Interview with Sarah Reid from Wallypop

Sarah Reid gives us a look into her busy WAHM life.

Business Questions

Q. Please tell us a little about Wallypop and how you chose that name.
A. Wallypop: Products for Natural Parenting offers parents affordable yet high-quality WAHM-made baby slings and carriers, cloth diapers, diaper covers, and diapering accessories. We are trying to target budget-conscious one-income families - those families who want to buy quality goods so they'll last, but who don't have a whole lot of expendable income.

The name Wallypop comes from my son, whose name is Walter. We call him Wally. We are involved in a musical group through a local community theater, and the year Wally was born, one of the songs we were performing was "Lollypop." (You know, "Call my baby lollypop, tell ya why, her kiss is sweeter than an apple pie....") My husband, ever a fan of changing lyrics, sang "Wallypop" instead of "Lollypop." When I decided to officially start a business, I knew I wanted to avoid the "cutesy word for baby + cutesy name for rear end" theme that many diapering stores have, and I couldn't think of anything better than Wallypop.

Q. How long have you been in business?
A. We opened our doors officially in September 2004, but I was selling diapers and slings informally for about 3 months prior to that.

Q. What inspired you to get started?
A. Several things. I wanted to be at home with my kids, and my employer had already made it clear that they would not allow me to work from home. I knew I needed to do something to bring in income - not only to have some money, but to give myself something to do. I had been sewing Wally's diapers for a while and working on a pattern I really liked, and I had sewn us several types of slings and carriers. I've always enjoyed sewing, and with my newfound passion for cloth diapering and babywearing, it seemed like a perfect fit.

Q. I noticed you have a quite a variety of fabrics, what inspires you to pick your fabrics?
A. I pick things I like, mostly. Sometimes I will bring along a friend or my husband and let them pick out some fabric, as well, so I get someone else's tastes included.

Background Questions

Q. How do you find the time to run your business and raise your family? Do you have any efficiency tips for the rest of us - please?
A. I'm actually running three businesses, so it takes some doing. (My husband and I teach dance lessons together, and I'm also president of a nonprofit group called Swing Des Moines.) I have always been a multi-tasker, and I hate to waste time, so I'm usually doing several things at once.

The biggest things that work for me are:

1) Have a routine, but not a schedule. I wash the dishes before I do anything else in the morning. We don't have a dishwasher and washing every day is the only way I can stay on top of it. After dishes, I do ONE step of laundry. Toss dirty clothes in the washer, or hang wet clothes on the line, or fold. Never more than one step, though. Then breakfast. A routine is flexible, which is what makes it more desireable than a schedule.
2) Stop to play with, give attention to, or take care of children as needed. I've found that if I stop whatever I'm doing and read a book (or 5) to Wally the instant he walks over with a book, I can fill up his Mommy Reservoir and ultimately be more productive in the long run. If I try to put him off, he just gets focused on the fact that Mommy Is Ignoring Me. If I stop and tend to him, we're both happier in the long run.
3) Multi Task. Wally takes his naps on my lap (long story) so every nap time is computer time for me. When we go for a walk, I'll take along packages to mail.
4) Keep a to do list, and write down even small things. I enjoy crossing things off the list, and it doesn't matter if the item is "remodel the living room" or "take the mail downstairs." Having a list helps me stay focused, and helps me avoid the "I've got too much to do" panicky feeling.

Q. When looking for slings to buy, what helps you make the choice?
A. I look for quality and versatility. Does the fabric look sturdy, is the stitching even and straight, if there's any hardware, does it look sturdy, etc. When it comes to versatility, I try to think about things like how many positions will be comfortable, how easy it is to make minor adjustments for comfort, whether the sling will be just as useful for a toddler as it is for a newborn, and whether I can wear it year-round.

Q. Where do you live?
A. Des Moines IA

Q. Is babywearing common where you live?
A. That's hard to say. I tend to spot the babywearing moms (or dads), so it seems to me like they're everywhere. But I also know most of those babywearing moms on a first-name basis, so I suspect it may just be that we all tend to go to the same places! However, when Wally was a newborn, I got a lot of "oh what an unusual contraption you have there" types of comments and now, 15 months later, I hear a lot of "oh, there was a woman in here last week who had one of those." I wouldn't say that it's common, I guess, but at least the concept isn't alien to most people.

Q. Tell us a bit about your family!
A. I have a wonderful husband, Randy. He's just been a super dad, and has supported all of my crazy ideas about parenting. He's the biggest babywearing advocate I know. He is an insurance agent for a property/casualty company in Des Moines. Then there's Wally, who is 15 months as I write this. He's been a very easygoing baby, but he's definitely turning into a toddler! My mom and my inlaws all live close, too, which has its benefits and drawbacks.

Q. Do you have any hobbies? If so, what?
A. Honestly, sewing is my favorite hobby. I love to sew. When I'm not sewing for Wallypop, I'm sewing clothes for me, or curtains for the house, or duvet covers, etc. I also am a voracious reader (I accomplish this by planting books around the house - one in the car, one by the bed, one by the rocking chair). My husband and I love to dance (swing). I also like home improvement projects. (We live in a 90 year old Bungalow, so it's a good thing.) We have some great photos of me about 8 months pregnant installing new flooring in our family room and restoring our old dining room windows. Unfortunately, the home improvement projects are a little challenging right now!

Q. Tell us a little about your history before Wallypop.
A. I fell in love with my husband while I was in high school, then finished my bachelor's degree in three years so we could get married. I worked for a while as a writer and editor at a small publishing company outside of Des Moines, then I took a job doing technical writing for the finance department of a mid-size insurance company in Des Moines. That job really prepared me for owning my own business - I learned about reading and writing contracts, accounting, and just general business sense. I also made a lot of really good contacts, since I worked directly with the CFO, who was a great mentor and was very sad that I left with the baby. That was a hard job to leave, but I've never regretted it.

Q. Choose any day of the week and describe it in as little or as much detail as you want.
A. Let's take yesterday. Wally woke me up by nursing and smacking me in the face as hard as he could. Effective, but not my favorite way to wake up. Better than when he used to stick his finger up my nose, though. We nursed for a while, then daddy took Wally to potty (we started Elimination Communication at about 9 months and Wally usually goes in the potty now) while I slept a bit more. Wally and Daddy played for a little bit while I convinced myself to get out from the covers. I washed the dishes, kissed my husband good bye, then hung out the wet laundry while practicing my parenting skills trying to keep Wally from running down our hill into the street. Then we went inside and ate breakfast - fresh fruit salad.
We played a bit and then went for a walk before it got too hot, taking a package to the post office. After we returned, we went down to my office and "factory" and I did a bit of sewing while Wally played and ate raisins. He takes a nap around noon, so when he started getting sleepy, I nursed him to sleep, then took care of email and other computer work. After Wally woke up, I did a bit more sewing, stopping to read books about twice, and to help Wally get on his potty several times. We took a break mid-afternoon and went upstairs to get some lunch and play. When Wally started getting sleepy again around 4:30, we went back to the computer to nurse and nap, but for some reason, he just couldn't get to sleep, so we did a lot of squirming to get down, then wanting back up 2 minutes later.
My husband came home early evening, we considered dinner but decided to wait until later. Wally and my husband spent time together while I picked up the house and took care of other household needs, then I took Wally to the toddler LLL meeting while my husband taught a dance lesson to some private students of ours. I got back just as the students were leaving around 8:30. We all had dinner, I brought in the laundry from the line, put more dirty clothes in the washer, put away the dry clothes, did some more picking up, and sorted mail while my husband played with Wally. We all got into bed around 10.

Fun Questions

Q. What do you do to relax?
A. I'm sorry - what is this "relax" of which you speak? I'm not familiar with that concept... LOL. Actually, I find housework to be very relaxing and calming. I also like to read. And my favorite new thing is taking a shower. Not that that's new, but I've never used a shower as anything other than a means to an end, and now I find if I can get one shower a week that I take by myself, it's very relaxing. The water, and the steam, and I don't have to worry about what Wally's up to.

Q. What is your favorite activity to do with your kids?
A. Oh, gosh. It changes so often as he grows and changes. I really like going for walks with him. He enjoys it so much. We enjoy hiking and camping as a family, as well.

Q. What's your favorite month of the year, and why?
A. I like March. I hate winter. And we've had years when winter starts in October. March is usually reliably cold and snowy still, but at least it's not February, you know? March, though it often still feels like winter, carries a promise with it - next month is April and it's ALWAYS nice in April.

Q. Whats your favorite carrier and why?
A. My absolute favorite is my solarveil wrap. That sling will do anything. I find it to be the most versatile - I can wear him on the front or back in several different configurations, we can nurse in it, he loves to sleep in it, it holds him securely enough that I teach class with him in it without worrying about him being jerked around too much. It's so comfortable. And the solarveil fabric is lightweight and airy, which is great for summer and nice for winter, too.

Q. Are you secretly drooling over any carrier?
A. Hmmm....I'm a fabric-a-holic, and I love not only pretty fabrics, but fabrics that feel yummy, so I've been an admirer of the didymos and ellaroo wraps. They not only are very nice fabrics to look at, but they're wonderful to touch.

Q. What are your three favorite websites?
A. Let me page through my bookmarks... Gentle Christian Mothers (gentlechristianmothers.com), my local library website, and half.com I'm also a book-a-holic.

Q. Is there anyplace you'd like to visit? Any specific person you'd love to meet? Why?
A. I'd LOVE to thru-hike the Applachian Trail or go canoeing at the boundary waters. I think my prime years for accomplishing that are behind me, though.

Q. What is one important thing you think we could all do to make the world a better place?
A. Be polite. That is something that every person can do and it will make an immediate difference.

Q. Is there anything else the babywearing community should know about you?
A. I think the best way to promote babywearing is to ensure that everyone gets a sling they like and find comfortable. I make far more custom carriers than I ever imagined I would when I started out, but I want my customers to be happy and to get exactly what they want in a carrier.

© Kristina Deppe, August 2005. All rights reserved.