Article by Eve Bell,
Let me start by saying I’m no eco-warrior. But call me cloth nappy obsessed and I’d have to agree.
I first delved into the world of cloth nappies three years ago when my son Seth was 7 months old and we’d just discovered I was expecting our second child. I knew it wouldn’t be possible return to my high-pressure buying job part-time and I desperately didn’t want to work all hours and leave my two babies in childcare, so I was hunting for savings to the family budget.
Cloth nappies seemed like an obvious answer, but I was shocked at how expensive they were if you wanted to buy a whole set at once like most people need to at the start.
The other thing that struck me was that you could get really good looking nappies but they were even more expensive! I’m no slave to fashion, but like all mums I like my kids to look good and I didn’t see why working a fab pattern on a nappy should add such a premium to the price.
So I decided I would take on the big names and set up my own cloth nappy company. Armed with my buying experience, a drive to create a fantastic product and a new-found passion for cloth I set about creating my brand. I was determined to get the quality right so tried a few different suppliers before I settled on one I was happy with. I started small by selling a few on ebay, but all of a sudden a lot of very cheap – in every sense of the word – nappies started appearing and the term “ebay cheapies” was coined on cloth forums.
Us mums have always been a force to be reckoned with, but cloth mums are an even tighter-knit community and it doesn’t take much for word to spread – good or bad – I just couldn’t take the risk. I’d already been working with a designer to create a brand for my business so we speeded things up to get my own website up and running as soon as possible.
So in November 2009, Baba+Boo was born. You might think the name’s a bit unusual, but it’s in homage to my children. My eldest, Seth, is my Baba and Louisa is my Boo. And since naming the business in their honour I’ve used them as my inspiration. Both of them wore my cloth nappies and as they grew I developed the range to include washable potty pants – the logical next step.
I also stock a few carefully-selected other items such as bibs and soft leather shoes and the children have a say in these too. Seth demanded to know why there weren’t any dinosaur shoes in the range, so I designed some as soon as I could. And my favourite shoes – the purple ones with a beautiful crown on – are named Princess Boo after Louisa.
I’ve loved designing the range myself and bringing my vision to market. It’s taken three long years of working every nap time and evening, but I’m finally turning a corner. Seth starts school full time in September (sniff!) and Louisa goes to pre-school every afternoon, so I’ll finally have some dedicated time on which to work on the business.
And being a mum who juggles my work with my children I’ve made a positive effort to work with others who do the same. A friend and former colleague helps me with customer service and packing, I source my bibs and washable wipes from a work-at-home mum and both my social media and marketing support is provided by two other businesses run by mums working around their children.
And the latest exciting project for Baba+Boo is the launch of our party plan model which we call Clothee Break. For a long time our customers have asked how they can get more involved with the company and this seemed like a logical thing to do. After all, who better to sell our products than the people who love and use them? We make sure that they hold their Clothee Breaks in child-friendly places, so basically you can go along, grab a coffee while the kids play and see our products.
We’re taking it slowly and don’t have plans for world domination, but we’re hoping that using the party plan concept – where agents purchase a pack of products at a discount and then take a commission on any sales – means more people will see and hear about Baba+Boo, and our dedicated customers can make some money for themselves too.
We are all on a mission to prove it is possible to juggle a business and our family and I’d like to think that I’ve gone a long way to proving that.
Eve Bell runs www.babaandboo.com an online boutique selling beautiful items for well turned-out individuals. She was recently named runner up Entrepreneur of the Year in the Salford Business Awards. Follow her on Twitter @BabaandBoo
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