Long before trendy Brad and Angelina were sporting sling-style baby carriers, Shelly Aldrich of Baby Bundlers knew for herself that it wasn’t “about style or glitz. This is about being close to your baby.” And she’s got 20 years of perseverance that exhibit that attitude exactly.
Shelly remembers taking in the sight of a young mother whom had entered into her work. This woman, carrying her baby close to her breast in a snuggly, was a vision of the bond shared between a mother and her child. The two were separated by nothing more than fabric. That bond, that closeness; that is what Shelly craved for her and her son. “I wanted to be that kind of mom. I wanted my baby to be that close. ” Then and there, Shelly made a mental note to ask her mother for that exact carrier as a baby shower gift.
Just as soon as her mother bought her that snuggly Shelly wore it and found both her neck and back engulfed in pain. She knew that there must be a way to provide injury-free closeness with one’s child. After all, women had been doing this for thousands of years! Persistent as ever, Shelly set out to try every carrier that she could get her hands on – all with the same results. Then at a Le Leche League get together, Shelly was talking with a few friends about her qualms concerning what was available on the market. One of the women, hearing Shelly’s need, sewed her a wrap – Baby Bundlers had found its’ beginning.
Three women, Shelly included, all put up $5 each towards the start up of Baby Bundlers. Fairly quickly, though, the other two women dropped from the Baby Bundler radar. Being the sole owner of a start-up company and with her second child on the way, most woman would have folded. But not Shelly. Shelly did quite the opposite. “I became a walking promotion!” Her intense desire to share the Bundler with other moms in order that they too could experience such tremendous closeness with their child did not die out. And her passion was contagious. On word of mouth alone, Baby Bundlers started to take off.
Women would stop her on the street and ask her where they could get one. Soon they were telling their friends and they told theirs. Shelly began selling Bundlers to doulas, hospitals, midwives, distributors, massage therapists, and stores all over the Portland area were carrying the Baby Bundler. “Women were teaching me how to use it! There are so many ways to wrap it. Can you believe it? They were showing me just how versatile the Baby Bundler is.”
Special needs children were eating upright for the first time. Adopted children were bonding to their new mommas. Babies were being protected from the elements without feeling exposed to the world. Moms were able to continue doing the things that they loved while still being close to their babies. It was a win-win product and Shelly knew it. “Twenty years later, I have a lot of the same steady customers because they love this product and they love what it does.”
Baby Bundlers continued growing at a steady rate until eleven and a half years ago when Shelly lost her husband. It was then that her priorities took a major turn. In order to meet their financial needs, Shelly was forced back out into the workforce. “I don’t look back and say to myself that I missed out. The Bundler missed out. But my boys didn’t miss out. I gave up something that I dreamed about but they needed that. I gave up something for myself. But it wasn’t that big of a deal. The choice was so easy.”
Not to say that Shelly’s path has been without trials. “It’s been a challenge for me to be a single mom raising kids. They need me.” Day after day she works from her home office, eats, dinner, takes a walk, and then wakes up to do it all over again. And yet this amazing woman wouldn’t change a thing. Dripping with a mother’s endearment, Shelly will boast to anyone who will listen about either of her sons and their accomplishments. She’s very sure that their success is due in part to the closeness that they shared with her as infants.
One thing is for sure, a mother like Shelly would sacrifice anything for her children; including style and glitz.
Shelly and the Baby Bundler have had quite a life together. Through good times and bad, she’s always had faith in the bonding that it provides. To Shelly the Bundlers are about the people who wear them. “Every Bundler that goes out, I care about those women. I care about those babies.” Baby Bundlers are more than just the latest fashion trend. To Shelly, they’re about sharing love and life and about giving. That’s what life is truly about to her.
“I wish everyone in the world had a Baby Bundler. If I had more resources, my biggest goal would be to get one to every woman in a women’s shelter. This is what I would love to see that happen. But it turns out that I’m just a philanthropist with no money.”