We’ve all been there. Chasing our little ones at the park and all around town, wishing so badly we had a third arm so we could properly manage our baby, change them, and have access to only the absolute essentials...and not spend ten minutes digging through our too large (and often unattractive) diaper bag. Good news, your wish has been granted! Well, not a third arm... but the bag that directly addresses these challenges. Welcome Nell Shapiro, an SSP Community Parent, whose vision to create a trendy diaper bag fanny pack has come to life! Learn more about why she designed it, it’s key unique features, and why we might all want to consider getting in on her kickstarter campaign and purchase this “deliberately minimal diaper bag”!
SSP: What led you to developing this “deliberately minimal” diaper bag? Can you please tell us a little about your background?
I remember walking into Cafe Du Jour wearing my first son Theo in a baby carrier when he wasn't even 3 months old. At the time I was using the over-the-shoulder diaper bag that I had spent hours picking out and putting on my baby registry, and I just remember so vividly saying to myself, "I am never going to carry this bag again; I can't stand anything about it!" I just could never figure out where the straps should go, or how to minimize the bulk, and I could never easily find the one thing I was looking for. The digging and the weight, the bulk and the burden had to go. I daydreamed of a fanny pack turned diaper bag, and I poured over websites and baby shops for months but found nothing. I ended up settling instead for a steady rotation of tote bags, because my background was in education, not design. So while I had a clear dream of the diaper bag I wanted, I had no hard skills to bring it to life.
SSP: How did you come up with the design of the Kibou?
When I became pregnant with my second son, I knew I had to do things differently this time. I had moved into the world of the diaper backpack, which was a solid improvement, but so often it was way more space than I needed. It tempted my innate urge to overpack and left me digging, always.
The picture I'd had in my mind for the last two years of this minimal diaper bag that could be worn on your waist had never left me. So I went on Amazon, I bought different fanny packs, at least 5 different kinds of changing pads and multiple reusable wipes pouches. I started working out the design by cutting these bags apart and then sewing and pinning the pieces back together with safety pins. These mockups slowly made their way into sketches and drawn plans and eventually a couple of close friends connected me with a bag designer they knew in Harlem who could help me to begin creating a real prototype. That was over 2 years and 13 prototypes ago!
SSP: Other than fanny packs being all the rage and a very current fashion trend, what is it about Kibou that makes it such a desirable diaper bag for new parents? What challenges does it address?
Once I decided to make a real go of this bag idea, I asked one of my closest mom friends to partner with me as a creative director. Since day one, Stephanie and I have been committed to achieving the perfect balance between function and fashion. While the design of the bag has always been driven by its diaper bag purpose, the bag also had to be beautiful! Moms and Dads deserve to look good and feel good even when we're out with our Little Ones :)
But aesthetics aside, what makes Kibou different from other diaper bags, is that every single dimension, fit and function of the bag is driven by those essential items that parents report needing most when they're out of the house*. We made the bag just large enough to fit those items, and we left out the rest. For brand new parents, the truth is that it takes time to identify what those items are that you need most. You may feel most comfortable bringing extra swaddle blankets or burp cloths, outfits, even spare bottles. But once you're a few months into parenting, for typical trips out of the house we've found that most parents need the same few items each time they go out. Kibou means "Keep it By You", and the Deliberately Minimal design means that it fits comfortably on your waist and goes everywhere with you, effortlessly.
*Based on a 2018 survey of over 200 parents across the US and Europe that we conducted through Survey Monkey.
SSP: The idea that it’s hands-free and you’re no longer lugging a bag around is especially attractive to those of us in the city and constantly on the move. What would you say is the #1 most popular feature and biggest selling point that sets it apart from other diaper bags on the market?
People gush most about the built-in waterproof wipes pocket. The pocket is located along the back of the lid and is accessible while you're wearing it, at the pull of a zipper. There is something truly liberating (almost empowering!) about having a wipe at the ready as soon as your Little One has a gooey sneeze or puts their little hands right on the edge of a city garbage can. Plus, that same wipes compartment is completely accessible while you're using the changing pad that folds out of the back of the Kibou. So your Little One can rest their head on the bag, their body on the pad and you can pull wipes out of a waterproof zipper compartment all at the same time!
SSP: This also looks more unisex than most bags. Have you seen interest from dads as well?
100%! It's been awesome to hear from many dads who have told us they love fanny packs. And we absolutely wanted to release colorways that would appeal to diverse tastes. Vegan leather is not only incredibly durable and easily cleanable, but it's certainly gender-neutral.
SSP: I love how you show that it is not only a useful bag for that baby phase, but that it “grows with you” through toddler and bigger kid stages. Can you tell us more about how that works?
This was so important to me. I didn't just want to create a bag that would be relevant for a few months in a parent's life. I personally stopped carrying a changing pad well before my sons were out of diapers. So I spent a lot of time thinking about those items that we need most when we're out, and perhaps ones that we don't always have--for me anyway, that's always been bandaids and first aid supplies. It felt so obvious! Our super compact changing pad could be effortlessly swapped out for a first aid kit--what we have come to call our "Bou-Boo Bag."
Beyond this function, the main pocket is designed to fit diapers through size 6, but it can also fit a range of bottles and water bottles or snack choices. One mom even discovered it fits her own Kindle, headphones and socks for barre class!
SSP: How can we help support your kickstarter campaign and purchase Kibou bags?
Please visit our Kickstarter page to preorder a bag for yourself or a loved one! Our goals of $26,000 will go directly to funding our first major production run, and if we exceed this goal, we intend to continue building the brand and outreach to bring Kibou to parents everywhere looking to minimize and simplify their trips out with their Little Ones. It's not just a tag line, having a Deliberately Minimal Diaper Bag by your side truly allows your hands and mind to be free to focus on what really matters!
Kibou is entirely a labor of love, funded from our own pockets, designed and developed at night and on the weekends when Stephanie and I weren't working or with our children. We are so grateful for the support of every single person who has taken their time to learn more about this bag, shared or purchased a Kibou. We hope you'll join us and keep Kibou by you, too!