Today’s guest post comes from Ashlee- half of the terrific DiaperCo duo. Here she tells us a bit of what a day in the cloth diaper business is like. Thank you Ashlee! Be sure to check out the joint giveaway that DiaperCo is offer for the 30 Days of Dipes event- it’s a big one!
Ever wonder what it’s like to own an online cloth diaper company?
When you visit an online cloth diaper business, what do you see? Cute fluff for sale, maybe an “about us” section and FAQ, and a place to enter your credit cart information when purchasing. But just who are these people packing up your wet bags and pocket diapers and answering your emailed questions? In our case – that would be me (Ashlee), my husband Alex, and our little family-owned operation (DiaperCo.com) that we operate out of our house. We also have two young daughters (4 and 20 months) along for the ride. Running our own small business requires patience, a sense of humor, and focus. But we love what we do and wouldn’t have it any other way! Here is a day in the life of DiaperCo:
“Mommy! Daddy! Up!” This is how our day starts – my sweet toddler, Maria, is my backup alarm clock (I tend to hit that snooze button way too many times). She is the first of our family of four to wake up and she always demands that I get up as well. I roll over to check the time – 6:45am. Bleary eyed, I shuffle into the kitchen to start some coffee. While it is brewing, I sit down at my laptop and pull up DiaperCo’s email. I have a few questions from customers. As I start typing my responses, Maria tugs on my pajama pants. “Momma….MILK!” she insists. She is still nursing and I don’t foresee her self weaning anytime soon. It’s amazing how well you learn to multitask when you have little ones. I respond to emails, order inventory, sometimes even talk to customers on the phone while nursing. It helps Maria to feel secure and it helps me to get things done without having to constantly check on her.
Alex and our other daughter, Eleanor, get up next. Eleanor asks if she can watch “just one episode of Donald Duck…pleeeeease???” We decided to ditch our TV a few years ago to save our sanity and $$, but we have YouTube for occasional cartoon watching. I sometimes have to share my laptop screen: my business stuff takes up one side, and a cartoon plays in a web browser window on the other side. I sit squished between two bouncy, giggly little girls that squeal with delight at Donald’s comedic misfortunes. Focusing on my own stuff requires major concentration skills! But still, I wouldn’t give it up for anything.
After I catch up on some minor admin stuff, all four of us eat breakfast (and Alex and I have 1-2 cups of our life’s blood: COFFEE), then Maria and I take Eleanor to preschool. Alex runs his own marketing/web design/business branding company in addition to DiaperCo (www.getcultstatus.com), so he stays behind to get other things done. I arrive back home and spend some one-on-one time with Maria. We read books and she helps me with a few simple chores. The girl LOVES helping me put away laundry. I hear our printer whirring in the background. DiaperCo received an order! I grab the paper invoice and pull the correct items out of our inventory. We have a “wall of fluff” as I like to call it. All the inventory is tucked neatly away in plastic storage bins, arranged by size or color and stacked up against a wall in our dining room. Is it weird to find extreme joy in seeing diapers arranged in a rainbow?
Maria watches as I put items for a customer into a box or mailing bag. Sometimes she tries to “help” by adding an exclusive free gift – like her toy farm animals, crayons, or a single puzzle piece. I appreciate her generosity, but I triple check everything just to be sure it is correct and there aren’t any odd surprises sealed into someone’s order. Sometimes I make a game out of it. We count how many inserts are being packed or name all the different colors of diapers. It takes extra time, but helps her to feel included. When everything is ready for the post office, we take a nursing and cuddle break.
Any packaged orders get mailed, Eleanor comes home from preschool, and I prepare lunch for everyone while the girls play (or draw on the wall without me knowing, or occasionally terrorize our cat). Suddenly, the phone rings. I grab it. I used to feel shy about talking with customers, but now I love it! It feels great to help out other moms and dads with their cloth diapering journey. There are so many different types of families, so many reasons for choosing cloth, so many different stories. It keeps every day interesting and continues to keep us passionate about what we do.
After lunch is nap time for the girls and productive time for Alex and me.We catch up on our social media interactions and discuss future business plans and decisions. Recently, it’s been a lot of discussion about co-hosting this year’s Great Cloth Diaper Change with Life With Levi and The Slacker Mom ;).
The rest of the day is filled with phone calls, emails, setting up and cleaning up art projects for the girls, packing orders (Eleanor is my special big girl helper – she loves taking the shipping labels off the printer and sticking them on the packages) and trying to sneak in as many loads of dishes or laundry as I can in one afternoon. As dinner time rolls around, I’m ready to relax with my family, get in some decent facebook and blog-reading time, and prepare for another day. I look forward to what tomorrow will bring.
Diaperco is a family-owned retailer of cloth diapers & accessories, earth-friendly soaps & detergents, cloth feminine hygiene products, and natural parenting products. Diaperco is run by Ashlee (@ashleesobieski) and Alex Sobieski (@alexsobieski), natural parents and cloth/breast-feeding advocates. www.diaperco.com