I recently had the opportunity to interview Melissa of Lalabye Baby Diapers. I was happy to shed a little light on the mama-owner of this cloth diaper business and also wanted to get to know her brand a little better. How did she get started, when and why? Cloth diaper maker interviews often sound pretty similar and initially this interview was turning out just as I suspected.
- Diapers essentially created at the “kitchen table”✓
- Hard work put into designing their dream diaper✓
- Dedicated to quality and customer service✓
- Loves the cloth diaper industry✓
- Had a personal need and it led to creating their own diaper brand✓
I could have written the interview without even receiving her answers, that’s about how similar most interviews are, but then I decided I wanted to ask more, so I replied with some tougher questions. I wasn’t sure Melissa would want to answer them and for a moment I thought she might nix the interview idea all together. Melissa’s cloth diapers are Made in China and I wanted to know… How do you feel about being MIC? Are Lalabye Baby Diapers China Cheapies or Menu Diapers? If not, what do you feel makes them different? Convince us you truly do put a lot of work into your design, manufacturing and that you’re not just picking diapers out of a catalog and having your labels sewn on.
Read my interview with Melissa below and get to know LalabyeBaby Diapers a little better! We address some fun basics about Melissa and her cloth diaper experience, then we dig a little deeper into her Made in China line of cloth diapers.
Tell us about your personal cloth diaper experience, how you discovered cloth diapers, what your first diaper was and what your personal stash was like?
I first learned about cloth diapers in 2008, I had just returned from my honeymoon to find out I was being laid off. A month later I found out I was pregnant. What’s a pregnant lady to do with all her extra time? Well, I started researching ways to save money. It had always been a dream of mine to be able to stay home with my kids. I came across cloth diapers in a chat room and was immediately intrigued. My mother had used cloth diapers on my brother and I, but these looked nothing like what I remembered. Out came the pencil and pad and I started taking notes trying to figure out this cloth diaper lingo…AIO, AI2, Pocket, inserts vs liners. The list goes on and on. I believe my very first cloth diaper purchase was a Blueberry size small. With my daughter I had a collection of diapers, Bum Genius, Fuzzibunz, Prefolds, Thirsties, Blueberry, Good Mamas etc.
How and when did you decide you wanted to own your own brand of cloth diapers?
In 2011 a friend of mine asked me if I had ever thought about opening my own cloth diaper store. At this point I had converted so many of my friends to cloth diapers, but the thought of having my own retail business scared me. I was afraid it would take up too much of my time and my babies were still home with me. With my background in design I started giving this a little more thought and started coming up with a list of what my ultimate diaper wishes would be. If I was going to do this I wanted to come up with my own diaper since all the features I wanted in a diaper didn’t exist. My ultimate diaper wishes were jotted down, drawn up and then I started researching ways to produce it. In 2012, Lalabye Baby 1.0 came to fruition. My little girl was potty trained by now and my baby boy was now a toddler and had been my guinea pig for fit and absorption tests!
What important facts about yourself and your brand would you want to tell someone who’s leery of trying Lalabye or a skeptic because the diapers are manufactured in China? In what ways is your brand different than other MIC diapers and what sets you and your company apart from China Cheapies and Menu Diapers?
Lucky for me, this is an easy question for my company. There has been quite a bit of debate over the all too common “China Cheapie”. Even I know how appealing these diapers can seem, but when you’re seeking a high quality (and compliant), super absorbent, versatile diaper, the typical Made in China diapers don’t fit the bill. Lalabye Baby diapers may have “Made in China” on their tags, but our diapers are far from generic.
I started my cloth diapering journey long before making diapers ever crossed my mind. I was a second time mom, looking for the ultimate diaper, dreaming of all the perfect features rolled in to one. I had tried many brands and knew exactly what I wanted in a diaper, but that diaper didn’t exist. I sketched out my design and so began the design process of the diaper. I’ll admit that the whole process of designing a diaper, researching, contacting, and interviewing manufactures was very intimidating. I worked hard to find a factory that is certified and has fair labor practices. But that still wasn’t enough for me, I went a step further and had our diapers tested here in the US to make sure that the certifications offered by my factory were in fact legitimate. Lalabye Baby diapers passed the phthalates and lead tests required by CPSIA. Getting every last measurement and feature included in a diaper and communicating with the factory to produce my design was challenging, but the end result was worth it! I had help with my design process not only from friends and family, but from cloth diaper retailers, other cloth diapering moms, and a professional seamstress. Every feature of my diaper has been carefully thought about, debated upon, and implemented.
I know another common question is, why not make the diapers here in the US? Well, the reason is simple, cost. I have been able to design my diapers down to the millimeter of snap placement, assure product process and quality, but for the price point of my diapers I had to look to overseas production. I hope to bring the production to the United States in the next few years, but in the meantime, I am confident in saying that my diapers are of great consideration, great work, and great quality, which I am thrilled to share with the cloth diapering community. Not only do you get a durable, broad weight range, well fitting, safe, and absorbent diaper, my diapers come with something a China diaper never will, customer service! I aim to please, and I listen to my customers to continually upgrade my diaper design.
Lalabye Baby is a family run business. Every single order that goes out to you is packed and shipped by me, sometimes with my children’s help:). Everyone in my family has contributed to the success of our small business. My kids were my inspiration and motivation, my testers and little helpers. The name came from my daughter Leah, she used to call herself Lala. My husband, with his background in graphic design came up with our logo and website. Most importantly, I had a lot of support from my entire family and friends. Without any of them, Lalabye Baby wouldn’t have come to be.
I hope that sharing my journey of creating Lalabye Baby has shed some light on the quality and hard work behind building my business. I hope that the stigma of where an item is produced doesn’t mask the quality of our diapers and that every cloth diapering parent can be confident that their Lalabye Baby diapers are a product of hard work and dedication to the industry.
What has been the best part about being involved in this industry since having started Lalabye Baby?
I love how much the cloth diaper industry has grown. There are still a lot more people to reach but it’s exciting to see how far the industry has come in the last few years. I must say I have made some very special friendships through the cloth diaper community and love to support and contribute to the industry as a whole.
What goals do you have for Lalabye Baby in the near future and what are you most excited about?
We would love to expand our market. Getting the word out there that cloth diapers are not only better for baby and the environment but also for your wallet. I’ve been adding more and more retailers so word is definitely getting out there.
We will also continue to introduce new colors and prints this year so stay tuned for that.
Your best cloth diapering tip? If you had to give a new cloth diapering family a brief bit of advice, what sorts of advice or tips would you share with them?
Keep it simple. Cloth diapers shouldn’t be complicated. Buy a few, try them out, once you find something that works for you stick with that. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask any cloth diapering mama, we all love to talk CD’s!
Interested in trying Lalabye Baby Diapers? Melissa has created a discount JUST for Cloth Diaper Geek fans! Use code DIAPERGEEK and save 10% off at LalabyeBaby.com!
Thoughts? I’d love to know what you think of Melissa’s interview questions above. Please leave your questions for her and comments here on the blog. Thanks!