In 1971, I had four children, but only two arms. How was I going to be able to carry my newborn twins as much as I wanted? Inspired by a mothering book I had which depicted mothers from many different cultures carrying their babies, I felt a strong need for a carrier that would let me keep my babies close. Acquaintances sent me a shawl from Mexico and it seemed that my problem was solved.
However, the problem remained unsolved for many other mothers who, after reading my article about carrying babies in “Stern” magazine, were crying out for “a carrier like that”. But where could they get one? I had only one shawl which I needed for myself. In my efforts to help, I succeeded in importing some Rebozo shawls from Mexico and Guatemala. The import process had its challenges, especially in the days well before internet and e-mail, but I was seeing mothers that were happy to be carrying their babies which was my goal.
The idea soon came to look closer to home at the weaving industry around me. I wondered if it would be possible to manufacture something here in Germany. I would then be able to customise the weave, the length, the colours and patterns. I became so obsessed with the idea of more and more babies being ‘worn’ instead of laid down that I took a risk in contacting local weavers, even though I had no capital of my own. After being turned down many times, I finally found a local weaving mill that was prepared to manufacture baby wraps, as long as I would place a large initial order. There was no turning back at that point. I greatly admire the women around the world that kept the tradition of babywearing alive, and I wanted to celebrate the practice with everyone!
The imported shawl was beautiful and functional but proved to be less supportive when we began experimenting with various carrying methods. No tying instructions accompanied my original Rebozo shawl so many different tying attempts were made to suit various needs and circumstances. The front tying method I developed meant that the cotton fabric had to optimally feature a special weave with elasticity that would not be lost after many washes and regular tying. It is precisely this weave that characterises DIDYMOS wraps today.
In those days, back in 1971, ‘easy-care’ textiles were seen as revolutionary. One did notice it on individual items of clothing, but if you were to enter the store room of a weaving mill, your eyes would begin to water due to the caustic smell. I had to use all my powers of persuasion to obtain chemical-free fabric and it was expensive. Long before ‘environmentally friendly’ and ‘ecological’ become buzzwords for parents, we put the health and safety of babies first. As babies put everything into their mouths, the dyes used in the making of DIDYMOS wraps had to be 100% heavy metal-free.
The DIDYMOS Brand
Before long, a little company employing two (part-time) staff members and an apprentice had grown from the solution and the idea of babywearing. My twins, Lisa and Tina, were the catalyst behind the formation of the company and so it was named DIDYMOS – the ancient Greek word for twins. We continued to develop new carrying methods, adjusted the length of the wraps to suit these methods, and designed new patterns. The enthusiasm of parents for this impressive method of baby transportation continued to grow and with it also grew DIDYMOS.
This short video clip shows Erika Hoffmann when she explains how everything started. The following video is a montage of shoots done in November 2014. It was published in 2015.
So many personal experiences have been shared with us, from mothers, fathers, midwives and doctors, which have been extremely valuable to us from day one. Today, as our family business has grown from tiny beginnings, it is still important to keep this dialogue going. Many of our staff members have since carried their own babies or still have little ones in baby wraps. New parents call us more and more frequently with various questions regarding their babies. We have in turn been able to raise awareness about questions and concerns that come from new parents, in the hopes of providing others with some fundamental tools as they enter parenthood. It also helps that in the meantime the family company has grown to include more members of staff who have families of their own. Two of Erika Hoffmann’s daughters, who now have their own children, work within the company – the first generation that know what it means to carry and to be carried!
Over time, we have collected a vast amount of literature and reports from specialists on the topic of ‘babywearing’. We feel that it is our duty to make this information accessible to both new parents and specialists. Our aim is to provide all babies with their natural right to be carried.
Outsourcing even the smallest parts of the production process to distant countries was not an option for us. From our early days, and to this day, we had a mission to reliably guarantee the environmentally friendly manufacturing process of our products and to ensure fare wage for workers. We secure jobs in our own factory as well as in the regional, traditional craft industry, and we are very proud of this. We are responsible for training young people, particularly during uncertain economic times. Consistent quality assurance is only possible if the entire process chain can be monitored.
When it comes to children’s things that we do not manufacture ourselves, we continue to use our knowledge to find locally produced textiles and toys that also adhere to stringent ethical manufacturing processes.
Children are everything to DIDYMOS. Therefore, since 1972, our biggest desire has been to see as many babies as possible being carried by their parents, thus strengthening the parent-child bond. We are particularly delighted that more and more babies who have had difficult starts in life (e.g. premature, ill or disabled babies) are experiencing physical contact from their parents and increasingly also from nurses whilst they are in hospital. This makes many obstacles easier to overcome.
Wraps for these purposes have to be of utmost quality in regard to the purity of the weave and colours, and also the beauty of the pattern. Therefore, we do not make any compromises when it comes to the environmentally friendly manufacture of our products. This does not just apply to the final product, but to the entire processing chain, starting with the cultivation of cotton plants. It is very important that no child labour is used anywhere during the processing chain and that our high social and ecological standards are adhered to. Consequently, the entire production process takes place in Germany and neighbouring countries.
As a family company, it is also important to us that work and family obligations can be easily combined. For years now, we have been giving young mothers in our company the opportunity to work part-time, and if a mother wants to bring her child to work for a few hours, we accommodate this. The child is either carried in a wrap or placed in the company’s own crib. In this way, new mothers can go back to work early with no guilty conscience. We even received the Baden-Württemberg award as a family-friendly company for our commitment in this area.
We have been taking on at least one apprentice every year for decades now and it has become something of a tradition. Many of our apprentices remain in our team after their training and some are still with us.
We see it as our duty to make the world a better place for children. This does not just mean our own children, but all children world-wide. Therefore, we regularly support national and international children’s aid projects. Our deep desire is to see as many children as possible grow up without experiencing any sort of physical or mental trauma.
We hope that you will continue to support our work with your praise, criticism and suggestions and we look forward to talking with you. Let’s work together to make this world a safe place for our children.
and the DIDYMOS Team