London Sling Company was founded by Tahira Faye in 2015 in London, with its first release in early 2016. The company is a Contributing Sponsor for The Wrap Show 2017. In the following interview, Tahira shares more about London Sling Company.
How did London Sling Company come to be?
It felt like the natural next step. I already spent so much time on slings – learning about them, chatting about them, sharing pictures of them. For a while, it was pretty much all I wanted to talk about, and so my husband suggested starting my own babywearing company to actually make the slings I kept saying “someone should make.”
What drew you to the world of wraps initially?
My second child, Blake, always wanted to be close, every hour of the day. With an older child, it was difficult to keep him in my arm, so we soon bought a buckle carrier. I joined a few babywearing groups for advice, and I kept reading about all the different ways to carry your child. After a few months, I bought a ring sling, and then a long sling, and then it just carried on….
I did, however give up completely at one point as I found it so difficult. It was when Blake was almost one, and I decided wrapping wasn’t for me and that I would stick to Mei Tai (meh dai) carriers. It lasted a few months before I completely fell in love with a new sling being released. Once I tried it again, it was suddenly much easier.
What inspires you in your work?
London. The buildings, the energy, the streams of people, the arts. Holding each and every one of our slings, I can remember when and where I found inspiration for that particular one. During the school run in Knightsbridge, on my run in Barbican or having drinks on Southbank. They each hold a story of London.
Why do you think wraps are so important for parents and children?
Because of how they reduce stress for the baby and for the carer.
It makes life easier and it makes the baby feel safe and comforted. Being held closely is a basic need, and using slings makes it possible to meet the need while, at the same time, spending time with other family members, running errands or spending time on hobbies. Also, wearing babies and letting them sleep in the sling when they want takes away the tension of nap time, which is a big issue for many new parents. It lets you follow the baby and get to know his/her routines and patterns.
What is your favourite part about using woven wraps personally?
For us, it’s how Blake completely relaxes in the sling. He is constantly moving around otherwise, seldom still for more than a few minutes and always bouncing, running or climbing. He is not always able to calm himself down, even when he needs it. But in the sling, he gets a break. His body relaxes and he gets a chance to catch his breath. I love the feeling of the tensions disappearing and his body becoming heavier. I love the sound of his breathing just behind my ear. I love feeling his every little movement, as we’re “one” again.
How do you encourage new parents who are interested but hesitant to try wrapping?
I usually try to be honest. I tell them it’s freaking difficult at times, and they will most likely get sweaty and angry and want to throw the sling in the bin. I tell them it will be scary the first few times. I tell them I gave up on it completely at one point. And I tell them that it is the most amazing thing I have experienced. I tell them that, in the end, I love it so much that most of my life now revolves around it. I tell them that once they do get the hang of it, it will feel like the most natural thing in the world.
What’s most exciting or satisfying about working in this industry?
The combination of constantly being able to challenge myself and the reward that comes from people sharing their personal stories, in which my slings have a role, with me. I love the connection with customers, the direct contact and the community as a whole. Having that alongside a huge range of possibilities and challenges – I find the work extremely rewarding.
Where do you see London Sling Company in five years? Ten years?
I am very happy with what has happened in this one year since we first began talking about starting a business. We have made some mistakes and learned from them, and I do feel that we are where we want to be. I don’t want to grow much because I love being involved in each and every sling, doing large parts of the process myself. And I do want to be able to take as much time as is necessary to test, change and decide until I have the perfect sling, without any pressure to release within a certain time frame.
I do wish to reach more people. Our fan base is constantly growing with more and more people entering each draw. In five years, I believe we will have a much larger and wider customer base, and in 10 years, even more so.
What experience do you hope for London Sling Company customers? In other words, what do you hope to accomplish or inspire through your work?
I wish that they could feel like they can have it all when it comes to babywearing. Organic, ethical textiles and production, very high quality materials, elegant design and great comfort. I want my customers to be completely comfortable when wearing their children, while also knowing that every part of the process of making the sling has been safe and fair to everyone involved.
I want them to expect that from all products they use. I don’t want to stand out as a luxury brand demanding fair working conditions and eco materials…I want it to be the norm.
Is there anything new about London Sling Company or its products that you’d like to share?
Yes, we are working with recycled wool, silk and cotton for upcoming releases, spinning them to make amazingly supportive and soft yarn while reducing our environmental impact even further. These materials are some of the finest available, and to have a chance to reuse them and make art that we carry our children in feels very special.