Cloth Diaper Podcast – Show 81

Buffalo  Baby Bums

Timea & I sat down to chat about her cloth diaper business, but I think this show evolved into a conversation about two people in the cloth diaper industry to find their place in the world.  

Time is the owner of a diaper service in the Buffalo area, she is focused on sustainability and creating products that support families. We talk about some of the challenges of the industry, and creating, and doing the things we want to do.

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Show Transcription

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  01:35

So well basically I started three years ago here in Buffalo because I wanted a cloth diaper service. And you know, I didn’t want to deal with washing of the diapers, but I really, really wanted to cloth diaper and there was nothing around. So like any other you know, insane new mom, I was like, Well, obviously I’m going to start one.

 

Bailey Bouwman  01:55

I don’t want to wash the diapers, but I’m going to start my own diaper service. I don’t think we normally go down that path.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  02:03

Oh no, but I am definitely Yeah, that’s that’s my mom I guess. I kind of laugh about the irony to

 

Bailey Bouwman  02:12

just like do we all recognize?

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  02:14

Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’m like one big irony is like I was born in Slovakia. So I’m an immigrant. And I ended up being an English teacher. And I actually ended up being the valedictorian of my graduating class in college. And that was one big irony too. Like I came here without knowing a word. And I’m about to teach a bunch of people English. So like, that’s pretty fun. But so anyways, that’s how I got my start. And you know, it’s been slow. I started out with one customer, one family, basically word of mouth. And now it’s three years down the road. And like you said, I’ve been thinking about starting a brand. And I do have a diaper balm and it’s called poop I do Bob.

 

Bailey Bouwman  03:09

Repeat that. The name Yeah, the poop  Yeah, solid name choice. So

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  03:18

here’s familiar with the term dupa. No, it means but basically, I’m calling it a poopy butt cream. But dupa is bought in Polish and sebagian. And here in Buffalo, we have a huge Polish population. So it’s kind of like an homage to the population here and to my own roots. And I just noticed, you know, what

 

Bailey Bouwman  03:40

brings it together makes sense down.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  03:42

Exactly. And I like that it’s a finger fingerless application because like, as a new parent, when you’re outside, you’re wiping your kids, but you know, you really don’t want to be putting the cream on with your fingers. Because they have to wash your hands and becomes a really big mess. So buying other brands doing it out there. It’s just like all of them are plastic. So I actually started working with a factory over in China to get these eco containers. And I worked with a local Brett brand trying to do it. They could only finally these push, like you push it up from the bottom. Like those type of containers. I don’t know if you’re familiar like me, but

 

Bailey Bouwman  04:24

like, like go where you lick them? Like the candies whistles calm. Yeah,

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  04:29

yeah. Yeah. And then I just the product ended up coming from the bottom. So actually, the factory has these twist up. And then inside is a little bit of plastic but it’s recycled plastic. So I was able to come up with something that kind of covered all of that and right now it’s just you know, really within my customer base, and I have I think you know, Kylie in Utah. She’s cloth diaper mom on Instagram. It’s been tough road, especially with brands, I’m sure you know, you’re getting bombarded like everyone. I feel like everyone and their mom is coming out with a cloth diaper brand today. I don’t know how you feel about that.

 

Bailey Bouwman  05:11

So a lot of times I feel like I only you, it’s probably because you’re in it cuz I’m just like, oh, there’s not a lot going on in the industry. And then somebody will be like there is and I’ll be like, Oh, I didn’t see all that happening. There are a lot of I guess that is you are there are a lot of people coming up. But I think there’s always space for more because there’s the hardest thing with cloth diapering is marketing. And a lot of people successfully do it on a very small guerilla style scale guerilla style. I meant like guerilla marketing, like rounds, the green grounds up, yeah, there’s like a lot out there. Because for a while, like 2020 2019 to 2020, I talked to a lot of like new brands brand new, just launching kind of, I guess where you are. And then a lot of them are doing really well this year. And then there’s even more coming up. But then there’s also brands that are like fading. It’s like this life cycle, like knuckles just kind of faded off. She’s got a seven and eight year old and she was just kind of like, I’m just gonna focus on these other things. And so yeah, I think like, it’s a little bit of a cycle, you know, like one in one out? That might be kind of how I kind of see it a lot of times. But it can be really hard, because there’s a lot of noise. Yeah, I

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  06:37

guess that’s what I’m starting to feel on that. And it’s been a little discouraging, like, why kind of even start, you know, so I’m trying my, my main concern is to listen to my customers, because I have this class vapor service and kind of, you know, just like how I started the service, what’s the problem? What’s the need? And can I come up with a solution? So my big focus was on nighttime solutions, because I’m sure you and I both know, like a lot of parents are scared to call Saber, especially at night. Yes. And there’s a lot of leaks and a lot of issues and stuff like that. So I’m actually beta testing zorb booster made with zorb fabric right now. That’s been working really well. So like Kylie, who was testing it out for me, she had it in a pre flat and she said it absorbed all of the urine there. And the pre flat was dry, which was really cool. So I have a couple of things like that. And I hope that like that way I can, you know, find some way and just the organic way. Just listen to what what people need right now.

 

Bailey Bouwman  07:47

And a lot of what was I who had I talked to? I talked to a mom who’s like an influencer. And she’s just been, she’s been doing cloth diaper courses with her local doula. And I was just thinking that that kind of Yes, super community based education and involvement is something that’s sometimes missing on a hyper local scale. And there’s a lot of room for growth. Because when you start going on like Instagram, and you get it on a national and international level, it feels very convoluted. Yeah, and sometimes I’m following and I don’t even know I guess that’s I also don’t really know who’s keeping up with all the brands and who’s who and what’s what,

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  08:33

well, I feel like you’re doing a really good job. Like I know, you’ve been working on the flow chart and stuff like that to help parents find like what may be their best fit, but I teach like so I teach these classes to in my local community, honestly, I just end up saying like, you’re gonna end up with a mix of everything. That’s probably the best. Like you’re not gonna probably not gonna find the one brand or the one type of diaper that you really really love. Some people do, but I feel like you need like multiple for different situations.

 

Bailey Bouwman  09:04

Yeah, somebody always on Facebook, somebody will tag me when like a mom in our local group asked what’s the best cloth diaper and I’m just like I don’t know. This is you can’t This is an impossible question. What? What’s best for you? Yeah, man. Can we go into it deeper? Like what are you looking for? Why don’t you Yeah, anyways, I could see why you’re like feeling that struggle. I think a lot of brands especially small brands feel that way. So you just kind of make a name for yourself. So this poopa dupa stag the sounds fun. Well, what what inspired you to create the cloth? What like, do you have any background in making creams?

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  09:47

Is that a little bit about my background and they started working with this local group called nickel city alchemy and they make really great stuff. They focus on magnesium type things. So they have like called like, little buffalo sleepy balm and supposed to help you like six months enough to sleep. And so I went to them first like, Hey, can we come up? You know, with the stick together, there were just a lot of issues. And so I started looking into like manufacturing which opens up this whole, like, whole, like how do people even find this stuff like with factories? And then do I need to bring the packaging? Like it was nuts. So I started like calling and emailing companies on the back of products. I even contacted grovia Hey guys, like would you do you make other products? Know, of course, we only make our own. So I started looking into the legalities of it. And I have a friend who’s a lawyer as well. And basically, you know, that’s, that’s the main thing is like, first of all, I’m interested in natural products. So it’s not like a great deal of chemistry isn’t pop, it’s really just formulating in your kitchen. And that’s that’s what it came down to. And that’s what most people did. So it was me standing at my stove, looking up recipes, like from different blogs and ingredients that were important to me. So like bentonite clay is one of the main ingredients. Yeah, really like I focused on that I wanted to incorporate and it was finding the right consistencies because it can be like little grainy, and it needed to be cloth diaper safe. So what I did, and it came out really awesome. People liked it. And I I’m putting it out there. I tried to get myself insured. But whenever it comes to babies, people get really crazy. And it would cost me like half of my busy get it insured on a yearly basis. So

 

Bailey Bouwman  11:41

Oh yeah,

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  11:42

there’s just like, red tape after it. But I love the product. And my customers love it. And so I’m just kind of keeping a local and I know last time we spoke over email, I had this whole plan like, is going to be a I

 

Bailey Bouwman  11:55

feel like we had it has been so long since we emailed that I was like, Where are you even at with all of these plans that you had?

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  12:05

Yeah, so honestly, like, I just trust in, in the formula. And I hopefully trust in the goodwill of people that that order it. And then my testers like obviously I tested it on my kids and then the people who I sent it out to, and I’m just keeping it small scale for now. And trust. Like if it’s a good product, it’s gonna do its thing at some point, you know?

 

Bailey Bouwman  12:29

So what’s the goal behind the product? Like what’s it designed for? Like any specific type of rash general use what’s Yeah, general use? So

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  12:37

honestly, I was like, What can I use that’s cloth diaper safe. That’s kind of like sink. But it’s not sink. Because when people hear about zinc, they get freaked out when it comes to cloth diapers. And I know that there’s like different camps on it. Like some people will say it’s fine. And some people are like, never, ever use this. I didn’t really want to go down that route. So I was like, what kind of like zinc with the same like force, but it’s not going to scare people away to use it on cloth diapers. So what’s just as healing. And then Honestly, I just hated the plastic. Because that’s that’s what I’m in this for, is to be more sustainable and all the other bombs and stuff. Were just coming in plastic containers. Most of them

 

Bailey Bouwman  13:20

a lot of it. Hey, I just like trying to think I guess so my local salt company comes in like a little tin company. And then the other one that I used a lot is okay, that’s the only one and then everything else is pretty plasticky.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  13:34

Yeah, yeah. So that’s my goal with that, like so these products come in recyclable containers or plastic free containers. And eventually, locally, I’d love to have a refillary where like, people can come in with these guides on they can get them, you know, refilled for discount and help along or planet Earth.

 

Bailey Bouwman  13:53

Yeah, that would be how big is buffalo?

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  13:58

Okay, so I know it’s as big as the city where I was born in Slovakia. Okay, so it’s like 256,000. So,

 

Bailey Bouwman  14:07

I live in a city of 80,000 people. So it’s big. For my perspective. That’s what I was trying to figure figure what your, what your size was. So a quarter million and there’s a bigger surrounding areas. So you’ve been doing you you’re working on this cream, you’re doing your service, you’re having bigger dreams. Why did you Why did you consider cloth diapering you consider cloth diapering in the first place? Because

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  14:37

I mean, so I think by now you figured out that I’m pretty person. I like doing things that are different. And that was my first draw to it. It’s like it’s not something that everybody was doing. It was something cool grabbed my interest. And then honestly, the biggest reason which is interesting because I am sustainably minded was the money. Yes, I was like I want to do as much They can to save money for my family. And that’s, that’s twice looking into

 

Bailey Bouwman  15:06

gotcha. And then so today how many families do you serve with your diaper service?

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  15:11

So it’s been tough during the pandemic I I doubled this year so last year had a more than doubled so but it’s still not a lot in my opinion. Last year, I had six families. This year I had I went up to 14, and now I’m back to like, nine. So

 

Bailey Bouwman  15:29

So how are you navigating your diaper service? Do you just do it in your home? Do you have a commercial facility probably not the second one.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  15:36

Well, so the first like year and a half or so I did it in my basement and I ended up getting cited to set the washing machines to set a dryer so I was doing everything by myself with a newborn I just couldn’t find anything like local because I wanted to outsource to a laundry which I actually now have when I got pregnant with my second I found a small like mom and pop shop that’s a commercial laundry and I dropped everything off there once a week to get laundry really helped out and I also

 

Bailey Bouwman  16:11

that’s like a cool collaboration to yes cuz I know the local laundromat here in town. They tried to offer a diaper service but I don’t think they had the right marketing the right connections, the right people to kind of do it and so when one you can partner up as your own business with an established reputation,

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  16:32

yeah, it was really good because the I don’t know how I missed them the first time but I did call buncha laundries, even like, laundries and hospitals and stuff to see if they would take me on. And a lot of people were really averse to, you know, handling poop, obviously, and they were like, Oh, it’s gonna smell up the place and stuff like that. So I was glad I ended up finding them. And then I this past March, I found a stay at home mom to do the driving is to grow the business. Yeah. And I call it my mom to mom program. So anyone that like I ever employ or work with is another mom who wants extra money. Basically thinking about like, getting going to a brick and mortar is I actually started talking to her about partnering together. So

 

Bailey Bouwman  17:20

yeah, there we go, like coming together again, more people

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  17:25

than that community aspect is I recently started talking with the founder of every bottom covered, which is the local diaper bank here, they only do disposable, so I wanted to contact them to provide a cloth option. And she’s really excited. So she basically wants to partner with me. And we’re in the like, first stages, they’re expanding to the next eight counties, like local counties in our area is the honestly, that was our biggest issue because I I used to partner with the cloth option, and I was the local drop off location for them. But I don’t I haven’t reached out to them, per se, but I don’t think they’ll want to continue on if because we’re gonna be working on keeping it local. Right. And they’re a national organization. So I don’t know how they would feel about that. But pretty much exactly what we’re talking about. So I would be offering free education. So it’s not just making these kits for the families, but teaching them how to use them.

 

Bailey Bouwman  18:24

And so you can also connect it to Jake’s diapers because Jake’s is now

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  18:27

Yeah, I yeah, I have been trying to reach them. But so Razia is her name’s The one who runs the diaper bank here. She said that they’re still kind of small scale. So I haven’t heard back yet. But like you said, they’re probably pivoting right now. So they have a lot on their plate. My

 

Bailey Bouwman  18:43

goal for the flats and hand washing challenge this year is to bring I’ve got a meeting with I’ve got an interview scheduled with Katie Steinmetz from Jake’s diapers and Megan from Milwaukee and a few other. So bring some of these really cool projects that are happening that I know about, but like, connect you, you froze on me, what’s been the hardest thing about, about being a mama entrepreneur about starting a business as a woman? I know, we already talked a lot about a lot of different challenges. But is there anything that was like, that’s been really challenging in the role of mom and business owner?

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  19:19

So I don’t know. You know, I mean, we’ve talked about perception. So this this could be like, just my perception, but honestly, for me as people believing in me, probably is the hardest thing like, I’m sure everyone can talk about what a juggle it is and you know, you have to manage, you know, I also teach part time and run this service and I have my two kiddos and try to be a wife and sure, like it’s a juggle, but honestly, it’s it’s the belief like it’s when people don’t ask you Hey, how’s your business? Or if people say like, oh, how’s your little hobby or like, things like that? You know, and that can be really demoralizing. You think it’s because

 

Bailey Bouwman  20:03

it’s cloth diapering? Like if you had started any other business? I don’t,

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  20:10

I don’t know, honestly, a lot of people have been looking down on it because being an entrepreneur is not like, you’re not going to have guaranteed security. And I think that that’s probably the number one thing that’s been really hard for me. And even right now, there’s a lot of pressure like, you know, don’t quit your day job day teacher use, there’s so much security, you know, what feature you’re going to have, versus like, I’m so passionate about this. And there’s so many aspects to this business. I just need, I need those chill cheerleaders. I need that support network of people. And honestly, that’s probably been the biggest struggle.

 

Bailey Bouwman  20:52

Does your husband support you? Do you have a partner? I do. Yes. He does. But it wasn’t an enthusiastic Yes.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  21:04

It’s not. That’s what I’m saying. It would be 100 times easier if I had someone who would be like, do it. Gotcha. Go for it. I’m behind you all the way. And it’s kind of like, well, I, you have the freedom to do what you want to do. And I will be there behind you. And, and I trust him that if I fail, he’s not gonna say I told you so. But it’s not like, rah, rah, you got this.

 

Bailey Bouwman  21:28

Yeah, that’s a can be really hard. Really hard. I have friends who have experienced similar things. And sometimes when I feel like I say that what I do even in social media or comms, it’s like, not super respected. And people will kind of give you a funny eye and just assume that you can do a lot of other things as well. Like, it’s like it’s a job. It’s a job that requires time. I need time. Thanks.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  21:55

Yeah, but yeah, exactly. But you know, I get this boost of confidence, like whenever I do teach a class, or I can help out a family with cloth diapering. That really amps me out, like I even met with VP of our local bank here. And, and he was like, you’re not a startup anymore. You’re a business and just to go. So. You know, so that that’s been pushing me to keep going. And then even like, with the new venture, and I mentioned compostable diapers,

 

Bailey Bouwman  22:30

I saw that you’re in the list. And I was like, but she wasn’t brought up at all. So I’m just gonna.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  22:36

Yeah, I mean, we don’t we don’t have to, that’s a whole nother thing. But you know, just these new things, they helped me go and just the promise of like, I could be supporting these communities that was always from day one, a part of my business plan was, was the non for profit aspect. Like, not everyone can afford this. Not everyone can do this. Not everyone has access to an education on this. And that was always a part of it. Always.

 

Bailey Bouwman  23:06

Yeah, you, um, you have a lot of different projects on the go, Hey, do you ever feel like you just need to pick one?

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  23:18

Yes, and, and I, I’ve been listening to how I built this podcast. For it’s an NPR podcast. And it’s basically all about entrepreneurs and how they build their businesses. And they say like, the biggest demise of a business is, you know, spreading yourself too thin and trying to do too many different things at once. So I have been paring back. And that’s partly why like the prusa dupa line, I’ve kind of took a step back and let it be more organic. And I’m focusing more on the cloth diaper service to my community, and then the collaboration with the diaper bank. Yeah. So those are my two picks.

 

Bailey Bouwman  24:00

Really, and that was like for me this year, and hiring help helped out as well, like, Yeah, because otherwise I was just too I also have a lot of different passions. And I have a really hard time with that. Picking ideas. Yeah, I like to do them all. Sometimes you’ve got to I’ve got to check out that podcast. I wrote it down here. So do you have my last will ask the last question. We’ll we’ll have to do a follow up podcast in a year or two and see what you decided to be your one piece of advice for any new moms listening who are thinking about starting their own cloth diaper business, because I have three emails in my inbox and I’m like, I think I’m the wrong person.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  24:46

For how to start. Find your networking group. That was probably the biggest thing that helped me so there is actually a Facebook group for People with cloth diaper services, awesome cross across the US. And they have like this Google Doc of like all emails and names and stuff like that connect with those people and talk to those people. They all want to share that we all it’s just it’s a supportive non drama group. And that’ll help you learn from other people’s experiences so that you don’t have to make mistakes and find out for yourself.

 

Bailey Bouwman  25:26

Yes. And that’s like been a huge thing I’ve been learning in the last like three months, I got a new got a couple new job offers. And it’s been the biggest thing has been like networking. And like, just sending that email and being like, hey, and people are usually really nice. And they’re just like, hey, because they’re also like, I’ve been looking for someone to talk to about this problem I’ve been having, and then we can get together and we can solve it. Yeah.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  25:51

You know what, you know, it really helps me because I’m such a Yes, ma’am. is it’s, it’s called the gift test. So when someone asks you to do something, ask yourself what you will be giving up in order to do it. And if you’re comfortable with giving that up, you can say yes.

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  26:11

All right, well, I’ve been trying to do that.

 

Bailey Bouwman  26:14

Or you’ve been trying to say no more. Is that what also it is? Yeah, it’s 100%. It was like actually probably also say no, as, as a social media manager. COVID is like the biggest whirlwind to my day. Because all it takes is one change. And my provincial Health Authority likes to not warn anybody. They’re just kind of like, hey, here at two o’clock, this new, this new rule is coming in effect and an hour go. So that happened last week. And this week, it’s just been like a fury of changing messaging. And it’s just like, there’s got to be a point where I just have this, like, I have to stop say, I stopped saying that I can respond to things in 24 hours and like, some boundaries. Um, yeah, it’s not fun. So let’s wrap this up with where can people find you? Like, if they want to learn more about your passions, your projects, if they’re in Buffalo, if they want to connect with you? You’re on the internet. Where is that? Okay, so

 

Timea, Buffalo Baby Bums  27:17

I’m pretty active on Instagram. So it’s just Buffalo Baby Bums, just to make it easy for everyone. Everything is Buffalo Baby Bums

 

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