What does Steve Jobs have to do with babywearing?
News has spread very fast that Steve Jobs, the founder and until recently CEO of Apple, died from cancer last night. I found myself surprised at the gut reaction of sadness about his death, since I of course never met him. But I am truly a fan of Apple products, I appreciate the thoughtful and beautiful design, and am inspired by Jobs' incredible creativity. In reading the many eulogies for Jobs I've read a lot of memorable quotes from articles and interviews throughout the years. He said in 2003 that "[design] is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." This has been an important element that drives the way I want to design products. I never want to make things just because they look good; I want each design element to have a functional purpose behind it, and I want each functional element to be beautiful as well. It's much easier to do one or the other, but much more satisfying to marry the two. "Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” That's a tall order, but definitely a goal worth striving for!
Another quote that I read resonates so much for me as a company founder. "I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. It is so hard. You put so much of your life into this thing. There are such rough moments in time that I think most people give up. I don't blame them. It's really tough and it consumes your life. If you've got a family and you're in the early days of a company, I can't imagine how one could do it. I'm sure it's been done but its rough. It's pretty much an 18-hour day job, seven days a week for awhile. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you're not going to survive." Anybody who is an entrepreneur probably cannot adequately express how true to them this is. I had NO idea how hard starting your own company was when I blithely jumped in. It's so hard and you want to give up so many times. It's an emotional roller coaster and I'm convinced, as was Jobs, that you have to be exceptionally stubborn to succeed. So much of it seems to be an ability to ride out the awful lows and hang on. The only way that is even possible is if you believe so much in what you are doing and the worth that it brings to the world that you can't imagine *not* doing it.
The last quote from Jobs that really resonated with me as I read it was "because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.” A lot of the reason I started this business was because I thought these traditional baby carriers that I found and learned how to use were so awesome and hardly anyone was using them. Everybody needed to know about these! But how crazy is it to think that because you found something you think is awesome and necessary and beneficial that if you just start shouting about it enough to enough people that you will be able to change a whole culture, an entire industry? I certainly don't feel that I've had this kind of impact on my own, or through my little company, but I do feel proud to be part of an ever-growing group of people and companies who feel the same way that I do about babywearing. I can see that we are actually effecting cultural and commercial change. Since I first made and wore a mei tai carrier in 2004, the world of babywearing in the United States and other Western countries, and even now developing countries, is so different than it was. Looking back, it is amazing what we've accomplished together--as company founders, committed moms and dads participating in individual babywearing groups, some of whom are now becoming part of the growing Babywearing International nonprofit group; as the owners of companies both making and selling baby carriers and educators helping parents learn this invaluable skill, many of whom have joined me in becoming a part of the trade group we formed in 2010, the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance (BCIA), of which I am a founding member and current board member.
Steve Jobs obviously had nothing to do with the babywearing industry, or just the practice of babywearing, specifically. But the type of creativity, passion, and drive he displayed are qualities that I want to emulate as I strive to create innovative, beautiful and imminently indispensable products that enrich the lives of parents and babies all over the world.
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