Award-winning baby business formed in Millhouses is a real family affair

An award-winning business selling UK-made baby slings has grown from strength to strength over the past few years – and it all happens from a family home in Millhouses.

Monday, 22nd March 2021, 2:28 pm

Husband and wife pair Alex and Michael Duxbury started baby product company Lifft in 2015 from their home in Millhouses, Sheffield, creating slings and wraps for adults to wear to make it more comfortable for themselves and their children when carrying them.

Since then, they have gone on to win and be shortlisted for multiple awards – including winning gold for the Best Sling or Wrap at the prestigious Made for Mums Awards, “the Oscar’s of baby products,” Alex says, two years running.

The slings are even sewn by a family member in Hull, by Alex’s mother-in-law, Heather, and then sent back for packaging and posting – which is assisted by Alex and Michael’s two children: Georgina, six, and Toby, two, making the business a family affair from day one.

The Lifft family: Michael, Alex, Georgina and Toby Duxbury in Ecclesall Woods.

They started Lifft with the comfortable, easy to use and stylish Pouch Sling in 2015, before adding the Lifft Stretchy Wrap in 2016.

Alex Duxbury said: "We knew even when we were pregnant that we would carry our daughter, so we learnt about slings.

"We knew about the benefits of the bonding between the parents and the baby so if we could do that that would be great, and we also noticed that there wasn’t a lot of British-made slings.

"People have always carried children, all through history.

Alex carrying Georgina in a Purple and Navy Pouch Sling when she was 18 months-old.

“They will have used cloth or whatever was available, so there is also so many benefits for the wearer – the mum, dad, carer, nanny or grandparent. And there’s also lots of benefits for the baby.

"It improves communication, because they are at eye height and can watch your facial expressions; they can look at you talking, watch your eye contact, and get involved with communication.

"Whereas in a buggy they will only see the other person’s knee.

"It also helps reduce colic, and reducing digestion. They are more comfortable, and can sleep upright, and you can breastfeed in the sling, so there’s many benefits of slings.”

Toby Duxbury at 30 months with a bulging Post Office delivery.

Alex is a a Babywearing Consultant, trained with Slingababy, so can give advice to customers on how to safely use the products.

Alex and Michael used to attend regular baby shows with their children to show off the products, but because of the pandemic have been unable to recently.

Now, the majority of their business is through the website, and people buy their British-made products from all over the world.

“We used to do big shows and events, but because of Covid we haven’t been able to do that over the last year or so.

"We are very good at demonstrating the product, because if someone is not sure whether they want a sling, at the shows we are able to show people how to use the sling and we have about 12 weighted dolls, so if we say, this is what it is really like.

"They try with a weighted doll and they say it is really comfortable, and they’re really surprised. The big shows are a great for people who are new to baby wearing and to promote the sling.”

Their own children, Georgina and Toby, also used to attend the shows, and would be help to show how comfortable the product was by falling asleep in their dad’s arms.

Now, both help their parents with putting stickers on the boxes, counting the products, and taking them to the nearby Millhouses Post Office, after Mrs Duxbury has handed them over after sewing.

"My mother-in-law, the third generation, she makes the slings, sews them all up near Hull and gives us every few weeks, 100 or so slings and swap them from the cars.

"We make the carboard boxes up and put the stickers on, so from a very young age they have been involved.

"My mother-in-law made some doll-size ones for the kids so the kids carry them around and know how to wrap and hold their babies, it is quite sweet and makes them feel like they are involved.”

The couple have also been working with students from Sheffield Hallam University, and are involved with the work-related learning scheme Venture Matrix, talking about business and marketing strategy.

The winners of the Made for Mum’s Awards 2021 are soon to be announced, so Lifft are hoping that they can once again fight off much-larger companies to take the gold award once more.

Visit www.lifftslings.com to see the products, and find them on Instagram and Facebook.