Pacific Northwest weather often doesn’t stop the diehard outdoor fanatics who love to bike, walk, hike, or be outside all times of the year. That means though being prepared for rain, wind, and chilly temperatures for you and baby.
Enter Jess Desbrow, owner of Together Gear and designer of the Mama Baby Poncho. She’s the mother to 4.5 year old son and 2 year old daughter and designed an all weather poncho that allows dad or mom to carry baby and provide protection from the weather for everyone.
Read more for the Dads Who Diaper interview with the Owner and creator of Together Gear.
What is the inspiration behind Together Gear?
The daily inadequate battle against the elements with baby inspired the creation of Together Gear. I used to instruct remote wilderness courses and know how great gear can make or break your trip. And here I was trying all sorts of wraps and throws to try and stay warm and dry together with my baby outside. After an exhaustive search for a bomb-proof, waterproof jacket made for two, I realized there was only one way to get it….to make it myself.
How does Together Gear stand out among a crowded outdoor gear/clothing space?
The Mama Baby Poncho (not really accurately named since the dads all love them too) is the only waterproof poncho designed for fit and function while baby wearing and beyond. There are many warm coverage options out there, and a few jackets designed for the elements for mothers, but this is unique as a seam-sealed, durable, packable jacket that the parent’s can share with each other and know they will stay dry in a deluge. The poncho also has a long life before and after baby. It is great for coverage during pregnancy when no other jacket can be zipped up, and there are so many uses after baby wearing. The design allows for hand coverage (either under a warm fleece lip or using elastic thumb loops) while pushing a stroller or riding a bike. This could be sold just as a biking poncho and have perfect function and following.
What development has gone into creating Together Gear?
I’m a chiropractor in Portland, Oregon and serve pregnancy, kids and young families. Between daily interactions with patients and friends, the need for me to pursue the product creation was clear, but the path was more murky. Like all great things, it started with, “so I have this cool idea…” conversations that each resulted in a list of “well I know a guy” folks to be in touch with. Hundreds of chats later, I had teamed up with a product design team in Portland to make about a dozen prototypes, which were then refined by a second group in Oregon, finally to be sent over to Vietnam for final production. I never wanted or expected to be working overseas, but learned this was the only way to make something as technical and strong as I envisioned and at an affordable price.
How are the ponchos unique in protecting parent and child?
The poncho design was intentional for the ability to share between parents of different sizes, and for the ease of covering most baby wearing systems without having to take one’s jacket on and off while trying to adjust or remove the carrier. This poncho can stand alone as an adult jacket, have the baby hood snapped into the front pocket to be able to cover both, or remove the little hood to be worn separately as a super sweet kid cape. When the baby is tiny, you can just zip them under completely, and as they grow, the child hood is a perfect way to allow them freedom to move and look around while still being dry and warm.
What has the response been from parents after seeing the Together Gear?
“I must have one of those!” is the unanimous first response. It has been awesome to see how much parents are loving these and using them in all sorts of ways. Here’s a fun quote: “my husband wears this every night around the neighborhood for the witching hour walk and praises it every time he returns with a sleeper, which is pretty much everytime since they are so darn cozy and happy in there!”. (Kerry W.)
Are they available for dads?
Of course! They are a one size fits most jacket, so both men and women on the larger spectrum may find it tight. We are soon to create a photo gallery just to show it on different shapes and sizes. It seems to work well for folks about 5’2 to 6’2, but overall girth changes the comfort anywhere in that height range. Dad’s love them on trail, and we hear huge praise for that late night walk around the neighborhood to have something that can just be thrown over the top of you both to put those babies right back to sleep.
What has been the biggest challenge working in the parenting/retail space?
I created this poncho to support my own active parenting lifestyle, then created the company to support all the other active parents out there. I still work hard in my wellness center to promote healthy families there, and the greatest struggle is definitely to find the time to keep spreading the good word about the poncho, while being a parent of young ones, too. Once people learn about the Mama Baby Poncho, it really sells itself, but since there is nothing else like it out there, it takes consistent effort to let the world know about it.
What products are you working on for the future?
Everything we are working on is to help parents keep being hard-core even with little ones in tow. There is a need for a waterproof convertible stroller / carseat / carrier cover. A mini-me version of the poncho is also on the list. And depending on feedback and demand, a windstopper fleece lining for the Mama Baby Poncho that can work alone or underneath has always been part of the vision.
This interview is part of our ongoing series with leaders from companies involved in parenting products or issues. No goods or services were exchanged. Who would you like to hear from? Leave a suggestion in the comments below.
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