My interview with Tacoma, Washington locals and baby carrier manufacturers John and Anna Jo of Kangaroo Karry [Image of a dark pink stretchy wrap in use, with the tag of the wrap displayed. Text around the tag reads quote, Baby carrier manufacturer interview with Kangaroo Karry by Amy Wraps Babies, end quote.]
Finding a new babywearing company is so fun for me. I love figuring out the motivation of the people behind the brand - what drives them to create a product that is so essential for so many caregiving journeys?
Kangaroo Karry is a new manufacturer that has sprouted from Tacoma, Washington. I met the owners, husband and wife team John and AnnaJo, at a recent baby expo and I was really intrigued by their products. They seemed to be filling a niche in the local community that I didn’t know existed. Here’s the Q&A of a virtual chat we had this week...
Interview with baby carrier manufacturer Kangaroo Karry [Image taken over a hikers shoulder as he wears a baby on his back and is followed by his family on a wooded trail.]
A: Hi John and AnnaJo! Thanks for “chatting” with me about Kangaroo Karry! So first and foremost - what brought you both to babywearing?
John: Hi Amy, thanks for having us! Like many residents of the Pacific Northwest, we enjoy hiking, camping, biking, fishing, crabbing, clamming... outdoorsy type stuff. We noticed friends giving up their hobbies after having kids. But not all. We are believers that you can still live your life, and do your hobbies, but yes - probably might need to modify accordingly and progress as the kids do. Clamming and crabbing are great activities to do with kids - they love to pull ropes and dig holes! Babywearing has made it possible for us. Our kids are learning to love the same activities we do - which motivates us to get back out there. WIth our first baby, AnnaJo loved her Moby, and I favored the Ergo Sport. For any 'big outing' we geared up with the backpack carriers.
Amy: Why did you decide to make the Joey Wrap?
AnnaJo: I really loved the Moby wrap… and yoga pants, so I never wore pants with pockets. I'd tuck my phone, the bink, and whatever else I had with me into a fold of the wrap. These would all hit the floor when I unwrapped. John noticed that other Moms did the same and thought they should put a pocket on the wrap. We searched and didn’t find other wraps with pockets on the market. Somebody said that we should make one with a pocket. Light bulb.
John: I made a sample and bounced the idea off of our friend groups. Response was great. And so, the Joey Wrap was born. I made a few myself, approached it like a wood project - with a template, some jigs and a dedicated work-space. Pretty simple with serger sewing machine. Getting the pocket straight was tricky. At the same time, we were reaching out to our business networks, seeing about manufacturing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Interview with baby carrier manufacturer Kangaroo Karry [Image of a man in the stands of a packed soccer stadium, wearing his baby on his chest in a black carrier.]
Amy: You have a second product - The Little Hopper. Tell me about how that came to be.
John: I could not use the hiking carriers in the stadium for [Seattle] Sounders matches, and our buckle carrier just wasn’t enough support for the hours of walking and standing. We were season ticket holders, and attending games is something we did not want to give up. It didn't dawn on us then, that there was a lack in the baby carrier market for a front carrier that offers the same load distribution that the backpack carriers provide. Also, us inflexible Dads tend not to be able to easily buckle and unbuckle these common carriers ourselves, which makes solo use difficult.
AnnaJo: We were introduced to the the hip seat concept, but the size didn’t work well for us at all. We modified the design (bigger seat, steeper angle, firmer belt attachment) and used it ourselves for 6 months before we took the leap to produce a batch order. Our kids our bigger than most, 95% growth chart - so we figured if we could comfortably carry our big kids with it, it would work for most as well.
AnnaJo: We did not realize initially how much ‘want’ there was in the market for the Little Hopper; we just wanted a better carrier for ourselves mostly. But truly, it allows caregivers of many sizes to carry bigger kids, longer and more comfortably. This is particularly the case for parents of special needs kids. We’ve also learned that many people with previous shoulder and/or back injuries feel more comfortable with less of the weight load carried at the shoulders. So, with the Little Hopper supporting the child's weight around the parents waist, it eliminates the pull and strain on the back and shoulders. It has been uplifting to learn that we developed a product that people not only ‘want’ but some actually ‘need’ - which is very rewarding.
Interview with baby carrier manufacturer Kangaroo Karry [Image of a woman standing on the shore of a body of water, holding her daughter on her hip with the help of a hip seat baby carrier.]
Amy: Uplifting, haha - I do love a good pun. Tell me more about yourselves professionally and where you want Kangaroo Karry to go?
AnnaJo: I’m currently a senior manager for a distribution center for a major company. I am a UW-Bothell business student graduate with an MBA from Walden.
John: She is the business brains of our operation. I work for a small manufacturer of building products, in short I can get things made, tested & certified and on the market. I went to WWU with a degree that would be considered ‘front-end web development’ in today’s terms. I also have 12 years of product testing and certification experience, including standard and specification development.
Interview with baby carrier manufacturer Kangaroo Karry [Image of a woman holding hands with a toddler while they're walking in water together; she's wearing a newborn baby in a green stretchy wrap on her chest.]
Amy: You must be extremely busy! How do you stay active within the babywearing community that you serve?
John: I am very motivated to encourage Dads to get out again and bring their kids. I am involved in a local 'Dads Club' and somewhat engaged in a few online versions of the same. But I think the bigger picture would be to engage more in hobby-focused industries - to encourage more Dads to gear up and involve their kids, and not simply hang up their hats.
AnnaJo: I have been more and more involved our local BWI groups, and I am looking forward to the Center for Babywearing Studies course coming to Seattle this fall. Our kids are constantly providing us inspiration for new products, and we love being around the community to learn more about what babywearing needs we can help to fill.
Amy: If there's one thing you'd like people to remember about Kangaroo Karry, what would it be?
John: Our focus is gear for active parents like us; products that are not simply marketing gimmicks, but fully functional & practical, for Moms and Dads.
Amy: Thank you so much for virtual chatting with me!
John and AnnaJo: Thank you for having us!
Check out Kangaroo Karry on their website, kangarookarry.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/kangarookarry, and on Instagram at instagram.com/kangarookarry.
Get 15% off your Joey Wrap or Little Hopper with code AMYWRAPS!
And don't forget to check out our both the tutorial from the stretchy wrap series that use Kangaroo Karry's Joey Wrap! Front Wrap Cross Carry tied at shoulder AND Hip Wrap Cross Carry.
Amy Wraps Babies is a Kangaroo Karry affiliate. This post was not sponsored by any company or group.