Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hawaii Mother and Creator of ERGO Baby Carrier Sells Company for $91 Million

By Danelle Frisbie

Karin Frost demonstrates the ERGO Baby Carrier she developed in 2002. She's still able to use it with her son, Keala Kaj, age 5.

The ERGO Baby Carrier is widely popular among peaceful parenting moms and dads. In fact, it is one of the most commonly seen babywearing devices in our "Real Men Wear Babies" album, along with the Moby Wrap and various woven wraps, and the ERGO is especially loved by those with older/heavier/taller babies who need adequate hip support. We have one at our house, and enjoy it despite the fact that our 40lb two year old refuses to be worn on our backs. ERGO can be used as a front and side/hip carry as well.

ERGO sells its carriers and products through 700 retail stores and websites in about 20 countries. There is the original ERGO (which comes in an assortment of wonderful colors), the Sport ERGO, the Performance ERGO, and the organic ERGO. The carriers range in price from $105 to $148.

ERGO wasn't always a multi million dollar baby carrier. In fact, it was created in Maui just 8 years ago by a new mother, Karin Frost. Living out of her van and taking showers at the beach, Frost probably did not expect to one day have a creation worth so much. Her story reminds me a bit of Hygia Halfmoon's experiences when, leaving an unhealthy relationship, Halfmoon became a newly single mom and decided she wasn't going to give up mothering her children. She got creative and started making making her Cozy Cradle Babysling to support herself and her children. Each of these mothers has a unique tale of primal mothering in a modern world.

Frost, who is now 49, constructed her carrier in 2002, also as a new mom. The carrier quickly caught on with friends, and in 2003 she founded "ERGO Baby" to make the back-pack style carrier for others. She writes about when her son was just a few days old, "My strong desire to pick up [my son] and hold him close to my heart dominated any other need. My mothering instinct to keep him safe, secure and content has always been my driving force, and when I started ERGObaby, my intention was to create a product line that would promote and enhance the ability of parents to safely and comfortably keep their babies close to them as often as possible."

In 2007 Parenting Magazine named the ERGO Baby Carrier one of its Top 20 products in the past 20 years. This catapulted ERGO to the top of the line and Frost set up manufacturing in China. (Halfmoon still custom makes and distributes her Cozy Cradle Babysling to mothers' specific measurements, has a heart for providing slings to teen moms, and is celebrating 25 years of sling making this month).

Frost, in a slightly different turn of events, has agreed to sell 84% of the Pukalani-based company she started to a Connecticut firm that invests in mid-size businesses with attractive growth prospects. The pricetag? $91 million. Not bad for an 8 year business that Frost started from her home as a mom striving to make ends meet.

Compass Diversified Holdings publicly announced that it is paying Frost a combination of cash, Compass stock and assumption of personal debt totaling $91 million. The shares of Compass stock are worth $6.9 million. The cash and debt figures were not disclosed.

Frost notes that, "Eight years later, my research into the science behind babywearing has affirmed my mothering instincts. I know, beyond a doubt, that bonding with and nurturing our babies from infancy with the help of babywearing is absolutely the best way."

And so it is.


4 comments:

  1. What a motivating story. Made me tear up. So happy for Karen F :)

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  2. Congrats to Karin! She deserves this! The ERGO is a wonderful product that is backed by research and intelligent marketing decisions.

    The investing company made a wise choice - ERGO is a highly-recognized brand among parents all throughout the U.S. (and momentum is still growing...).

    stephanie@metropolitanmama.net

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  3. I have fallen back in love with my ERGO with baby number 2, he likes it, I love it and my toddler has me (and his brother) safely running around the park with him!

    Such a great story, Congratulations Karen!!

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  4. I orig purchased Ergo b/c a friend of mine adopted a 30-lb little boy fr Russia, and could wear him all day long at our homeschooling co-op w/out complaints! Now, I have happily worn two babies in the Ergo (I got my "life" back after my one-year-old took up baby-wearing) and now I'm trying to 'train-in' baby #3!

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