Therefore Erika Hoffmann went and visited local weaving mills. In those days there were plenty of weavers, spinners, dyers and clothing manufacturers in the Swabian Alb.
Nowadays there are only a very few textile-related companies in the area. Local production has long since been relocated to Asia, which was something that Erika wanted to avoid at all costs – but that’s another story.
A woman, wife and mother of four children trying to found a baby wrap company at the beginning of the 1970s with just 50 DM in disposable income was surely doomed to fail.
To this day, we do not know how she managed to convince a weaving mill of her seemingly absurd idea and then persuade her bank to lend her the necessary capital of 10,000 DM. What we do know is that it wasn’t easy.
The weaving mill wanted to produce more wraps than Erika wanted in order to make it worth it for them and so she began to think seriously about the idea of turning the venture into a business.
The first wraps that Erika had made featured a simple striped pattern and tassels that were initially sewn on or woven in. She named them after her four children Tom, Anna, Lisa and Tina.
Shortly afterwards she designed the ‘Prima’ pattern that today remains a classic amongst DIDYMOS baby wraps and has since been produced in many colours and material combinations.
As if finding a weaving mill hadn’t been difficult enough, Erika now had to carry out lots of difficult pioneering work. ‘The best place for a baby is a pram or a crib, not in a wrap against its mother’s body’, was the common opinion that Erika was confronted with in letters and later articles that now fill a multitude of folders in our archive.
However, she was so convinced of her idea that she didn’t give up even though the Herculean task, plus looking after the family often took her to her physical and mental limits. For years, Erika worked through the night every Wednesday on her one-woman business.
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.
In this period, she advertised her business and wrote to doctors, midwives and physiotherapists in order to obtain expert opinions.
One of these people was the Vienna-based Professor and paediatrician Dr. Hans Czermak, who was one of the first to speak out vehemently for a violence-free upbringing in his 1980 book Die gesunde Ohrfeige macht krank. Über die alltägliche Gewalt im Umgang mit Kindern (A little slap does great damage. Everyday violence when bringing up children).
He and Erika were great friends up until his death in 1989.
In the former GDR, the idea of baby wearing quickly caught on and Dr. Büschelberger froom Dresden, a great proponent of the movement, developed the so-called DYADE wrap in collaboration with VEB.
The DYADE sling can therefore justifiably be seen as the precursor to today’s baby slings. It already featured the typical folds and an adjustable fastening. The fact that a cord was used as the fastening instead of the practical rings could have been due to typical East German procurement difficulties.
The DYADE sling was manufactured by VEB Baby Chic from a linen weave, synthetic fabric.
This type of baby carrier has been popular in the USA for a long time, leading to the English term ‘ring sling’ being adopted into the German language.
In 1976, the Hoffmann family and the one-woman business DIDYMOS moved to Ludwigsburg north of Stuttgart due to Mr. Hoffmann’s job.
For a still inexperienced start-up, that meant basically starting again from scratch. In those days, there was no internet to allow one to be contactable from anywhere at any time, no matter where you physically were. This meant developing the business and advertising all over again.
In 1978, the first apprentice began working at DIDYMOS as a retail sales representative. Since then we’ve had many apprentices complete their training as office administrators, retailers and retails sales representatives – but back to the company history…
In this period, new tying methods were developed ‘around the kitchen table’. After the ‘hip carry’ came the ‘rucksack’ and the ‘kangaroo’ carry methods. It soon became clear that taller people were finding it difficult to tie the short wraps in sizes 1 (approx. 220 cm) and 2 (approx. 270 cm). So sizes 3 and 4 were produced.
Nowadays, this sizing method developed by Erika Hoffmann has become a standard that is used by many other baby carrier manufacturers up to size 8.
But that wasn’t the only standard that Erika set for baby wraps.
By extending the product range to include four sizes, it became increasingly difficult to weaves tassels into the ends of the wraps as it was too difficult to divide the woven products.
Something new was required. Erika, the daughter of a tailor, was quick to find a solution.
A tailor will cut curtains on a slant so they will fall better when gathered.
And that’s what we’ve done since then with DIDYMOS baby wraps.
The typical parallelogram shape was invented.