It was back in December when I sat up in bed in the middle of one wet, dark and cold night, shook Lukas awake and said “I know what we can do!” I think it was precisely because I jolted him awake that my husband, groggy and mumbling, agreed to start selling cloth diapers. The element of surprise cannot be overrated.
The idea of the side gig was born out of necessity. Both writers, we had spent several years trying to weather out the precursor to the perfect storm that eventually brewed for our family – a suffering media industry, a mortgage crisis for which we nearly became poster children and the cost of bringing two precious babies into the world. Instead of eating beans every night and renting out a room to a stoned college border, I thought throwing together a little home diaper business could close the financial gap and make life a bit more comfortable. I envisioned myself hosting little gatherings once or twice a month on the weekends where I would show off fabulous cloth diapers, and moms emailing out of the blue to order stashes of 36 diapers at $700 a pop.
Little did I realize how much time, effort, frustration and emotional turmoil can be involved in “throwing” such a venture together. But the reality soon began to emerge. I wanted a little online store that was different than what was out there already – a site that was edgy and cool and easy to navigate. And of course I, with no HTML or e-commerce skills, wanted it built for $500. I started out wanting to sell just Fuzzi Bunz, the diapers we first started using on Punkernoodle One and fell in love with. I quickly got diaper lust and had to have all the other great stuff out there, too. So I spread my allegiance around, which was good because I had lots of other diaper brands to comfort me when my beloved Fuzzis informed me they were not accepting new retailers – one of dozens of tiny heartbreaks.
As winter melted into spring, boxes of diapers filled what was once our dining room and the design of our Website inched forward. Our usual bedtime moved from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., and my dreams were filled with hot-pink polyester and organic hemp confections. Challenges abounded, from a trademark dilemma with our name to the ever-growing need for MORE TIME.
While we waited for our national online presence to make itself known, we started making real sales to wonderful local mamas and papas, who were beyond thrilled to have a place in Seattle where they could touch and learn about cloth diapers. And something else happened: As the realistic pace of starting a home business set in, Lukas jumped ship to a new job that brought in more money and turned the diaper shop from a financial lifeline to a slightly more fun experiment, a step on the path to a potentially different lifestyle down the road.
So it’s been 8 months. We have a temporary Website that directs local folks to our home showroom, where on evenings and weekends we’ve sold cloth diapers to a quite few babies, some who’ve rolled around on our floor squealing and some who waited quietly in utero. We have a determined and dedicated store designer with her own small-business dreams who may, just maybe, get our shop open in a few weeks. We have a deeper appreciation for family businesses of all size and shape, but especially for those run by parents trying to create something good, and perhaps a little indescribable, for their children. Oh, and we’re finally carrying Fuzzi Bunz, which now sit stacked by the dozens in our dining room – I mean diaper shop – in all their fuzzi glory. Hopefully someone, somewhere, will buy them.