CORRECTION: This story incorrectly gave the weight
of the See Shell Baby Carrier. The carrier weighs 5 3/4 pounds.
Sharon Abendschoen of York Township knows her
lightweight baby carrier faces stiff competition from the makers of
hefty car seats that double as infant carriers.
But the See Shell Baby Carrier is her brainchild.
The impetus came with the 1999 birth of her first grandchild and her
daughter-in-law’s struggle with the typical car seat/carrier. It was
tricky to connect and disconnect for a car trip and a weighty,
clumsy infant carrier.
Abendschoen spent the next three years and $70,000
creating what she believes is a safer, eight-pound, user-friendly
“I was inspired,” she said with a smile. “I took
out all of the problems with the See Shell.”
Her inspiration suffered setbacks. She lost $6,000
in a useless design before finding Steven Dotson, a product designer
“He gave me a beautiful design,” Abendschoen said,
“but it’s hard to manufacture.”
Plasticraft Corp. in Wisconsin produces the shell,
and an eight-person business in Massachusetts, L.R. Manufacturing,
bends the tubular steel handle to the design specifications.
She justifies the $97.99 purchase price on the
construction and her use of American labor.
“It is not made cheaply and the labor rates are
high,” Abendschoen said.
The wholesale rate for four or more See Shells
drops to $65 each.
Linda Massey of Terrell, Texas, said she found
nothing in the marketplace but plastic junk when looking for a
carrier for her newborn grandson. When she resorted to the Internet,
she found Abendschoen’s See Shell and took a chance.
“It’s all that I thought it would be and more,”
Massey said Wednesday. “Underneath the cover is a steel handle.
Every handle in the country is plastic connected with plastic
hinges. The See Shell has a steel hinge. I feel confident with the
baby in the carrier that the handle will not bust off.”
The price is reasonable, Massey said. Families pay
a steep price for the bulky, unmanageable three-in-one car seat,
baby carrier and stroller. It doesn’t cost a dime more to buy each
Customers like the five-position handlebar that
locks in place, Abendschoen said.
A baby can play with toys dangling from the
handlebar. It also acts as a protective roll bar if an excitable
child upsets his or her seat.
She patented the design and had the carrier and
the handlebar tested for safety by independent third-party test
Abendschoen relies on local talent.
Alleyne’s Custom Works, an upholstery shop on West
Jackson Street in York, produces the three-point seat belt.
Seams Impossible of East Market Street in York
sews the reversible seat pads, visors and neck collars.
Unable to attract buyers in big stores,
Abendschoen advertises on the Internet.
Along the way, she became an advocate for safety
in baby products.
With September named Baby Safety Month,
Abendschoen hopes to promote child safety through educational
presentations and the introduction of her creation.
The York County Provider Network for childcare
welcomed Abendschoen’s message and scheduled her to speak at its
Oct. 22 meeting, said Tia Burns, president of the network.
“I have a huge debt for somebody my age, but it
beats playing the slot machines at Atlantic City,” Abendschoen said.
“At least I am doing something to help children.”
Reach Caryl Clarke at 771-2032 or