Cloth Diaper Podcast – Show 78

The Nappy Guru’s

Laura joins me to share her story behind the Nappy Gurus and this episode becomes a little less about cloth diapering, and a little about growing an amazing cloth nappy business. Sometimes we pivot, and it’s less about why and how of cloth diapering, and about overcoming challenges and finding new ways to advocate and empower others to cloth diaper.

Listen where you listen

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Show Transcription

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 2:45
Yeah. Holy side. Yeah. I’m Laura. And I’m the founder of The Cloth Nappy Guru’s. And I actually, I actually set up the company in 2008. So been around for quite a bit of time. And I originally set it up and the business was set up with …., which is the old route to do websites. And then then the Cloth Nappy Guru’s emerged in 2000 everthing, originally, and then we relaunched in 2019 with a whole new website and a new team. And yes, it’s been exciting. novomatic always is our leading site leading company and leading brand.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 3:30
You have a really big team, I was on your website, you have a lot of people helping you behind the scenes. What is that? What does that feel like? Did you ever expect your business to get that big?

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 3:41
Oh, no. I mean, it was setup actually got into cloth nappies, and my daughter was born i in America. So um, I started using cloth diapers, and I was very much involved in the cloth diaper community, and I absolutely loved it. Yes, this is amazing. to the UK, I was like, Oh my god, I just really want to bring some of that enthusiasm and passion back with me. And that’s what I did. I set up the business. Originally, this is running from home with my young daughter. And just yeah, I guess the passion just drove business as much as I was passionate about the products themselves. And together now we’ve got a team of 14 here at our headquarters. And then we’ve got over 20, nappy Guru team members who are all over the UK, and we’ve got a couple of international brews around Europe as well. And we’re working really hard together. They’re a great team. And yeah, just just working hard lifting everything we use or anyway.

Bailey Bouwman 4:53
Yeah, it’s, I think here in the United States, we’re not seeing that big size operation. anymore. So when I popped over to your website today, and I looked at your team, I was just I was gobsmacked. I was like, This is huge. So I guess my question is like, I feel from my perspective here in Canada that the international community, especially in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK for cloth nappies, is massive, is that is that like, Oh, am I getting that? Right? Is it a lot of mainstream in the UK? Are we seeing a lot of families cloth napping? What’s that? look like for you?

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 5:35
Yeah, it is getting there. And I mean, it is, you know, it is slowly which, as you would expect, but that we have past few years, we have seen a new type of parents come into the bottom of the world. And there is people are giving them a go. I know, I agree with you, UK and Australia, I think, are really leading the way, I think at the minute which is, which applies in the UK, because we’re such a tiny island. And then we’ve had we’re,

Bailey Bouwman 6:14
maybe, maybe that’s the perception as well, like, you guys are a tiny island. And so of course, there’s gonna be a lot of people talking about things. But

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 6:24
yeah, but it’s the community’s really, really passionate and really, really supportive. And we’ve got, we, as always, we work closely with the Cloth Nappy Alliance. So we’re members of of that. So which I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Alliance, but there is a lot of retailers brands all coming together supporting each other for the greater good, that is promoting our families and helping them to become more mainstream. So we do a lot of political lobbying, reach out to media, which is really important. And you know, there’s no point of trying to reinvent the wheel ourselves, you may as well come together and work. And that really just happen to know that’s really powerful. And,

Bailey Bouwman 7:12
yeah, I’ve heard that from a couple of European I had chatted with Baba and Boo. Yes, she mentioned the same thing. And I chatted with Gail from Charlie Banana. And she also really credited the Cloth Nappy Alliance for a lot of really important work. And so that’s something like is happening in my DM’S and my conversations right now, with American and Canadian brands, how can we bring us back here in North America, because we don’t have a national, the real diaper Association kind of collapsed a couple of years ago, and so we don’t have anybody lobbying at a national level for Canada or the United States. I definitely can see why that would be advantageous.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 7:50
Absolutely Yeah, I mean, obviously, as I said, like, my, my experience began in the USA. And obviously, I’m very out of touch with things over that side now. But yeah, yeah, I’d be interested to sort of have a have a look into that. I’m in the like, some of the companies that I remember when I set up the companies that I used to shop with in America, I don’t think they’re going anymore, because the markets really changed.

Bailey Bouwman 8:19
But here I go. I was looking, I accidentally first went to the nappy ladies website, and then I was looking at the about page and I was like, oh, there’s no Laura. So I must be on the wrong one. So I brought up our email again, and I was like, but they’ve also been around for a long time and I chat with Bambino Mio with Laura over Bambino Mio. They’ve been around. There’s a lot of really old heavy hitters in the UK, which is really great for an industry because that stabilization is just so important. What has been like one of the biggest changes that you’ve seen in your cloth nappy experience over the last 13 years from when you’ve started your business to where you are now.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 8:56
Ye ah, there has been a lot of changes. I don’t suppose you kind of notice the next thing specifically as the kind of evolves. But But yeah, I guess it is, it is quite a different, a different world now. I mean, there are a lot of brands and a lot of range of brands. So as you say you’ve got the likes of Bambino Spots and Tots Bots, such a huge huge companies. And then, particularly in the last sort of 18 months, really, I guess, when COVID started to hit with, you know, a lot of new brands popping up market. So yeah, there’s just a lot going on at the minute and there’s like a whole sort of modern styles of nappies, you know, with the new stores and, you know, chic chic prints and colorways and that’s kind of that’s kind of where it’s going and the time we used to see when a new print came out. Oh, oh my god. I used to buy these prints and then they were being sold on for hundreds of pounds and that side of it. Has has changed. And we don’t see that so much anymore. It has stabilized quite a lot, because I think there is so many new 7070 brands and so many designs coming out all the time. It’s kind of saturated that side of things, which I guess is probably a good thing. And yeah,

Bailey Bouwman 10:19
I remember that that era I grew up, I grew up, I grew up, I started cloth diapering in 2015, when the height of the bum genius lineup was really in the bum genius Rainbow was really prominent. And so I remember seeing all of this kind of happening. I think it’s so good, though, for the industry for motherhood, like I got so caught up in that it was not good for my postpartum anxiety, it was not good for my postpartum shopping. I love seeing this kind of like stabilization and increase of options. But also at the same time I have so hard, difficult book, I have a hard time because when someone comes to me, and they’re like, what diapers Should I try? I’m like, here’s a list of seven brands that are all very similar. And you could just pick any of them and they would work great. Which can be very overwhelming to somebody as a new mom, or a new parent.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s11:08
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And it’s, you know, as magical is completly independent, you know, we’re not affiliated with any one brand. And they’re interested in starting your own brand or anything like that. So we obviously get contacted by all of the new brands that pop up. And you do have to as much as it’s great to support a lot of small and independent brands, we do have to draw a line. And that is mainly as you say, for the customers perspective, it’s not good to overwhelm, it’s clearly already good enough, when you start out you don’t need two people by the 50 different pocket, one size pocket copies. And so you know, you have to strike that balance. And I’m asking that we we do do that. And that’s definitely similar. It’s in my mind all the time, keeping things fresh and new and exciting, but not overwhelming.

Bailey Bouwman 12:01
And so it’s so challenging. I know, I consulted with a baby boutique the other day and she was like, what brands that I bring in and I’m just like, Ah, okay, let’s started putting on a different thinking cap and try and think about stability on who has the best support for her as a retailer and so many different levels to ensuring that her brand would have success with a nappy brand. What has been kind of your biggest challenge over the last decade as a cloth nappy retailer, maybe something that you’ve challenged and overcome or something that you’re still struggling with?

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 12:33
Yeah, well, I mean, that how how much your your listenership will relate to it, but Brexit, huge challenge for us. We say we, UK has left the European Union. And we just feel like the UK has become quite isolated.

Bailey Bouwman 12:51
Yeah, that was a super nice strategy. I think people understand too, because I I’ve heard that off from other other retailers and other industries that Brexit was a headache and a half.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 13:06
It’s not a good thing. And yeah, so our international our international sales has been a challenge and continues to be times that we just want to keep tabs out to the same people in the UK, there’s so many more people who need my help, and we want to be able to meet so many as a real real challenge and an ongoing one. And I guess, also, I guess going back to the whole getting that balance, you know, there’s so many so many things that we could do and so many things that I want to do to keep things fresh and it’s also that talent have to have a focus on accepting that we can’t do everything. Like that’s that’s more of a general business. Business challenge, you know, you want to do everything and I

Bailey Bouwman 13:55
want to do I want to do everything I absolutely want to do everybody but i can’t i burn out hard, you have to sometimes draw a line. So what do you think about who you are in the cloth nappies sector, then what? What do you What’s your brand’s identity, then? What do you want to be? Or where do you want to go in five years?

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 14:15
Yeah, so I guess our real quick is, is our routine. And that’s sort of everything that we are out. So you know, the team that we’ve gathered our you know, we’ve got such great expertise and in real niche areas as well as mapping. So if we get a query, we know exactly who it’s going to go to, and we know exactly who’s going to be able to help. And that’s sort of who we are really, and, you know, we we put a lot of time and effort into our website and making sure that is as soon as possible. I’m not trying to overwhelm, overwhelm people keeping costs as simple as we can, while providing the ration that people need.

Bailey Bouwman 15:00
So you so you have, okay, let you have the nappy gurus has like a set of women or I gurus maybe any parent parents throughout the UK and Europe. And if somebody comes to you with a struggle, you try to connect them with a parent who might be best suited.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s15:19
Yeah, yeah, we do. So yeah, we offer like personalized recommendations that are answered by our team. And sort of pre COVID a lot of the team were doing a lot of face to face outreach and demonstrations. And a lot of our team will work with local council authorities swell in their area, to the micro libraries, working with the council to promote lending kits, and they’re some of them will have what cashback and voucher schemes. And that’s that’s an area that I really want to try to grow more obviously, with cutbacks, a lot of councils when I when we’re not going to promote our families anymore. And so that’s, that’s an area that I really love my time into, and, and really want to help bring back. I think it’s really important.

Bailey Bouwman 16:13
That sounds so important, I think about so many of the conversations that I’ve had in North America lately about returning to grassroots kind of conversations and getting back into the communities and getting back to that one to one. That is such an incredible model, Laura, to really have that one to one connection, there’s nothing worse than I might have the other day someone emailed me and I was like, I don’t know how to answer your question. So what I did was find another influencer, who I knew was in that space, but for you as a brand to be able to connect them and know who to connect them with. And that could be a local person that is so advantageous such an incredible need, I think for that and probably a sign of why we see so much strength in the UK nappy system.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 16:59
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it is, it is important and, and it’s so valuable.

Bailey Bouwman 17:06
Yeah, that first first months of motherhood is just can be very daunting to be able to get to get an email from a local mom to be like, well, this is how I solved my problem, or this is how these are few ideas that might work for us in our region. Like, that would just be so impactful.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 17:24
Absolutely. And I think, you know, with no team haven’t been able to do sort of that face to face outreach with with the COVID situation. Obviously, if you think about parents that have had babies during this time, and they are so isolated, for them to be able to reach out on a video call or telephone and you know, our our customer service HQ, you know will have will take telephone calls and the modems just just want to chat and you know, they might want to chat about nappies, but they also want to tap stuck at home on their own and, and we’ll have telephone conversations that go on for an hour. You know, we’re here, and we want to help and we will listen. And so yeah, it is important, and we do our best to help reach out to, to members when they need us as much as as much as we can.

Bailey Bouwman 18:17
Yeah. Every now and then I feel like I get this question from people on the internet of why should I even bother shopping with a cloth diaper retailer, or, or a brand directly? And like that? That’s the answer. That’s why because it’s another mom on the line. And you never know what’s going to happen. And sometimes you just need, you just need somebody, and you need somebody besides your best friend, you need somebody who maybe is a little bit different and can help listen. I just I hear this story so many times from brands, you’re not the only one and I just I love it every single time it brings me sleep all watery. Always. So if people are ever like Why should I shop with a navegar? Is that’s why my I think this is a great time to kind of go into my next question. I kind of thrown some questions about you in the business world because a lot of my listeners are business related. And a lot of times I do kind of want to strengthen this business in North America. And I think that the UK and I think that New Zealand are doing great job. So I thought I would pick your brain and ask you, what do you what type of advice to have for somebody starting their own cloth diaper business or retailer today? from somebody who’s got 10 years worth of experience in this industry? What would you tell them? Yeah, I

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 19:38
mean, I guess my I guess my advice now would possibly look a little bit different to maybe two years ago. Because there is I don’t know if this is the case, the case in in America and Canada. I’m not sure but as I said there has been such a huge surge of new brands and Retailers into the market. And which is great. But I know that a lot of them are going to end up getting lost and won’t succeed. So I guess, I guess my advice now would be to really think about what are the differences with with the product or with, with the brand. And, and, and reaching out, like, really thinking about how you’re going to reach people and connecting with the rest of the existing plus market community. And I do think a lot of them are going to get lost,

Bailey Bouwman 20:40
which would be a shame, I was gonna say that everybody who comes into the market, they all have their own special opportunity to connect with a section of the consumers that somebody else can’t connect with, I think every blogger who comes in, they’re going to be able to connect with people who don’t like me who don’t like my voice. But if they keep going after people who do like me, and my voice, does, nobody wins in that situation. So they really need to find that new blogger or that new brand, they really need to find out what their voice is and who the right person is, and identify that. And that will help strengthen us together as a core. I think that is kind of what I grasp. And I do worry that a lot of people are going to get lost. If they don’t if they spend too much time chasing the same people that we’re all chasing, and they don’t spend enough time finding the new demographic of cloth pads the unique position to get because of who they are.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 21:37
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we leave with ourselves, you know, sometimes, you know, on social media platforms like Instagram, sometimes shouting into an echo chamber, because you, you know, you’re telling all the same people how to for that reason, they’re using copies. And I have to bring myself back some time because I love it. I love that time. I love I love the marketing side of it. And social media, I really, really enjoy it. But I have to bring myself in sometimes things are right. Okay, let’s really think about what strategy is and Aaron. And and yeah, making sure that we’re reaching those new people and how and how we can best do that. In the

Bailey Bouwman 22:22
past. I consulted with somebody the other day, and it was just like, how do we? Yeah, how do we get those new people? I something? Yeah, I feel like I’m shouting into a void. And like we’re all saying the exact same thing together. Are we actually getting though? Like, am I getting the right people for this? Yeah, it can be really challenging, which is why I’m so in awe of kind of what you had chatted about earlier about your nappy gurus and them having library banks and getting in the community and doing political like, there. That is so awesome. And something that I’m trying to do, I’m trying to prioritize, I’m looking at going to conferences more, and I’m looking at getting at the farmers market more and getting like off the ground, focusing more time off social media so that I can find those new people, but it can feel very overwhelming sometimes because you’re like the grandmas so easy.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s23:15
So while it’s again, isn’t it’s doing it’s doing nice things, but it’s also doing other things, but also tiny. To do everything is not easy. Yeah, it’s there’s a lot going on. And you do have to juggle a lot of things. You know, my advice to anybody looking to doing going to market is to understand that it’s not easy, and it does take a lot of time, a lot of hard work. And you know, and I you know, I’ve got two children and my children are older now but and, you know, I do look back and I think, you know, I started the business with the iPad, no, bring it home with my babies, and do this alongside and then I look back and often at all, you know, my second time my son was here in the office in this big house, I was running around pipe everything. And yeah, I guess I did. I did probably miss out on on time with my filter because this became such a beast. And I guess you have to be prepared for that. You know, you’re gonna have to put time and work in if you want to get something out of it. Really?

Bailey Bouwman 24:37
Yeah, we I see that. I see that a lot. Definitely. Some of the brands were putting a lot of time to work and they they get a lot of the outcome. But what do you lose? What do you sacrifice as a result of that? I even like bloggers who look up to me at where I’m at, well, my kids are now four and six and they’re in school and so I get to dedicate time that I never had before to this and sometimes Making sure that you’re in check with what your actual life situation is, versus somebody who’s 10 years ahead of you and has all their kids in school and has different time and your brain doesn’t feel like it’s in postpartum fog anymore and put together pieces like you couldn’t before. Don’t compare yourself to where others are at. Absolutely. Highs. Great, great ice. Yes, we definitely have a lot of the same friends about what some of the things that you’ve mentioned here is happening in the UK that are happening in Canada and us we’d have the same resurgent resurgence, we have a growing number of new brands coming to the market since the pandemic started. Has the pandemic, the pandemic help your business out, did you find that you had a surge in nappy use along the way they

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 25:54
It was it was crazy. We went lockdown hit initially, and all the stuff, we’re at home and I was coming in with my children, my children were packing orders, my partner tried his orders, I had to go home, like you said, we saw this huge surge in demand, you know, the supermarket shelves were cleared of disposable nappies and a lot of people looking to start with reusables and we only had you know, we we have our warehouse for the stock, but nobody saw it coming. So we only had March and April, I mean, our warehouse was stripped cleared, and it was the orders were packed, why me and my daughter and my partner, and that was a really, really crazy time. But then, you know, we went through a period where we we couldn’t restock on on a lot of the lines right away because everything shut down. So you know, it was just this really strange, really strange times and you know, obviously we have seen that 30 out now you know and and orders have had studies and we’ve been able to to gauge the demand and level that out. But yeah, I mean, it’s the stick grow. Ultimately it did grow and and yeah, we’re looking at moving to a new practice now because we have completely outgrown my warehouse supervisor came up earlier. It’s a free delivery.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 27:36
But yeah, it’s just evolution and you just have to adapt and and just take take things as they come after we’ve had to do and, and we’ll continue to do that with whatever comes our way.

Bailey Bouwman 27:48
But yeah, hopefully. I mean, hopefully we don’t get a big maybe we refill the diaper industry. We win but we don’t have to deal with a lockdown again.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 27:57
Are you guys out of lockdowns, we have literally. Yeah, as of three days ago, restrictions he used. But I fully expecting it to go back really Winton’s? Because I’ll still be crazy here and we just can’t seem to get a grip on it. So no, it’s not really.

Bailey Bouwman 28:21
we’ve, we’ve just gone a whole month without a single case in my region. So I’m feeling pretty safe, maybe. Amazing. Right? But always anxious. Like if the US border opens, there’s all these things that you can’t control or something could happen. And making sure that you’re like adapt, be able to adapt again is sometimes always on top of mind. Well, we’ve been chatting for about a half hour here, Laura, it was fantastic chatting with you. Did you have anything else to add? Where can we find you? That might be my last question. Where can people if they want to shop with the nappy gurus, where do you ship and where can we find you on the internet?

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 29:05
Yes, so we do ship internationally. is our website where you have all that and then obviously we have a presence on social media on Instagram stories, Facebook stories, we have a Facebook community and in our in our Facebook group. And YouTube as well. We have an active channel So a lot of my team will film product reviews on there and really helpful insights into you know what that app is look like inside and nitty gritty so yeah, we value the video content very and we put a lot on the website as well. So if somebody comes across a personal message, they want more information, there is a video guide that they can have a quick look and see what’s going on. Cool.

Bailey Bouwman 29:58
That’s really helpful. You YouTube channel, um, because sometimes like, especially if you’re a new mom who can’t meet up with a mom, pictures are not enough. No need to like see what is going on I understand you do, and you how you guys carry, it looks like you’re a wide array of products. We’re not just talking nappies at the nappy, girls, we got eco periods, eco living clothing, so you could just go shopping and fill it up your heart’s content, you can buy everything for yourself. You don’t even have to worry about your baby.

Laura, The Cloth Nappy Guru’s 30:33
Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, chocolate is actually one of our bestsellers. People need an idea now sticking to chocolate. Because why no? Why not? Exactly.

Bailey Bouwman 30:44
I would do that. I think one of my favorite retailers, she started selling like little candies as well. It was like a great way to get to your free shipping threshold and get some sweets in there. Although it was super great chatting with you, Laura, getting a perspective on what’s going on with you and your business. I really like these opportunities to learn because I think, yeah, as a community, there’s a lot of things that I watch you guys doing in the UK that are so amazing. And if I could start my own business, I would with your model like that is just incredible. I love those. I love that girl model like I love connecting people one on one. And I really hope that other people, other businesses could really embrace that. I think it’s such a win for moms. And thanks for making me tear up today. And I hope that you have a good afternoon. Are you listening to the show in the Edit? I’m thinking maybe it’s time I rebrand the cloth diaper podcast. So many of these conversations with brands and retailers have been less about their story and more about their business experience. How are they thriving, striving and surviving? In a global pandemic? Or in a cutthroat world? Why is it that the cloth community is cutthroat? I have thoughts on that. But those thoughts I will keep to myself and publish air on a big national podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today on the cloth diaper podcast. I know that these episodes like this, were a little bit less about empowering you to cloth diaper and a little more about maybe running a business and cloth diaper businessing businessing altogether. But I never know where you guys are at some of you listening to the show, you might be moms who had businesses before. Or you might be moms looking to start a new business. I thought labor industry is such a weird niche. And we can learn from each other whether or not we’re going to be opening our own Fitness Studio, or we’re thinking about starting our own retail shop. There’s so much potential right now for community base plot library. I think I’ve said that so much. If you think you think you could host a course at your library, if you think that you could reach out to a local midwife. If you think that you could show up at the farmers market and host a table for your diaper bank near you, then you should do those. I want everybody listening to the show, to know that the information and the knowledge that they have is worthy and that they are capable of sharing what they know. Which is funny because I have so much imposter syndrome. It’s not even funny. But thank you so much for joining me today on our podcast and I will go see you on Instagram.

Transcribed by

Previous Epidsodes