Buying Locally: What Can Baby Slings Teach Us About Regional Sourcing Motivations?

Late last year, our third child was born. My friend, David Brown of Oxygen Finance was so kind to send us as an absolutely gorgeous baby sling from his better half's virtual storefront. David's wife, Samantha Glass, is the founder and owner of The Little Sling Company, which sells Lovey Baby Slings. With the sling, I was struck by the quality of the construction relative to all the mass-produced kiddie stuff we have around the house. I was also curious about where the exceptional fabric came from, and when I reached out to David, he told me that Samantha sourced everything locally. This prompted further questioning about why her company sources locally rather than China. I thought the resulting conversation would be useful to share with Spend Matters readers, as there is an important lesson here around the future of baby-related products. We've reached a time where individuals will not just pay a premium for greater functionality or aesthetics of an item, but also its country of origin.

Samantha told Spend Matters, "When we decided we were going to produce our own range of cashmere baby slings under the brand name Lovey, we knew we wanted them to be special. It was important to our core philosophy that our cashmere baby slings be produced locally using only the finest cashmere from Scotland. Of course, we could source a cheaper and inferior version of a cashmere baby sling in China, but how would that help our British economy? How would that help our Scottish brothers? How would that make our baby slings special? How would that help us on our carbon footprint and this year's hot topic of CO2 emissions? How would that allow us to teach our children that we should be sourcing sustainably, buying locally if we start by wrapping them up in something that has been produced and manufactured a million miles away?"

She adds that "Knowing that our product is 100% designed, produced and manufactured right here in Scotland and then hand-finished in London means that we are single handedly supporting the Scottish manufacturing industry, our economy, local jobs, British families, and doing our part to create a sustainable, locally-produced baby product. Being British has given us the opportunity to 'go local' and to source our cashmere from the world's finest cashmere producer and arguably Scotland's most prestigious cashmere manufacturer, so why wouldn't we? Understandably, local manufacturing can be more costly than overseas, but knowing that we are producing a high-end product, we are not looking for a cheaper alternative. We are damaging and depleting our natural resources with our throw away culture of cheap, poorly made, inferior products and we do not want our Lovey baby slings to be a part of this culture."

Further, her firm's "cashmere baby slings are not meant to be mass-produced and are not priced for the mass market; luxury cashmere produced in Scotland is an expensive product and our cashmere Lovey baby slings reflect this. Buying something as special as a baby sling that your newborn and embracing the parent/child bond through the intimate art of babywearing is an emotive purchase and we understand this. Being a small independent company run by a mother of two, we are able to offer unique one-off designs in our Scottish cashmere Lovey baby slings for parents who want to wrap their baby up in nothing but the softest, finest cashmere locally produced anywhere in the world; knowing that they are purchasing a product, manufactured with a conscience from a tiny company that cares to make a difference in a big world."

I suspect we'll see more and more organizations with a similar philosophy in the future, and perhaps even some product lines within larger consumer and retail organizations that showcase regionally sourced merchandise, including local base materials. This trend started with food and will no doubt grow to encompass other areas as well. And it's a great dovetail with the fact that the global price (i.e., China price) for so many CPG and manufactured products continues to rise.

Jason Busch

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