do. As they were very local and used to handling large items it seemed perfect! Unfortunatley Amanda was made redundant following her maternity leave, though interested in starting her own business. She started out making Sa-Be dribble bibs from home and looked into hiring a unit. Rebecca suggested there were units to let where the Sa-Be printers were situated, and once Amanda contacted Rebecca to let her know they had a unit it turned out to be to same one the printers were in! (Printers having just recently relocated!)
In August 2009 Sa-Be organised an event to promote babywearing. A hall was hired, flyers printed and stalls booked out. The event was called An introduction to babywearing and invited people to come along and try out a range of different slings and carriers from the local sling library, Sa-Be and a sling boutique in Hebden Bridge. Following the success of this event, another was organised for April 2010 called The Alternative baby show. This was a full day event with stalls such as local childrens clothes shop, veg box deliveries, natural baby skin care, reusable baby nappies, slings, the local breastfeeding support group, wooden toys, hand knitted toys, the sling boutique, the Huddersfield sling library and baby massage and baby signing classes. It was organised in association with a local baby magazine Mumbles.
The Sa-Be brand continued to grow, expanding into a few local indepentant gift shops and baby shops. The Sa-Be range expanded to include some lovely funky animal print blankets and playmats, 2 colour baby carriers. A second website was launched to sell the larger sized dribble bibs for older children and adults with special needs. The name Dignity Aid Bandanas (DABs) was chosen for them and flyers were designed and printed.
In September 2010 Rebecca and her family moved from Huddersfield to Elland, and in 2012 Rebecca and Andrew became full time childminders and had their 3rd baby! Clare took control of the despatch of the internet orders and converted her spare room into the Sa-Be office, living close to the manufacturing unit meant Clare was able to collect, pack and post the orders very quickly.
See the newspaper article here....
In 2013 a new website was discussed and a photoshoot held over 2 days in a local play gym. The face of Sa-Be competition was running alongside the shoot - 50 babies were photographed and over 1000 images were taken for the new website and marketing material.
At the end of 2013 the new website was launched and beautiful Elenor announced as the Face of Sa-Be. Elenor's winning image can be seen on the flyers, banner and on the website.
In 2015 Rebecca and Andrew found they were expecting twins! The boys arrived in October and have been seen on the facebook pages snuggled in their Sa-Be baby carriers and wearing Sa-Be dribble bibs! Amanda, the Sa-Be Manufacturer kindly took over all areas of Sa-Be packing and posting which meant Rebecca is actually enjoying some maternity leave this time a mother of 5!
The Sa-Be Mei Tai......
Sa-Be also make a different type of carrier known as a Mei Tai. A prototype Mei Tai was made up by Amanda for Rebecca back in 2010 and has been well used for the last 3 years before the decision was made to go ahead and make them for Sa-Be to sell. They can be used from when baby is around 6 months up for quick, comfortable secure back or front carries. They are made to order and have been safety tested to conform to BS EN 13209-2:2005. The instruction video and photoshoot are in the pipeline for the next month. Watch this space!