Cloth Diaper Podcast – Show 75
La Petite Ourse
From selling on Kijiji to scaling at an international level, David from La Petite Ourse shares his story of building a cloth diaper brand. Based out of the Montreal Area, LPO diapers are a well-designed product at an incredibly affordable cost. David is a very fast talker, but incredibly passionate about his diapering business and the journey that go this brand to where it is.
Bailey Bouwman 02:06
Now I’ve been rambling for what is apparently a full two minutes and we are going to move on. I’m going to introduce David, and we’ll listen to what’s going on with this brand and their ambitions in the coming year. But a lot of my listeners are international about 60% USA and 20% in Australia and the UK. Oh somebody who hasn’t heard of La Petite Ourse. What got you into cloth diapering, where does your story begin?
David, La Petite Ourse 02:39
It’s so funny. You know, we currently we have a warehouse in the UK in the UK, we’re servicing the US and it’s so funny. I’m talking to so many people these days, and they j just massacre this game. And you know, we actually thought of going like the whole lpo cloth diaper route and rebranding, but really what we’re gonna stay true to who we are and we’re a callback based company and we love what we do so nine years ago, when when my our first was well not born yet he was he was in my wife’s tummy. We started looking for all sorts of solutions and you know how it goes you know, her parents are we were doing baby shows and and then our friends were having babies and of course cloth diapers came out and we weren’t short first like what it was of course you get informed you do what people do with our business now but you kind of see who’s there and what’s going on. And we realized that there wasn’t a huge offer for for affordable and high quality cloth diapers. And that was like almost 10 years ago now so many times like like I won’t name them but there were like like Chinese manufacturers who would who would sell on on Amazon and who would who would really like crowd that really cheap market but that’s not really what we wanted to do we wanted to make sure that that that the manufacturing process was going to be respected that everything that had to do with a diaper was going to be perfect therefore offer that two year warranty so anyway so let’s back up a bit so we start this company but but we sourced with like so many different suppliers we had the chance of testing like every single product imaginable on our firstborn so he survived all of those tests it’s a good sign and then basically we said okay, what what features do we really really like so I’m not going to pretend like we reinvented a diaper where we said no let’s let’s start our own brand and and let’s only take the best of the best of everything from the fabric to the actual conception of the diapers themselves. So we actually started on the cheesy which is like a version of Craigslist right? No brand just saying we’re a family we have these there was there was no brand on the diaper and then
Bailey Bouwman 04:46
like 20 2010 2012 of you
David, La Petite Ourse 04:50
I know.so at some point but our first order sold out in like you know a few weeks and said okay, let’s scale let’s brand let’s and then the website. And then at first I remember we’d actually, our objective was to encourage people away in low income families to be able to afford cloth diapering. So we’d actually bring my wife and I in all of the areas around our house, in complexes or in subsidized housing, we put posters, we put in mailboxes and flyers, to get people to save because we realize that you save like, Well, you know, we only $3,000 is ridiculous. It’s a lot of savings. Anyway, so we started from there, and then it was in our house and then in our basement, and then we have to with move like four times within two years, because it grew too fast. So but but it’s okay, it’s okay. Like those first, those first years were really fun. And now we have like a really solid team where we, you know, whenever I go into the team, yeah, well, it
Bailey Bouwman 05:48
reminds me, your story reminds me of so much of listening to Muhammad at Lil Helper as well have this kind of startup journey and growing faster.
David, La Petite Ourse 06:01
yeah, and we’re from the education sector, my wife and I, so we were both working for school districts 10 years ago, so my wife didn’t go back after the first child because things were stepping out. We were growing. And then a few years later, I said goodbye to my job and, and went all in and I don’t regret it at all.
David, La Petite Ourse 06:20
Where are you guys located? We’re right on South Shore of Montreal. So I can see my shell from this window. Yeah, are you originally from Quebec? Yep. Oh, yes. Yeah, race. Uh, yeah. Yeah. I’m one of those hybrid people. Okay. Yeah. Cuz you have I know Quebec accent to me.
David, La Petite Ourse 06:39
Yeah, I went to school in English. Oh, there’s that law in Quebec, where where, you know, if your parents went to English school, they can send their kids English school. So our children now go to school, which is nice. It offers that possibility to my sister lives
Bailey Bouwman 06:53
out in Granby?
David, La Petite Ourse 06:55
Definitely, yeah. Yes. Close.
Bailey Bouwman 06:56
Very close. So I was that’s why do you live in a community that has a cloth diaper rebate right now?
David, La Petite Ourse 07:05
Yeah, these subsidies. Yeah. There’s $100 back on your order. A few. South Shore some people give some municipalities give up to $200.
Bailey Bouwman 07:16
Like, I know that that fluctuates depending on your region or your city or whatever. I’m just kind of curious. I have chatted with a couple of Quebec brands over the years and kind of interesting how that works. So you guys yeah, like super bootstrap. It feels like I can’t I can’t even imagine selling a brand on Kijiji. familiar with Kijiji out here on the West Coast as well. Over Craigslist or whatever. But yeah.
Bailey Bouwman 07:48
So you went into this process of designing a diaper. And I want to touch on a little bit of what Lindsay touches on in her blog post as well. I think there’s a less stigma now around diapers made in China than there used to be but we definitely went through a little period there where it was your diaper is different than a relabeled diaper, you guys have created a designed a special product. And you have a really great working relationship is my understanding with your factory in China. Exactly.
David, La Petite Ourse 08:20
Absolutely, I’d love to over the years, you know, that sourcing part at first was was fun because you get to meet all sorts of people, but you’re not meeting them. They’re they’re like sending the stuff to you. But then after that, once we decided on our manufacturer, we bought plane tickets and we were there. So we actually developed the product with them. We were able to do like live choosing of the materials and the and the textile and the prints and everything you name it. We got to see everything every aspect of it from the financing aspect to how they treat their employees. And and while we were there we had the chance to visit like 10 other cloth diaper factories because we needed to see what was going on and and I’ll tell you they’re they’re not all great. And I’m not I don’t want to put any bad press on China not at all like they’re they’re doing great things. But I can tell you that the manufacturer that we’re dealing with we’ve been dealing with for many years now we have a really tight relationship I think my wife probably talks she does the purchase that she probably talks to her supplier more than she does to me
Bailey Bouwman 09:20
that’s I hear that story from from every brand from right Maria Petite Crown and The Bebeboo and Mohammed a Lil helpers. Like those relationships. I think as customers we don’t really see and understand that you guys have these beautiful that we wouldn’t even imagine like just one way one brand I talked to they posted them back here in America and like
David, La Petite Ourse 09:44
Bailey Bouwman 09:44
it’s this back and forth relationship becomes this weird business friendship that is more personal than I think I could ever imagine. Right? But
David, La Petite Ourse 09:52
that that’s how business has to be based on people. It’s all it’s I mean, if you look at the people and one of the things, we’re the most Problem is having built this community of not only manufacturers but but of people that are helping out that are working for us that are, you know, for example, the person doing our Facebook ads right now he’s in the Philippines. And he’s one of the Philippines because he’s less paid or he’s no, he’s he’s a freelancer, he’s actually getting more paid. No better paid than a lot of my employees. It just happens that I found him on on one of the platforms, I used to find freelancers, and we connected and we’re brothers lady lives, it’s really funny. So, so anyway, so all that to say, you have to build this community. And then that’s how, that’s how we started. At first, it was a family based business. And we’ve we’ve kept those values all the way, all the way. And we’ve never ever done any taking any decision that would go against that.
Bailey Bouwman 10:44
So you guys have grown quite a bit in the last year or two, I guess with reaching out to the United States and the UK and
David, La Petite Ourse 10:51
yeah, us is really really it was last fall we launched so so yeah, that’s been good. And then UK. UK is great. But then Brexit happens so then shipping outside UK is really complicated. So we’re actually going back out. We’re gonna we’re gonna have two separate warehouses in Europe now.
Bailey Bouwman 11:08
employ now a significant amount of people.
David, La Petite Ourse 11:11
Yeah, well, we have our team right now in here in Longeua, which is in Montreal. Look, we have our logistics coordinator, our graphic designer, marketing director, communication, customer service and the French came out there. And then my wife and I, and then plus, there’s there’s stashes and there’s always people around. We’ve outsourced fulfillment, because it was getting really, really hard to, to tackle logistics on that level, because the amount of orders and diapers was just, it was seriously insane for Canada. So we said, okay, we need to outsource. Again, like they’re like family. We talked to them every day. Our warehouse is so
Bailey Bouwman 11:49
cool. I mean, I just embarrassingly, have always kind of thought of lpo as being at small quick brand by you guys. For more like Bambino Mio or Tots Bots, scale bumGenius scale, like you guys are doing big things. bigger things.
David, La Petite Ourse 12:08
Yeah. For orders out of 10 in Canada actually leave our province. Yeah, yeah. So So BC is like super strong, you know, whatever. West out east is now coast to coast. So surprisingly, a French brand is is really well appreciated. And we’re glad to have you know, to be building community. Yeah.
Bailey Bouwman 12:31
It is fun. Okay, so the other kind of thing. So as an international influencer, I guess, but most of my audiences in the United States. So we’re gonna ask this like, awkward, touchy, on the passionate people want to know, why can’t we get the gusset in the United States? Does that impact the quality of the performance of the diaper should they be concerned?
David, La Petite Ourse 12:53
Yeah. All great questions. And we do get on a daily basis that we get we get that question saying hey, I realized that there’s a difference in there so so of course the patent issue with with the double gusset if that’s okay, we’ve we we only launched now in the us because we decided to stick to Canada was big enough market for us but the demand was so strong in the US we get emails like every day. Oh, my God. Yeah. Exactly. So so of course we have to redesign the diaper for the US market we had to remove the double gusset which is fine. doesn’t doesn’t change anything from the quality of the diaper. No, what I what I find the biggest feature of our diaper is actually that it’s a sleeve right, it’s a double opening pocket. Yeah, and I know that sounds that sounds like oh, okay, that’s that’s cool, but not not that much. Oh, no, it makes a huge difference. One when you’re a dad like me and you have big hands and you’re putting the inserts in your hands and then the inserts just leave by themselves in the wash. So it’s more like a sleeve by than a pocket right because the pocket world would be closed on one side. And that that is the key feature that makes our diaper really easy to use. We also chose to use a grace week cloth inside the USA diapers. Just to avoid that stain and the sweet cloth is handpicked by us when we were in China. We have the chances to see a different a few different types and our supplier knows not to share that secret with anybody else.
Bailey Bouwman 14:23
Yeah, I was really impressed with the quality of that gray suede. Is that unique then on your USA diaper so Canadian
David, La Petite Ourse 14:33
same SEUDE cloth it’s just that it’s just a gray seude cloth. Meaning we if we had to keep that the same quality of seude cloth in both markets, but we thought that the gray would would be best for for this new market just figuring this out. I love the look and feel of it. But our Canadian brand is so branded now with that white seude cloth it would be really hard to switch so well maybe eventually we’ll it will make this well I’ve seen it’s
Bailey Bouwman 14:58
been for my perspective have been a bit of a trend this year is this kind of switch to a colored suede or a color, athletic wicking jersey or colored fleece. And a lot of what I’m hearing from brands is that it’s like consumer fear of stains, which is super cosmetic. But I guess if it’s that little thing that convinces, like, decades of detergent marketing has told us the saints are evil, even though they’re not. So I mean, if that’s, if that’s what’s gonna help, that’s what’s gonna help.
David, La Petite Ourse 15:27
So to reassure our your clients from or your followers from, from the US, it’s a great diaper, it’s warrantied, the same, it’s gonna be worn the same by the baby, it’s gonna feel the same. So that double gusset is something that we put in there because of the testing that we did with our kids. But if you look at for example, my my loops, then she say, No, no, I actually prefer the diaper without the double gummies. Right. So, I mean, everybody has a different opinion on that. And in order to respect the laws, we thought that that was like a no brainer for us. Yeah. And so far, we’re getting great feedback on the diaper itself. Yeah.
Bailey Bouwman 16:00
It’s a great shape. And it’s a great yeah, it’s a great shape diaper like, and I love what you say about sleep. So as somebody who does a lot of like chatting with parents, I’m gonna have to start using this word sleeve more instead of pocket because you’re right, I think about I have. I have a different brand here in front of me, but it’s also got that this is this is more sleepy than pocket. Yes.
David, La Petite Ourse 16:22
Bailey Bouwman 16:22
David, La Petite Ourse 16:23
Yeah. Yeah. It’s already you’re already adding to your routine. So you might as well make it as easy as possible. And really, I was a stay at home dad for like my both my boys. So I changed a lot of diapers and definitely that that weighed in in that to how we thought our diapersfor families
Bailey Bouwman 16:43
while that like that’s super cool to see and hear a story from another cloth diaper dad. So unfortunately, such a minority in the space.
David, La Petite Ourse 16:54
Nope. And when you figure out what the liners right, the bamboo biodegradable liners, some people use washable liners, and that’s fine. But for me, like, like, I won’t speak for all dads. I’ll speak for me as a dad. Definitely between the sleeve and the liner. Like, there’s there’s nothing left to cloth that bring other than starting your washing machine, right?
Bailey Bouwman 17:13
Like you’re already doing because you have so much laundry with again. No, no,
David, La Petite Ourse 17:18
no, it’s crazy. It’s crazy. So no, no, no, it’s nice. It’s nice. It’s easy. And we’re so happy. We haven’t we have like, I can’t tell you numbers because I never know who’s listening to this. But but like we’re talking about it like just last year, or in the last 12 months right before the podcast, I just checked the sales and the environmental impact. But we’re actually between 15 and 20 million diapers that did not go to landfill last year. Just to give you an idea, like we’ve built a community of people that have chosen to take this route, it’s easy is doable, completely feasible for any family. It’s affordable. And obviously land. Could you imagine like just picture that many soiled disposable diapers? That would be like, I don’t know how many containers that would be ridiculous. Yeah.
Bailey Bouwman 18:06
Yeah, like that is. That’s incredible. And to see so much. So much like excitement is just awesome. So what I mean, maybe you just answered this question, what are you most proud of in your story of launching a brand over the last nine years?
David, La Petite Ourse 18:24
most proud of? Hmm, that’s a that’s a you know, I think I think that, yeah, no, I missed the times when we could do baby shows and actually, you know, talk to people because we’re all online, right? So of course, there’s a we give you like Facebook Lives and boring stuff. I hate doing that. But but in talking to people and people come up to us and say, you know, we met you last year at this show. And and we decided to give it a try. We were completely close to the idea. We gave it a try. And now we realize how could we have waited so long? Right? And, and that story repeats itself, like on a daily basis. So really, it’s making cloth diaper mainstream. That that for us anyway, in our community. And when I say our community now it’s like international community. That just it makes a lot of sense, you know, so so we coming from our background, like the education background, like I was a special care counselor and then academic advisor and but I was always into a bunch of projects, right? But yeah, wouldn’t have thought I’d be selling cloth. But like I fell in love with this world, like years ago, and yeah, we’re not going to stop. So I think building this community and making it mainstream is definitely something that
Bailey Bouwman 19:35
we’re, um, well, we’ve seen like your just your international expansion here. It’s been such a great step moving forward and bringing that affordable price to the United States to everywhere.
David, La Petite Ourse 19:50
Yeah, yeah, we’re happy they just the US is a different market. For us just just learning how people shop, what they expect what they and we’re getting, like daily You’ve messaged me saying when our new prints coming out, and they’re coming out, we have some coming out this week actually. But we feel that excitement that’s there. And we’re trying to nurture that and work with that and, and understand like the different zones also like it’s such a, you know, we have there’s a big traction from California from Texas from New York. But I mean, for us USA still pretty new other than going to Wildwood during the summer for holidays. We’re learning a lot about about moms and dads from the US right now. It’s
Bailey Bouwman 20:28
the first brand of many, I’ve talked to many brands who’ve kind of alluded to different personalities across the United States in their shopping habits that I feel like I’m gonna have to explore one day on my own. Yeah, I’m starting to think about how I see that in my own business as I’ve got a book that I sell, and I have a merchant that I sell, I’m now Okay, you know, I actually haven’t paid attention to that. You guys are savvy and paying attention to that. So I’m gonna ask one of these last questions, which is what we expect to see from LPO Diapers. This year in 2021. Like, so if this podcast is coming out in July? What’s happened? Okay, perfect.
David, La Petite Ourse 21:09
Okay, well, well, by the time this comes out, I presume the news will be out. So it’s not going to be a huge secret that my wife will say, why did you say this on national television. But still, it’s a great podcast. Okay, we are actually bringing, stepping up a notch in creating eco friendly diapers. And we’re starting a new collection of diapers, where the fabric is coming from recycled plastic. So each diaper is actually the equivalent of two recycled plastic bottles. So so we’re going to be focusing a lot on that, hopefully, maybe one day only offering that to our clients, we’ve ran the tests, the tests have been phenomenal. So we’re just going to run with it, the prints are going to be beautiful. And of course, the packaging is going to change a bit. And we also want to sponsor an international organization that takes care of the environment, I will tell you at a later date.
Bailey Bouwman 22:04
So we’re gonna make sure we follow LPO. And you have multiple channels, right? You’ve got different ones for each of your audiences. Exactly.
David, La Petite Ourse 22:13
Of course. Of course, our home base is Canada. So So our first our first batch is going to Canada. But but it’s already it’s already ordered for the US and the UK as well. So so by the fall in all markets, we should have that new client,
Bailey Bouwman 22:29
you’ll so you’ll be one of you’ll be the first as far as I know, in Canada bringing recycled plastic bottle p well to market but we’ve also seen it I think thots has an assembly has it and somebody else. But my understanding is that the plastic is spun into a fiber that spun into the textile, but the textile still needs to be coated.
David, La Petite Ourse 22:53
It’s Yeah, it’s still it’s still it’s still the PUL. So it’s the manufacturing process of polyester. So in this case, yeah, part of the the plastic beads that are made from the plastic itself will be transformed into into the fabric itself. Yeah. I’m not I’m not a specialist, I’m
Bailey Bouwman 23:15
trying to pick everybody’s brain that I get on the show about it because I’m trying to make sure that I understand it properly. That’s my oil to begin with. So we’re we’re kind of like, we’re reducing that step. We’re just we’re taking something that’s already been made into a plastic and spinning it. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And I never know who knows more. So you never know, maybe a specialist on it. You seem to know a lot.
David, La Petite Ourse 23:41
No interesting thing. By the time it actually hits the ground, which is like a bit less than two months. The whole team is gonna be briefed on exactly what the answer. Yeah, exactly. Because that’s gonna be coming out for sure. So it’s really fun. You have to like, like, as a business owner, and just like as a person, you have to adapt, you have to change and that’s, that’s what just makes you you know, stay vibrant and stay alive. Yeah, so our company’s always trying to, you know, figure new stuff out there. You have no idea of course you do. But we learn like every day it’s ridiculous and we’re gonna get a really fast pace. This is just one of the one example of
Bailey Bouwman 24:23
this these were recycled plastic fibers is is I definitely seeing the uptake of it and it’s really exciting to hear of another brand, bringing it on and learning more about it as an option for us because the textile industry because it’s just is so challenging as it is environmentally
David, La Petite Ourse 24:43
now know exactly, exactly. There’s already at least you know, cloth diapers, I already had that eco friendly, you know, can know when impact. And again, this is just just speaking even more, an even bigger difference in Competing against disposables at this point. Yeah.
Bailey Bouwman 25:03
Did you have anything else you wanted to add? We’ve been chatting for about half an hour. Anything else I talked about you just told me to stop talking. You’re a fast talker, so just shares so much of your passion. It’s so exciting. One of my favorite things about doing this podcast is getting to talk to brands, like he talks about baby shows. And so it’s pretty awesome, especially in the era of a pandemic to talk to another adult today. Yeah, and to kind of hear your story. There’s so much passion here. Why am I my sister lives in Quebec and I have been there now four times, and I am going to stumble over it again. La Petite Ourse?
David, La Petite Ourse 25:47
Yes. Oh, you can say lpo by the way. Even in Quebec, when people are writing it out, like on Facebook.
Bailey Bouwman 25:55
We people don’t even people don’t write out anything. When we you know, it’s BC. It’s PC. It’s TB. Yeah,
David, La Petite Ourse 26:02
it’s definitely become an lpo. So I forgot to mention that at the first step of starting the interview, but what
Bailey Bouwman 26:09
is it? Is it OURSE?
David, La Petite Ourse 26:12
It’s a baby bear? Basically, it’s it. Ourse, it’s a bear. So it’s also a little different constellation. So it was kind of born out of both those worlds but La Petite Ourse is a baby here. I am so
Bailey Bouwman 26:25
I just think of it as lpo all the time LPO I don’t even I didn’t even think. And I always ask brands about their name, story origin. And even
David, La Petite Ourse 26:35
at the branded La Petite Ourse logo itself. The O is actually a baby bear. It’s actually a bear. You’ll see.
Bailey Bouwman 26:41
That’s why that’s why that word looks so familiar because I’ve probably heard of Little Dipper bear but I I only know cereal box French as West coaster. Box my job Exactly. Well, and it’s cool to hear you’re on the south side of Montreal. I’ll have to send you an email. Next time I’m in Granby, whenever 40 minutes away from Granby. Oh, yeah. Well, you have to fly into Montreal to get to my sister anyways. Most of the time out there. Well, it was awesome to chat with you, David. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your story. I know that there are so many more amazing news articles you guys have been covered so many different ways on the internet.
David, La Petite Ourse 27:26
Now even like most of it just organically just people saying hey, like good day going out on YouTube and writing blogs. I find that really fantastic. I love that and like our exposure, especially outside Quebec, that’s that’s what we like to see now. But but in retail stores, we’re in more and more retail stores across Canada, Nova Scotia this morning reached out to a retailer saying hey, you know, I want your products but it’s like a daily thing now. So it’s really, really fun.
Bailey Bouwman 27:50
Do you have retailers in the United States right now are you directly
David, La Petite Ourse 27:54
we have two online stores, southern US. One sells mostly in Mexico, which is pretty cool.
Bailey Bouwman 28:02
It’s actually a big market that I’ve been I need to explore more.
David, La Petite Ourse 28:05
A lot of people are telling us that not to be surprised if a lot of our sales go to the go to Mexico.
Bailey Bouwman 28:11
My my assistant is from Argentina, so she helps me with a lot of Latin America. There’s a growing cloth diaper market internationally. It’s just so annoying. We were looking at the stats for the global international diaper change like that that event that happens. I don’t know if you know what I’m talking about the gap. A couple of times I
David, La Petite Ourse 28:34
got and you see the traction it gets in Mexico It’s huge. And and and across Latin America,
Bailey Bouwman 28:39
India, Philippines. The international market is blowing up and it’s so cool. Yeah, it’s so cool. We’re having a lot of fun anyway, sounds like you’re alright, that was the last and final guest. If you’ve made it this far, just because I’m the type of person who boughs out as soon as the guest stops speaking I’m going to remind you that you should sign up for the cloth diaper podcast email newsletter, to let you know when the next podcast releases, as well as other fun giveaways and thingamabobs as well, if you’ve been thinking about being a guest on the podcast, right now, I’m in a little bit of a hiatus overwhelm. So check back in with me in a couple months because 2021 is full of the brim. I just need to sit down and edit the shows. We’ll also be doing a re newing of the introduction. So my most popular podcasts right now. Like some of my really early podcast episodes, and I’m super embarrassed by them. And so much I’ve learned over the last couple of years that I’d love to do a whole new intro to cloth 101 series. Anyways, we’ll see you on the internet. Bye