York Twp. woman creates, sells lightweight baby carriers
SARAH M. LIFSHIN Dispatch/Sunday News
It took an outing with her daughter-in-law and then newborn
granddaughter for Sharon Abendschoen, a 56-year-old grandmother, to
learn how heavy modern baby carriers had become.
"I went to carry the car seat carrier and I had
trouble carrying it," Abendschoen said. "It was a car seat carrier
and those things are heavy ... I wanted to find something else." But
when she couldn't find what she was looking for -- just a baby
carrier -- she decided to do something about it.
Abendschoen of York Township recently finished the
final touches on her See Shell Baby Carrier -- a new invention she
says decreases the strain on the mother and improves infant safety.
The carrier, which Abendschoen says has passed
several consumer safety tests, is shaped like a sea shell --
decorated with sea-life inspired padding, along with safety belts
covered with padding cut out as sea horses.
"This is a carrier that isn't a car seat," she
said, noting that the average car seat can become very heavy and
bulky. For a 10 lb. car seat carrier, a 7 lb. baby could have the
increasing its weight to nearly 20 lbs.
But as infants grow and the carrier is still used,
the combined weight will increase and add to a mother's physical
stress of carrying the child, Abendschoen said.
Abendschoen said it wasn't hard to come up with
the concept since she used similar products when she was a young
mother for her two sons.
Abendschoen, who also owns a local maintenance
supply company, said that when her sons were born decades-ago,
mothers used simple baby carriers rather than the modern transports
that release from car seats.
"I hated those things," said the businesswoman who
last summer introduced the carrier to the baby supply market. "I
looked for a couple of weeks to see if one was on the market ... but
when there wasn't, I sketched one."
Abendschoen said she pictured the proposed
"lightweight" carrier as a sea shell -- a place where the baby could
be "nestled in a shell shaped chair." Beginning in 1999, she began
the process by applying and receiving the patent.
Then came the hard part.
During the past few years, Abendschoen spent most
of her time searching for manufacturers for all components of the
baby carrier -- from its plastic body to all the metal pieces used.
Now, with the baby carriers being completely
assembled at a manufacturing facility in Wisconsin, Abendschoen --
who is looking for investors and wholesalers -- is using her
prototype to push sales.
She also sells the carriers on her Web site and
has sent some samples for review to a few department stores. Still,
the carriers -- which retail for $98 -- are not yet in stores. But
despite the slow start, she does regret her decision to start a
second business. "It's taking forever ... but I love it."
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