You’ll surely agree with me when I say that there are not enough online resources about how to make (and make a living out of) personalised dummy clips but there are THOUSANDS of people who make them. Perhaps you start to worry that your design is not safe enough, or that you’ll never be able to stand out of the crowd and you’re afraid that people will never buy your creations.
Well, let me tell you something: it turns out that there are A LOT of successful work-from-home mothers that actually turn their passion into a business and that established their own product brand by following a simple set of actions and choices that changed their lives for the good.
And in this article, which is the most comprehensive guide ever written on dummy clips, I will explain STEP BY STEP everything, from how to make your first personalised dummy clips to create a successful online store. And – most importantly – I will also tell you all you have to know about the safety standards so your dummy clips can be legally sold (and you can stop worrying about children being in danger around your creations!).
Ready? Let’s go!
Let me take a wild guess, you did not even know what dummy clips were until a baby came to form part of your family.
You are not alone.
If somebody would have told me, back in 2010, that I would have become the owner of Clips and Beads, a craft supplies online store focused on material to make personalised dummy clips (also known as dummy chains or, by our US friends, as pacifier clips) I would have laughed for an entire day. At that time, I was working in the tourism sector, I was not yet married and I did not even think about being a mother! Also, I did not move to the UK yet (I am Spanish married to an Italian musician who is now a professor in London). In other words, I was still in my “Life 1.0”, although towards the end of it. My older sister, however, was already mother of one and she started an online blog on Parenting, which then turned into an online store (and today is still a very successful business!) mostly thanks to…. dummy clips!
I admit I heard of them for the first time when my sister actually built a few of them. When I finally became a mother in 2012, I obviously had a rich collection of personalised teething jewellery courtesy of my sibling. But even then, I wasn’t really interested in making or selling them.
We’ve all been there… I became a “full time mum” in 2015, after we decided that we’d better raise our child ourselves instead of spending almost our whole salary in childminders or nannies. And that’s when I started being interested in opening my own business and work from home. The only logical solution, given the fact that my sister was doing so well, was to follow her steps and open an e-commerce for English speakers and sell the same kind of high-quality products to produce any kind of teething jewellery. Most importantly, being a mother myself, the primary intention was to find the safest tested supplies around, after having seen so much cheap horrible stuff online.
As a result, now, a lot of people and shops buy our supplies to produce their creations. The most common one being personalised dummy clips. The reason for this trend is probably the increasing number of full-time mums, who decide start earning some money by selling their homemade creations, an hobby which today is possible to convert into a real job thanks to the Internet. Since I have became quite an expert on the subject, I am definitely happy to share my knowledge with all my readers and customers with this guide, which is the most comprehensive you can find online. Let’s start by describing the two possible types of dummy clips.
There are two main types of custom dummy clips. The first type is the one made with ribbon. Some people choose it because it’s less time-consuming to make and it does not require the same attention to safety as the one made with beads, as there are not many small parts involved. When making your dummy clip ribbon will be simply sewed to secure the various parts in place.
Beaded dummy clips is the other option and, when properly made, they are perfectly safe (assuming you follow the process to certify them as described here) and definitely more customisable and artistic. This tutorial will be focused on the creation of beaded pacifier clips, as I see too many improper designs around and I would like to make sure that people only sell safe products.
Choosing the right supplies is essential if you want to make something of good quality and, most of all, safe for the kids.
When it comes to the material of the beads, you generally have two main choices for your creations: wood and silicone. I have seen all kinds of awful material being sold by certain Ebay and Amazon sellers and I definitely spent more time on researching the best producers of each single products than on any other aspect of building my business. The reason is: children will play with these parts. And they will chew them, bite them and manipulate them. Now, I’m a pretty relaxed person but I want to sleep properly at night by knowing that no kid would be ever harmed by something I sell, hence the reason of my constant search for quality. Remember that it doesn’t really matter where to attach your pacifier clip, as long as it’s made properly using safe supplies!
I cannot stress enough the importance of choosing the right material for your personalised dummy clips, so please bear with me while I explain what you should look for.
The best manufacturers of wooden beads and wooden clips are in Germany, a country well known for the quality of their production and for their wooden toys. The most common types of wood used to produce beads, clips and other small parts are maple and beech. Beech is a hardwood often used to produce musical instrument such as pianos, violins and drums as well as the stocks of military rifles. Maple, a more expensive option, is even harder than beech and it shares with it its qualities as a tonewood, being used to produce the necks of guitars, violas and violins.
Wooden products are generally less expensive than silicone products. They are beautiful to use to give your designs a more “vintage” and warmer look and they look great when mixed with crochet and even with silicone to create your original personalised wooden dummy chain. For the nature of the lacquer, they might look discoloured after many months of use, unlike silicone which never really loses any brilliance.
As for the colours, usually you can find three basic types of wooden products: untreated, natural, coloured.
Untreated beads are basically just made of the raw material, whereas the natural ones do have some kind of lacquer. You can find a multitude of coloured clips and beads which will be perfect to make your personalised wooden dummy clip.
When buying them you need to pay attention to a couple of important characteristics. First of all, they have to be free from toxic substances, oxide and nickel.
The second (very important!) requirement is that they must be resistant to sweat and saliva. Children will carry these products on their sensitive skin and will chew them quite a lot, so you really want to make sure that the simple wetting of the lacquer does not produce any wear or detachment. This is also a legal requirement if you want to sell the products, as you’ll learn later. Finally, one last word goes to the safety of wooden clips, which MUST have ventilation holes such has the ones in the picture. Do not buy clips without them, as they may represent a choking hazard for the kids!
Silicone is a polymer that includes a synthetic compound that makes the material heat-resistant and rubber-like. The kind of silicone we must use for our dummy clips is the one called “Silicone Rubber”, which is basically a food grade silicone compound, used often in many applications that have direct contact with food and drink (like some cupcake moulds, toddler cups).
Silicone products are generally a bit more expensive than their wooden counterparts but they do guarantee a longer life, as the colours practically never wear off. The pieces are lighter and less likely to rupture than wood. The general look and feel of your personalised dummy clips will be more “modern and futuristic” and not as “warm and vintage” so, again, it’s really just a question of what you would like to create.
Practically all silicone manufacturers are located in China. Because the whole world basically relies on Chinese factories for silicone production, most of them will necessarily adhere to the strict regulations imposed by the EU on this kind of material. However, you must be particularly careful when choosing your suppliers, as silicone is particularly “nice to chew” for our babies and we want to be absolutely sure that it does not contain any harmful substance. In particular, make sure that it does not contain any BPA, phthalates, PVC, cadmium and lead. I spent a long time researching for the best factory for my silicone supplies but it was well worth it. You can find a plethora of different colours for your silicone beads and in some cases it’s even possible to customise them with special patterns or tones when ordering them in big quantities.
Finally, like with the wooden clips, make sure that your silicone clips have ventilation holes to prevent any risk of suffocation.
Crochet beads are a nice addition to certain designs and definitely give them a warmer pleasant look. Personally (and this is just my humble opinion, but I would be delighted to see some great creation that contradicts this!) I would recommend against making a whole soother chain out of just crochet beads, as they look nicer when they are used as a decorative special element. Crochet is usually threaded on top of an untreated wooden bead, as you can see in the picture. You can find quite a number of different colours and patterns of these decorative elements. As for the best manufacturers, I have found the best producers to be, once again, in Germany and that’s where I get all this kind of supplies.
Another material that could be part of our pacifier chain supplies arsenal is acrylic beads. I have to admit, although I mostly saw them used by people who create customised keyrings and other personalised products, they look very nice in combination with Crochet Beads and other wooden products. The acrylic beads I generally use are the white ones with black engraved letters on four faces. Again, I recommend you to be especially careful with the chemicals used during the manufacturing process and only choose the ones that follow the strict EN 71-3 regulations. The ones I have, also passed safety tests conducted by SGS, which made me particularly happy to sell them.
When it comes to safety of dummy clips, cord is an essential part that is often overlooked. The entire structure of the item (which will need to be assessed by various stress tests, as you’ll learn later) will rely on the strength of the cord, which will need to be resistant enough to prevent your small parts from detaching. Also, the cord will be chewed by the babies like the rest of the soother chain. One of the best requirements your cord could meet is the European Öko Tex certificate, which guarantees the total absence of any toxic substance. This satin cord is what I have used for my personalised dummy clips tutorial and it definitely meets all the safety requirements.
You know what I’m tired of hearing? I am tired of hearing about babies being harmed by people building their personalised dummy clips without following any safety procedure!
This is probably the most important section of the whole article, because you will understand what you need to build products that will be safe to be used by babies. Children safety should be our main concern when building your personalised soother clips, as they may represent a hazard when built unproperly. Luckily, European regulations made it possible to set a series of standards that, if met, will certify the quality of our products and will guarantee the absolute safety for our babies.
The general European standard for Toys is the EN71, which is made of 13 different parts. However, for our dummy clips, the parts we will have to carefully follow are the first three.
Part 1 is about the “Mechanical and physical properties” of the toy and basically is concerned with any mechanical and physical feature that could possibly harm a child. In our case, the main hazard would be the presence of small parts such as beads that, in case of rupture of the cord, would separate from the chain thus representing a potential choking threat. Luckily we can assess the strength of our personalised dummy clip through a series of tests, that are listed in another standard especially formulated for our needs, the EN 12586:2007+A1:2011, which I wholeheartedly recommend purchasing if you are seriously interested in making and selling your creations.
Part 2 of the EN71 is about the Flammability of the products, which implies that a series of flammability tests will have to be performed on your products. Have a look at this and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Finally Part 3, called “Migration of certain elements” is to ensure that no toxic chemicals are present in any of the parts of our products. In particular: aluminium, antimony, arsenic, barium, boron, cadmium, chromium (III), chromium (IV), cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, strontium, tin, organic tin and zinc. Obviously, this is the part where the quality of your supplies will determine the safety of your final product, which is why I was so peaky about choosing the right factories when I started my online store.
I have seen all kinds of weird homemade tests performed on dummy clips by people on blogs (which is already a step ahead of other people who actually do NOT perform whatever kind of test and still sell their products online!) like hanging weights on the clips (yes, one of the many tests prescribed on the EN 12586:2007+A1:2011 is actually a stress test). While that could definitely represent a good first step towards making your dummy clips safe, I recommend having your final products tested by a certified lab, through which you could obtain a CE Marking and legally sell all your creations throughout the EU while making sure that kids will be actually safe around them.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could actually show a certificate that tells all your potential customer that your products complies with all the regulations?
Good news: you can do that!
Having your pacifier holders tested will cost you a variable fee, depending on the lab, but it is definitely doable and it will be actually very good for your business, as (sadly) there are only a few makers around with their products properly tested, so it WILL make you stand out of the crowd!
Testing labs in the UK are regulated by UKAS, so you can find quite a lot of them with a quick Google search if you want to ask them for a quote. If you do not live in the UK, search for your national accreditation body.
Another way to obtain a CE Marking of your homemade dummy clips is to purchase a £50 certification self-certification pack from Conformance, a very well known company that has a vast experience with any kind of Conformity Certificates. Their customer support is really helpful so do not hesitate to take a look at their website and eventually get in touch with them.
Now that all our safety information has been covered….
Don’t even try to deny it… You were waiting for this:
How To Make your Personalised Dummy Clips in 5 Easy Steps
We have finally arrived at the core of this article, where I show of one the methods that you can use to build a custom dummy chain.
In this tutorial, we will build a very cute wooden pacifier clip, using various types of parts. This is obviously just an example and, using the same technique, you can build any kind of personalised dummy clips, as long as the length of the chain, from the base of the clip to the top of the part that goes on the dummy, does not exceed 22cm. In this example, we will make a personalised dummy clip and form the name “Chloe” with our letter beads. If you also want to make a personalised one, make sure that the name is not too long or use a shorter version so you can still meet the standards of maximum 22 centimeters. Let’s start!
For this particular design, I used the following parts:
To make a dummy clip, you don’t really need any special tool, except for:
DUMMY CLIP: TOOLS LIST
- A lighter.
- A pair of scissors.
- A hairpin, or a simple watch pin pusher.
Take the cord, fold it in half.
Now, measure a hole of the size of the clip…
…and make a knot at the bottom of it, using the whole doubled cord.
Make sure that the clip fits inside the upper part.
Finally, use a lighter to slightly burn the two ends so you can easily slide them inside the beads.
Pass a safety bead through the cord, with the larger hole facing the knot. You can eventually use your hairpin or your pin pusher to help pushing the second end into the bead.
Pull the bead firmly at the end.
Pass all your parts through the cord and complete your design. Again, you can use your hairpin to facilitate the operation.
Slide in the second safety bead, with the bigger hole facing the end of your cord.
Tie a knot with the cord and pull it very tightly…
…then tie it again strongly.
Pass the final part of the cord through the clip…
…pull the two ends on the back…
and tie them firmly.
Then tie another knot…
…slightly burn the ending parts together so they weld…
and then push them inside the safety bead, helping yourself with the hairpin.
Your beautiful dummy clip is ready!
This is one of the many methods you can use to build your pacifier chains and it will work with a wide range of designs. However, if you have any other methods you use, you are very welcome to let us know about them by leaving a comment at the end of this page!
Great! Now you have built your first two or three personalised dummy clips and your little one loves them. And perhaps you have built quite a few for friends and family, and everybody is telling you how awesome they are.
I know the feeling.
You are probably starting to develop a personal design style and you are fantasising about making some money by selling your personalised dummy clips and open up your personal brand. Fortunately, the Internet made it possible for anyone with some decent design talent to be able to open an online shop and eventually turn your passion into a real job.
Just one recommendation: when you sell your products in Europe, you are required to provide a CE mark for them. This will involve an initial cost but, I promise you, you will have an advantage over the multitude of people who do not have them as buyers will trust you more. Also, you will potentially be able to sell your personalised dummy clips to retailers and scale your business up. Last but not least, your dummy clips will be safe and you would be legally protected in case any really rare unfortunate incident occurs. I am not really informed about the regulations of countries outside the EU, except perhaps for Australia. With personalised dummy clips Australia actually follows pretty much the same rules that we have in our EN71, which sort of tells me that these are pretty much global strict specifications that would work basically everywhere.
So, here’s a list of tools you can use to promote your designer pacifier clips and reach out for the world!
Facebook is an amazing way of promoting your personalised dummy clips store. You can create a page for your brand in literally seconds and start populating it with your products adding a shop section to it (have a look at this article ). Make sure to take great pictures of your creations and to carefully describe them so everyone can know all about them.
Once you are ready with it, you will make your first post, using a nice picture and perhaps announcing a special discount for the first week or so. Then you have to make sure people start sharing and commenting your post like crazy! Facebook rules about advertising are quite strict so you should not exchange a like and a share for a privilege (a discount, a free gift or anything like that) but you can always be polite and ask everyone to comment and share. If your products are awesome, people will do it anyway.
If you want to build a decent base of likes, you can spend a little bit of money and promote your post using Facebook Ads. In order to maximise your results and make sure that all your money is spent properly, you will need to adjust your demographic target very carefully. I found out that the ideal group that would buy your personalised dummy clips is something like “Mothers between 25 and 40 with a baby under six months” or “Mothers between 25 and 40 expecting a child” but you can play around with it and see what works best for you. Also, start with a narrow geographic area (your Country or even your State or Region, if you get millions of potential targets). We want to reach a big audience but not an incredibly huge number, to be able to control your ad better.
Facebook advertising is a very broad subject and it’s out of the scope of this article, however here’s a couple of resources to get you started:
People sometimes have brilliant ideas and Etsy is one of them. This website focuses on people who create their own special designs so it is the perfect platform to sell your personalised dummy chain series. Etsy is free to join and they will get a commission from your sales in exchange of their service. There’s a plethora of people selling dummy clips on Etsy but with some patience and marketing skills you will be able to stand out. The great thing about Etsy is that it takes care about all your transactions and the user interface is very easy and clean. You can (and you should) integrate your Etsy page on your Facebook campaigns to maximise the results.
Selling on Etsy is quite straightfoward, however here’s a couple of suggestions for you:
Shopify is another great option for your personalised dummy clips online store. Shopify is an e-commerce platform which allows you to create a professional looking shop very easily. Shopify has a monthly cost (starting from $29 per month) and they charge a small percentage on every sale. However, it will allow you to have your own store page which, since it does not belong to any online service (like Etsy), gives your brand a very professional look without requiring you to spend a lot of money to hire a professional web designer. Shopify, like Etsy, can be easily integrated in your Facebook campaigns, which will be immensely helpful to build your customer base.
Find some help on Shopify here:
If you are the kind of person who likes to be in control of any sort of aspect of your business, then you should considering buying a domain name (so if your store is called, for instance, Poppy Lovely Creations, you will have a www.poppylovelycreations.com or something similar) and start building your own website. The easiest option to sell your personalised dummy clips would probably be a WordPress site. You can find a lot of beautiful ready-made templates around for a small price (or even for free) to be used with your online store. My favorite page for WordPress themes is Theme Forest, an amazing source of beautifully made customisable templates, with a large selection of e-commerce ready sites. There are many WordPress plugins around, but you should definitely check out WooCommerce, a comprehensive solution for your online store. Make sure, as always, to promote your website on Facebook and, I can promise you, sales will begin to flow! More to read here:
YouTube is the second biggest search engine for volume of searches. If you want to be found, you need to be on YouTube. It is very easy to create a decent YouTube video with little or no budget. You could eventually think about making a slideshow with the best products of your shop, add some music (make sure it’s royalty free, or your video will be removed!) and, most importantly, a great description that contains the link of your online store (webpage, Etsy, Shopify or any other).
Videos are a great way to engage your potential customers and to promote your products on social media. Videos are also easily embeddable in any of your sites, and are an absolutely essential tool of promotion which can attract many customers.
So, we finally reached the end of this guide, which I really hope you found useful. If you have any personalised baby dummy chain design that you would like to share with me, as well as any suggestions or comments, you are very welcome to write us at [email protected]. I also would love to keep in touch with all of you so please leave a comment! And, last but not least, if you liked what you just read, please share it with everybody!