No matter where you go, there are toddlers perched high on shoulders, small hands gripping their parents’ heads, and big eyes taking in the bright, new world they’re still discovering. Making this activity easier is what MiniMeis, a foldable shoulder carrier that securely and ergonomically supports the perched child (and parent), is all about – and the three Norwegian dads who invented it have achieved remarkable success.

The root of MiniMeis’ invention and its subsequent success is as simple as this: a father’s desire to connect with his young child. This is what sparked Julius Winger’s, Marcus Martinuzzi’s and Tarjei Espolin Johnson’s imaginations and led to them developing a way to engage with children on a more meaningful level in day-to-day life. It started in 2011, when industrial designers Winger and Martinuzzi went on paternity leave and spent every day with their children.

Although there are other baby-and-toddler-carrying solutions, hanging both on their parents’ fronts and backs – and indeed the name of MiniMeis derives from the Norwegian word for these carriers, ‘bæremeis’ – the fathers found them limited in their practicality in everyday life. “These traditional carriers are good if you’re going on long hikes, but it’s not that often you do that with these young children,” Johnson, who now serves as CEO, remarks.

MiniMeis – connecting with your child from day one

Freeing up your hands – and your child’s view

Traditional carriers also are much more restrictive for the child, who has limited mobility and often can’t see much more than the parent’s neck. “We once walked around Disney World with a GoPro camera, fastening it first to a pram and then to my head, and it was amazing how different the view is, how much more of the world your kid can see on your shoulders,” Johnson adds.

“Our goal is for it to be easy and fun to involve your kids in your life. For example, if you’re mowing the lawn, rather than them lying in a pram or on the lawn, they’re part of the activity, you can talk to them, point at things and so on,” Johnson explains.

The greatest advantage is that it really frees up everyone’s hands. Rather than clutch your toddler’s legs, you can hand them a grape and hold someone’s hand. It’s a remarkably simple idea, and it’s no surprise that the product has taken off since they launched it publicly with a global patent in 2015, after four years of playing around with it for personal use.

“Things really exploded especially in the US from day one,” says Johnson. “We sold two MiniMeis a day, then five, then ten, and suddenly it was a 100 per day. It grew very, very quickly.”

By dads, for dads – and their families

No doubt, part of this success is thanks to Time Magazine naming MiniMeis one of the Top 100 Inventions of the Year in 2019, a fact that MiniMeis proudly displays on their website. They are also efficient marketers with a personal touch, as they are all involved in making their own promotional material, and they feature stories of people using the MiniMeis all over the world.

The company has now sold over 100,000 MiniMeis to over 150 countries. “We’re quite certain that a reason we’ve made such a breakthrough internationally is that it’s been developed by and for dads, and so few products in the for-children industry are made by dads. It’s mostly focused on mothers,” Johnson reflects. “And so the recent trend of fathers taking on more responsibilities has worked well for us.”

The increased role dads are taking in childrearing is something that some consider as typically Scandinavian – it perhaps comes as no surprise that this company was created by three Norwegian dads – but Johnson is quick to emphasise that this is a world-wide trend. “Dads are taking more responsibility everywhere, and we think it’s great to help push that – we’re really focused on the father being present from a young age.”

MiniMeis – connecting with your child from day one

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Instagram: @minimeis

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