Today on the BOND Blog we welcome Platinum Sponsor...
We are thrilled to announce their support of BOND, and loved this chance to get to know them a bit better. Keep reading to hear all about Sakura Bloom from their Founder, Lynne Banach.
Tell us about your company, who you are, and what do you do.
Parents have always carried their children: in their arms, on their shoulders, wrapped onto their body with a simple piece of cloth, in front packs or back packs, in slings slung over one shoulder or two. Parents around the world know the secrets of baby slings. They calm children. They provide babies with a safe environment for encountering the world. They help with baby’s emotional, physical, and social development. They allow you to get work done. They make you both happy.
Sakura Bloom slings infuse lush all-natural textiles with a minimalist, modern design. Combining function with fashion, Sakura Bloom slings enable you to parent in your own way, while allowing your child to be an active part of the world around him. We work out of a seaside design studio in Leucadia, CA, which is where our team of 5 maintains a home base (it’s only 145 square feet), and all of our slings are handcrafted in and shipped from our workshop in coastal Massachusetts, where we originated. We source only the highest quality fibers for our textiles, and stand behind our belief in the empowerment of our customer, considering the needs and desires of our customers, community, and retailers at every step. We are active members within the babywearing industry, passionate about infant/caregiver connection, and dedicated to remaining at the forefront of education and appropriate use.
Tell us a bit about what inspired you to start your business.
My vision for Sakura Bloom really stemmed from my own personal experience of motherhood… and it was somewhat accidental! When my daughter Teja was born in 2005, we were living in Massachusetts. At the time, it was next to impossible to find unique baby carriers in local stores. Big box stores were the only option for most people, and they offered pretty much one style of carrier and definitely nothing made locally. I didn’t shop in big box stores for myself and I certainly didn’t want to start with my baby, so when I was pregnant, I would drive over an hour from our house in Massachusetts to the cutest little boutique in Connecticut that sold cloth diapers just to see the different colors and be able to talk with someone about what we would need or want.
Teja was a newborn when I made my first couple of slings - one for me and a second one for my sister, Carole, an anthropology professor at CU in Boulder, Colorado. At the time, babywearing wasn’t a household term, so I was excited when a local boutique owner inquired about her gorgeous silk sling (it was the original Sakura Stripe Artisan) and asked if I would make some for her shop. I knew I wanted for people to have that same experience that I had for cloth diapers with their slings… to be able to feel the textiles, try the sling on, shop locally, and of course find community. So I said yes and made it my mission to try to bring babywearing to the boutiques dotting our downtowns. That boutique I loved while pregnant would become one of our very first retailers, and today we have over 250 small, local independent retailers (mostly women-owned) around the world helping new parents get comfy in their Sakura Blooms.
What brings you the most joy in your business?
There are so many things that bring me joy about Sakura Bloom! Of course I love our slings and watching them come to life: the way they enable people to parent successfully with their babies along for the ride, experiencing it all, is incredibly gratifying. From a design perspective, I’ve always appreciated minimalist, modern design and I think that comes through in our overall style here at Sakura Bloom; simple, clean lines coupled with heirloom quality textiles. One of my favorite things is forecasting trends in color and style and translating those findings into offerings that will appeal to our customers’ individual tastes and interests.
Supporting local economies and keeping maker artistry alive invigorates me, too. Creating a handmade item resonates with me already, so adding the additional element of collaborating with an artist to imbue these added layers and special design elements to our handcrafted slings, studio space, and events is incredibly special. From hand dyed silks of Brooklyn textile artist Shabd Simon Alexander to the live-edge custom wood desks and signs handcrafted for us by Leucadia local and friend Neiko Pagaduan of Timber Library, to partnering with like-minded, independent boutiques, it brings me immense satisfaction to know that we are able to design beautiful things, provide personalized service, and ultimately play a role in keeping our downtowns alive.
The thing that probably brings me the most joy, though, is building community and creating a platform for parents to have their voices be heard. From our 2009 Triathlon, to the 2011 Styleathon, to the 2011-2015 Sling Diaries, to one of our latest fun projects, Behind the Slings, we work hard to normalize modern parenting - all of it - breastfeeding/bottle feeding, cosleeping, working mothers, alternative families, diversity, adoption - we offer empowerment and a safe haven in which everyone has a voice and that voice speaks for beauty in all of its forms.
What is important to you about the BOND Conference?
BOND speaks to us in so many ways because the tenets that it stands for mirror our own here at Sakura Bloom – including continuing to support the conversation surrounding infant, child and family development and bonding. We believe that we truly are First Responders in that we engage with and support new parents through pregnancy, childbirth, and the first years as a family. At the end of the day, being a part of the conversation and working as a team to support families and community truly speaks to all that we believe in.
Yes, we are a sling company… but first, we were parents. Combining those capacities, we could not be more excited to be a piece of the conversation that is developing surrounding the prenatal and early postnatal period. Each of the voices in this conversation brings a breadth of experience, research, and knowledge – and BOND is a tremendous opportunity to bring it all together: research on infant/early child development, attachment, sociology, public health, education, the experience of medical professionals, pediatric support professionals, educators, volunteer, and manufacturers, and of course, our collective minds and skills as a service community working to strengthen human bonding and family health.