You wouldn't know it by her unassuming nature, but Ann Moore of Evergreen, Colorado, has been recognized as one of the most influential inventors by The Wall Street Journal. Some say her invention, the Snugli baby carrier, changed the way parents relate to kids.
"I didn't invent the idea. I took an age-old idea that's been going all on over the world for thousands of years and just adapted it to our western culture," she said.
In the early 1960s, Ann, a nurse, and husband Mike were Peace Corps volunteers in Togo, West Africa. She saw more than just another part of the world.
"It was so beautiful to see the mothers with the babies in the hospital, with this calmness and contentment."
Everywhere they looked, women had their babies wrapped in shawls and around their bodies, hands-free.
"I was more intrigued at the result of the emotional well-being of those babies," recalls Ann.
Back in Denver, it was only when Mandy, their first child, was born in 1964 that the Moores thought about how they were going to carry her around.
"Ann walked out of the hospital with Mandy strapped on her back just as an African would, just with a long shawl -- she brought a shawl back from Africa," recalls Mike. "She had doctors and nurses in that hospital -- their heads were spinning."
"My mother and I then worked in Denver on the original design" for the Snugli," said Ann.
Ann's mother, with help from neighbors, sewed the originals, made of corduroy and seersucker, one by one.
"People would come up and say, 'Wow, I wish I had one of those,'" Ann remembers.
When the Moores marched from Selma to Montgomery with Martin Luther King Jr., there was Mandy on Ann's back.
"People said to us, you really ought to get this patented," said Ann.
Snuglis may have started in the '60s as a hippy alternative, but they became popular even before boomers knew about bonding.
It was a cultural change for Americans.
It took seven years to reach $100,000 in sales. Mike, who worked other jobs to pay the mortgage, no longer viewed it as just a hobby and signed on full time. By 1985, the kitchen-table idea turned multimillion-dollar business was sold.
"Intellectually, we knew that this was the right thing, but when we signed the papers, it was so sad," said Ann.
They didn't get rich and Ann's creative appetite wasn't satisfied. She invented a backpack for carrying oxygen tanks called Airlift.
Four years ago, when her girls began having their own children, they said, "Let's start this again."
Ann was back at it -- stitching, snapping, folding as good as always. Ann continues to bond with her three daughters, who work in the business, and you might say her motto is, "Where I go, we go." And that just happens to be the name of the new baby carriers -"Weego."
"A lot of it begins with heart, with caring, with wanting to make life beter for the person for whom she's designing the product," said Mike.
"Anything we can do to get parents and babies closer together, to realize that love-- I'm sure that means a more loving world, and I think that's what really excites me," she said.
Today, a dozen companies make a similar product and the Moores, with "Weego," are the new kids on the block.
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