Maui Business

ERGObaby Carrier Born on Maui, Creator to Speak

January 23, 2013, 7:19 AM HST
* Updated January 23, 12:02 PM
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Karin Frost, founder and chief design officer of ERGObaby Carrier Inc.

By Wendy Osher

Karin Frost, the founder and chief design officer of ERGObaby Carrier Inc., will appear as the featured speaker in the upcoming edition of Maui Economic Development Board’s ongoing innovation series.

While living on Maui, Frost was designing resort wear, until she became pregnant and designed the innovative ERGObaby carrier, a business that grew into a $30 million a year enterprise when she sold it two years ago.

The concept was grown out of her study and observations of two tribes in the Amazon and an interest in “attachment parenting.”

The conversation with Frost will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 6, at the ‘Iao Theater in Wailuku. It is free and open to the public, but reservations are advised by calling Cari at 875-2336.

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The conversational format includes an exchange of ideas and an audience question and answer session.

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Frost earned her bachelor or arts degree in French and Danish and a master’s degree in design from the University of Minnesota. Over a 15 year period, she brought a half dozen lines of clothing to market, and eventually moved to Maui to design resort wear.

Several years later she became pregnant, and used her design background to create the ERGObaby carrier. The creation was based in ergonomic and psychological design aimed at benefiting both the parent and baby.

The first 50 carriers were hand-sewn by Frost; but when demand exceeded production abilities, Frost turned to a family friend for help. Jeff Henderson, owner of Hot Sails Maui, helped Frost find a manufacturer in China to mass produce the product.

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Since then, Parenting magazine’s 20th anniversary issue named the ERGObaby carrier as one of the top 20 products in the last 20 years.

In 2010, Frost sold the company to Compass Management Group, but she continues to serve as the company’s chief design officer, and is a member of the board.  The company grew into an international business with a total of 40 employees, 20 in the United States and 20 in Europe.

MEDB’s innovation series kicked off in 2012 as part of its 30th anniversary celebration. Noted speakers that have already been featured include former NASA Astronaut Leroy Chiao and University of Hawai‘i President M.R.C. Greenwood. Video game designer, entrepreneur and environmental philanthropist Henk Rogers is also scheduled to participate later this year.

The Maui Economic Development Board is a not-for-profit corporation created in 1982 to diversify Maui County’s economy. MEDB and its partners join to promote innovation, jobs and opportunity for residents, educate and train residents for new career pathways, and work to address community’s challenges.

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