Happy Birthday, Tekhni. Today marks the 1 year anniversary of Tekhni Wovens Sling Studio. We thought it fitting to invite one of our favorite bloggers, Elizabeth Broadbent (Manic Pixie Dream Mama) to interview Alisa about how Tekhni came to be. We are glad to present it to you here and offer our sincerest thanks to Elizabeth! Congratulations, Tekhni and Alisa, on a fabulous first year!
I’ve known Alisa of Tekhni for what seems like ages. In 2010, I had been wearing for about three months, and I bought a kupfer cashmere indio that just wasn’t what I wanted: too thin and a tad short. Terrified, because even then selling struck terror in my heart, I listed it on thebabywearer.com. I’d never sold anything before and worried I would screw it up. A lady with the handle heytowdemarco bought it. She was super sweet. I saw her around on TBW for years (though I always wondered why she was saying hey to W. DeMarco).
Years later, the babywearing world had moved to Facebook, and Tekhni released its first wrap. One year later, Tekhni’s one of the most popular companies in the business, known for its edgy designs and super-sweet customer service. Inspired by Alisa’s background in art, and influenced by her Greek heritage, Tekhni uses innovative fabrics and patterns to do one thing: help mamas keep their babies close.
Elizabeth: So when did you get started in the babywearing world?
Alisa: I started wearing in 2008 when my oldest son Vince was born. I knew I wanted to babywear. I registered for some things like a pouch – a couple pouches – a k’tan, and a Moby. I found a babywearring meeting during babywearing week- October – and I got ambushed by all kinds of crunchy natural people like me who I didn’t know existed.
It was the first time I nursed in public without a cover. I met a whole bunch of people I still know today. I tried on a wrap and I thought “Oh, this. This is nice”. I went home and immediately bought a gypsy mama bali breeze. And then for Christmas bought myself a hopp light and a babyhawk and away I went.
EB: And now you run a wrap company. Wow. What made wearing so awesome for you?
Alisa: It made sense and it was convenient and I wish I would have worn sooner and more with Vince. I had postpartum depression and it wasn’t until I looked back that I realize that it helped me to wear. I wish someone would have told me that wearing would help more. I think everyone should know about babywearing even if for that reason only.
EB: I firmly believe wearing helped me with PPD as well, and continues to.
Alisa: I didn’t know I had PPD – the OB didn’t ask those questions. It wasn’t until later talking to friends who said “oh yeah, you had terrible postpartum”. It wasn’t normal to feel this awful anxiety. Like I couldn’t breathe and my heart is racing all the time around the clock. I was afriad of – fill in the blank. That he would cry or that he would wake up or that I wouldn’t nurse right.
EB: So what about with your next baby?
Alisa: I knew to wear Dominic from the start and I didn’t have those feelings. I got a checklist and I found out what I had, that was PPD. I thought it was just cryng. It’s not, it’s everything. Finding out more about babywearing and how it helps – it made me more confident and made my babies happier and made me happier. If I had worn more with Vince, I would have been better.
Babywearing shouldn’t be this hidden thing. I used to have this life and it changes… how do you go to grocery shop but your baby cries? NO one told me that like, that was a solution! I didn’t know anyone else who did it. I didn’t know what I was feeling was normal.
EB: So tell me about how Tekhni got started.
Alisa: I followed along on tbw for years and I learned a lot. And then I had a creative outlet as Color Dip Studios and I was dyeing wraps. And the industry is so secretive [about how to get Hard To Find wraps]. It was weird.
You can sit for days and talk about the weights of wraps, and I have owned stuff that has cost more than I’d like to admit, hundreds of wraps, and I can honestly say thousands has come through this house, and the end of the day – it’s fabric. Why are we so secretive about who gets what? Were missing the point.. The point is it should be affordable, accessible, and available.
EB: And that’s your passion with Tekhni.
Alisa: Right, you can still have fun in that and there are companies that do that – companies I watch and admire and still admire very much. That try to bring prices down more. Like Didy and Nati have everyday lines and try to make it more accessible. Everyone should wrap – or babywear. everyone should wear their babies. I think wrapping is best for me, and I know the learning curve is highest. I know that it offers mote comfort and adjustability. it’s the closest way for someone who is starting with a little baby.
EB: And so then Tekhni came along.
Alisa: I wanted to make my own brand that could encompass those things. And still have fun and still have that boutique flair with different colors and patterns and bold graphic designs. They all come from somewhere or have a meaning or inspiration, It’s supposed to be fun and to help people. Babywearing helps people and it should be fun. It should do both. You can just have a plain line but if it can also pique your interest with colors and styles thats fun too. It was a way to incorporate some of my art and design into it as well.
EB: Ooh, tell me about art. I always followed your stuff on ColorDip and loved your work.
Alisa: I was interested in art in general my whole life. I was a studio art major in college with a painting focus. I have lots of artwork, photos and paintings and prints. I’ve always had an eye or an interest in art. Coming out of school I painted and moved into graphic design becauses it felt like a natural progression.
EB: So I’m guessing you didn’t make a living as a working painter, because like, no one does ever.
Alisa: I was a graphic designer than moved into retail packahing design. You can go into stores and see some of my stuff – I used to do packing for a company that did electrical cords and serge protectors. If you go into Home Depot or Wal-Mart or Target I’ve done displays or packaging.
I did that for seven or eight years. And I had a career with benefits and all that and all those perks that come with being an adult. And every time I had a baby I had to go back it was harder and harder. Being a fulltime working mom outside the home with three children under five, that was my breaking point.
EB: I remember you talking about that being hard for you.
Alisa: That year with Gia. I was never going to do that again ever. I had, during my husbands tax season, I had three babies under the age of five, and I was working full time. I would cry in the driveway when I came home. Thank god for babywearing. We were just starting to think that there has to be another option. And I knew that when Vince went into kindergarten i wanted to be there when he got off the bus. So how could we make that happen?
EB: So you went looking for a way to stay home and do art, but still pay the bills.
Alisa: I was still doing CDS. After the kids went to bed I would be dyeing wraps. I had been doing some freelance design for companies here and overseas. I worked behind the scenes with a lot of stuff. Doing design doesn’t pay well, so some stuff I just got wraps for. And experience. Those two and a half years I consider a kind of way for me to learn, an internship. I just learned what I could, and I did love it. I loved doing the designs and working with the owners. They came to me and said can you do something for me like this and set it up to weave.
EB: And so Tekhni was born. Thanks so much for talking to me about this. We can’t wait to see what comes next!
About the Author:
A mama to three sons 4 and under, Elizabeth dropped out of academia to procreate and spend way too much time tie-dying. A certified educator with Babywearing International, she still misses teaching freshman English. Elizabeth attachment parents out of sheer laziness, and writes about social justice and crunchy parenting at Manic Pixie Dream Mama. Her work has appeared on the Huffington Post, xojane, Mamapedia and Scary Mommy. Find her on Facebook or Twitter @manicpixiemama.