By Lucy Berry Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Miriah Brink and her husband, Adam launched "Southern Swaddle" which produces baby blankets after Miriah read a few bad product reviews on the market. Unlike many companies that import fabric from outside the U.S., "Southern Swaddle" uses a breathable, moisture wicking material made domestically.
Alabama Media Group, Birmingham
Every first time mom-to-be worries about making the best decisions for her baby.
Should we choose a doctor or midwife? What kind of crib and car seat should we use? Is the swaddle blanket we received at the baby shower safe enough?
Miriah Brink and her husband, Adam, always wanted children, but when they learned they would be parents this fall, it came as a surprise. Miriah, who is pursuing a second degree in general business from the University of Alabama, is due Nov. 12 with a baby girl and the time cannot pass quickly enough.
The Shoals couple recently launched a company so they can spend more time with their daughter, but also to give back and create positive change within the community. Their focus? Handcrafted, Alabama-made swaddle blankets.
The inspiration behind Southern Swaddle came after Miriah read a few bad product reviews about blankets that were inconvenient or causing safety issues with little ones. Miriah, who also prefers to buy made in America products, said it was nearly impossible to find a manufacturer that fit the bill.
"I was discussing my concern with Adam when he suggested that we just try and sew our own," she told AL.com. "We decided that we could research swaddles and come up with a design that would best fit our needs. It started as something we wanted to make for us, but then we thought why keep it to ourselves?"
The Brinks spent a lot of time digging through swaddle reviews during the research and design process. Adam, a search engine consultant for Leapforce, said they were going to develop a smarter pouch swaddle with zippers and Velcro before deciding to keep it simple with a straightforward swaddle blanket.
Unlike many companies that import fabric from outside the U.S., Southern Swaddle uses a breathable, moisture wicking material made domestically.
"We consider it a better alternative to muslin," Adam said. "Muslin is very thin and flammable, and must be treated with fire retardant to be sold. Do you trust the overseas companies to seek out chemicals that are sustainable and safe for your baby? Neither did we."
Adam said his mother has sewn prototypes for Southern Swaddle from the start, but they plan to work with a woman in Mountain Brook to produce the blankets in the future. They also have plans to sell a pouch swaddle, but Adam said the process will take many more months of testing and research.
Miriah and Adam launched a Kickstarter campaign this week to raise $3,200 for Southern Swaddle. Funds collected through the crowdfunding effort will assist with the costs of fabric, hang tags, labels, sewing labor and promotional materials to be given out with each pledge.
"We chose to use Kickstarter because it will give us the freedom to create a brand unaffected by investor interest or bad debt," Adam said. "Investors can sometimes have a focus only on the profit, which can lead to cutting corners and using cheaper materials. There are too many businesses that have started out with a huge monthly loan payment and have failed because of it. We want to start out as lean as possible, so that success will follow our persistence."
The couple's relationship dates back to high school when Miriah and Adam were "really good friends ... but never really dated or made things official." Their friendship grew even stronger and eventually became a romance when they moved to Tuscaloosa in 2011 to attend Alabama. After four years of dating, the Brinks finally said, "I do."
The young entrepreneurs are optimistic about the future of Southern Swaddle, which they hope to expand to include a full bedding line, array of infant sleeping products and showroom to display their products. Adam said they will have a small research facility that will innovate solutions to consumer needs through big data and focus groups.
They also hope to work with moms and doctors across the South to lower the infant mortality rate, which is high in Alabama.
"In five years, I see Southern Swaddle as a household name when it comes to swaddles and baby bedding products," Miriah said.
"We are working really hard to get a quality product out that we really think parents will love and I think that will take us far in the market."