Today’s interview with Kylie is about taking a passion for cloth nappies and turning it into a business that encourages other families to get into cloth. We discuss what it looks like to kick start a new venture as a first-time mum with a 4-month-old baby, the value in her background as a radiographer and why she believes cloth nappies are the product that brings communities together. For those who have entertained similar dreams, Kylie shares some sensible advice about small business not being a quick or easy route to retirement, but she also shares the joy she finds in wrapping up and sending out orders.
Welcome, Kylie @ecopeach
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your business?
Hi! I’m Kylie, mum to Calvin who will be 1 in a few days. We live in Brisbane having relocated back from Sydney just before Calvin was born. I started EcoPeach while I was on maternity leave in the hope I wouldn’t have to return to work. It turns out starting a business isn’t a quick or easy endeavour and so I am now also back at work 3 days a week as a radiographer. We live with our cat Bailey and a spare room which is a nappy storeroom.
How would your family and friends describe you?
Ok, so I usually hate this question so I actually asked my friends! According to them I’m fiercely loyal, driven, compassionate, open-minded, always learning and a rockstar mum. (I have pretty great friends who know me pretty well!)
What are you passionate about in life?
I’m actually a pretty passionate person in general but I have a real passion for learning and trying new things. I spend a lot of time going down internet rabbit holes and reading about all sorts of crazy ideas and concepts.
What was your dream job as a child?
I know for a long while I wanted to be a doctor but I have also always really liked the idea of being an entrepreneur so this business is somewhat of a dream come true for me.
When did you first become interested in starting your own business? Tell us a little about the beginnings of Ecopeach.
EcoPeach was born firstly because during my maternity leave, I decided that rather than return to work, I wanted to create a job such that I could spend more time at home with my son. I thought an e-commerce store would be ideal. I’ve since realised that starting a business is so much more than an idea, it takes a great deal of time and you really have to believe in what you are doing. I’m now back at work part time and letting the business grow organically. Maybe one day I’ll be able to retire, but for now it’s about sharing cloth with as many people as I can. For me it’s a labour of love and an expression of passion. I refuse to compromise on the aspects of my product that I feel are important and so I’m making sure I stay true to creating a quality product and a brand that actually helps mums and brings them together.
How did you manage a new business with a 4 month old? Give us all your secrets!
Haha, there’s no secrets. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have a wonderfully easy baby and an incredibly supportive husband. I am terrible at ‘Netflix and chill’ so my ‘down-time’ I spend researching cloth nappies, negotiating with my suppliers and thinking about ways we can be a better business and make cloth nappies easier. I guess I’ve always been the nerdy type, and so I spend my evenings packing orders and researching – I know it kills my husband that “I’m always on my phone.” I also had a business coach in the beginning who helped me focus my attention on the steps that mattered so I could get going.
What was your background before beginning Ecopeach and how has it contributed to your success?
I am a radiographer by trade and was previously the Chief Radiographer in Sydney. I have always worked in a service industry and I guess that’s certainly helped as a major value of the EcoPeach brand is about helping families get into cloth. Other than that, my biggest contributing factor is the fact that I am a mum who uses cloth nappies, I have friends who use cloth nappies and I’m living my product, but also constantly asking what others like, what works, what doesn’t work.
Who do you turn to when you need support or to share your ideas?
My husband is my biggest support. He was the one who said to me right at the beginning “you’ll never have a better time in your life to try something totally new – go for it. Even if it doesn’t work you can say proudly that you tried.” I can’t thank him enough for that vote of confidence. I also have a brother who is very successful in his business and parents who are great sounding boards. My closest friends are straight talkers and will always tell me straight if I need some ‘constructive’ feedback. It’s important to me to have those people I can trust. Now, I also have a beautiful team of brand reps all doing cloth their own ways and giving me feedback on my ideas.
You have described cloth nappies as ‘the product that brings together communities’ – can you tell us more about why you believe that?
I absolutely believe that cloth brings communities together – I can’t think of another product that has as many Facebook and Instagram groups and get parents talking. I often see posts that are loosely about nappies – for example “I’m having a rough time so we’re going to take a break from cloth” … and the responses are overwhelmingly supportive; there’s always offers to help, as well as simple “that’s ok, you got this mumma” comments. That sort of thing really warms my heart.
I love that it’s not about us and them between brands either. Brand owners, brand reps, nappy addicts and first-time users all congregate together offering tips, thoughts and even meeting up in mum groups. For example, I have 9 brand reps who’ve never met and are now part of my rep group, we chat about all sorts of things and love seeing what each other is up to. It’s our own little mini community within the community. Our EcoPeach VIP Facebook has over 100 members too. That’s 100 people who are connected purely over an interest in cloth nappies.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Great question! Well, I start most days about 5am when my little fella wakes up. We have cuddles and milk and morning story time while we wait for dad to wake up. We put the prewash nappies in the machine and at about 6.30 we all head to the kitchen for family tea and toast. Three days a week I then head off to work for 8 hours (one day Calvin is with dad, one day at daycare and one day with my parents). On my days off, the day is all about play and fun with Calvin. I use his nap times to catch up on emails, Insta posts or any other business things. Calvin is very good at helping with laundry – he loves lying outside as I hang out the washing! Our evening routine is always pretty much the same: 5.30pm dinner followed by bath time, a big bottle and then Calvin is asleep between 6.30/7pm. From there I spend time chilling with my husband, wrapping orders or folding nappies in front of the TV. It’s a pretty good routine most days.
How do you find the balance with your roles as mother and business owner?
Routine and flexibility are the biggest tools I use for balance. I know that sounds contradictory, but I think routine is very important within the family so we all know what we’re up to, but within that you have to be flexible and deal with the fact that not every day goes to routine. The small things like putting a nappy wash on are as important to me as having a shower in the morning – they just have to happen. Sleep times and meal times? Well, some days that routine just gets thrown out the window and we go with the flow.
What has become your favourite part about being a business owner?
I love wrapping up the orders. Each order is wrapped by me in recycled brown paper and repurposed cardboard. It’s like getting ready for Christmas all the time – I love wrapping them and know they will be loved as they are unwrapped.
What were you looking to achieve in designing your own brand of cloth nappy?
When picking the elements of my nappies, the biggest considerations for me were the getting the features that I wanted to see that I couldn’t find elsewhere. I wanted to create a nappy so easy to use and with all the tools for success that more beginners felt they could give it a go. For me, every new bum in cloth is a success, I want to make that as easy as possible.
Can you describe the benefits of the style of cloth nappy you design?
Although we have a few snap close designs, our most popular are the Velcro closures. The benefit of this design is that it’s as close to a disposable as you can get without being an all in one. I like the flexibility that it can be a pocket or a snap-in Ai2 so it dries quicker than an AiO, but that the basic principles are simple for new users. The double gussets and belly flap were must haves also so that there are as few places as possible for business to leak out. Every feature I put in the nappies was about making them easier and or more resilient. I want parents to be curious to try and then to succeed when they do.
Can you explain your decision to manufacture your nappies overseas, and how you ensure this process is as sustainable and ethical as possible?
Well, first of all I can’t sew to save myself so making my own was never an option. I am also aware that it is almost impossible to manufacture in Australia due to requirements around the materials used. Based on this China was pretty much the place to go, it’s where nearly all Australian nappies come from that aren’t sewn in Australia by mums. I decided that I didn’t have the skills to negotiate with the Chinese so I employed a sourcing company. They are an independent middle man who communicates with my manufacturer in their own language. They’ve provided me with safety reports, equipment specifications and employment condition assurances so I feel I can trust that I’m not just being given empty lip service.
What difference do you hope to make with Ecopeach?
I want to turn back the tide on disposables. I want to be part of the shift that brings cloth back to mainstream.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to start their own business?
Firstly, don’t quit your day job! Haha, also there’s some brilliant women in the business community who will share their knowledge. I’ve found that rather than turning to one source I follow lots. I have a branding woman who I’ve done an online conference with, I’ve followed Insta experts, I listen to a Shopify podcast. Turn to the experts in the fields you are not an expert in and learn everything they have to offer.
What can we expect to see in the future for Ecopeach?
Our second release is getting set for manufacture at the moment. We’ll have wetbags and super cute nappy pods in the next release. From there we hope to introduce mama cloth in the future. Our Facebook and Insta will continue to be a resource hub where knowledge and tips are shared.
Can you tell us a little about your own cloth nappy journey?
Probably like many new mums these days I didn’t even know cloth was a thing until my husband suggested it. I looked into cloth, loved the idea and had a good look around baby expos. We used prefolds and covers from birth and hubby installed the toilet squirter before bub arrived. I’m proud to say that since we left hospital we haven’t used a disposable.
Somewhere in the last generation, cloth nappies have gone from mainstream to ‘too hard’ – how do you think this happened and what do you think we can do to encourage less disposable nappy use?
I know! I find this absolutely amazing. For one, I think many women have gone back to work sooner and for more days/hours which has left households more time poor, however it’s a myth that cloth needs to take much time. Also, I don’t think new parents are exposed to cloth nappies in the way they are disposables. Disposables are advertised on TV all the time, even at my birthing classes we got taught how to ‘put on a nappy’ – it was a disposable! One mission I have with EcoPeach is to try and get in front of as many new mums as possible. Let them see how easy it is and how it’s not all terries and safety pins and poo.
How would you describe the key benefits of switching to cloth?
Cloth is the trifecta – the environmental, financial and natural benefits are huge. There’s few eco swaps in life that are not only better for the environment but also massively cheaper too.
For those feeling overwhelmed and unsure where to start with cloth nappies, what advice can you give?
I think in some ways big Facebook groups can make things overwhelming because you see so many questions and if you ask one you get so many answers. My advice is to find a friend who uses cloth, or get in touch with one brand. All brands have brand reps/experts who can help guide you through the process. Keep each step simple and don’t worry if you don’t feel you have your head around it all at the start. Buy a nappy, put it on, go from there.
What is your response to the biggest misconception you hear about cloth nappies?
To me the biggest misconception is that it’s hard and time consuming. Cloth nappies take the same amount of time at change time, the prewash doesn’t require supervision, the main wash takes less than 10 mins to hang out (and you could dryer the inserts), if you decide to use a snap and go system like EcoPeach, you don’t have to spend time stuffing nappies at night. You’d literally hang out 8-10 extra washing items a day.
What advice can you share around choosing the right insert for your cloth nappy needs?
When looking to assemble inserts for a nappy you need to consider your position and your purpose for each insert. Do you want a slow absorption over a long period of time? Do you want something that soaks up quickly as bub floods nappies? Once you answer that you know what sort of fabric you need. I’m a huge fan of high-quality fabric. Like a cotton t-shirt you can have 100% cotton that’s see-through or 100% cotton that’s lush. Lush soaks more for less layers, that’s also why EcoPeach inserts are all 400GSM bamboo.
What’s your best tip for keeping cloth simple?
Don’t forget they are just a nappy. Don’t overthink things too much. Just jump in and troubleshoot as you go.
What do you hope for the future of cloth nappies in Australia?
I’d like to see a time when cloth nappies become mainstream again. It’s certainly possible.
What do you think is the best thing we can all be doing to spread the love for cloth?
Talk about cloth nappies. If you hear someone is pregnant and you use cloth, talk to them about cloth nappies, show them how you cloth, ask them to get into cloth.
What do you see to be the greatest thing parents can do to protect the future of our planet?
Other than use cloth nappies? Haha, as parents we need to keep being mindful of our environmental impact and also be the example we want our kids to follow.
Number of bums in cloth. One – Calvin.
Time in cloth. 1 year.
Number of nappies. Approx 40.
Full or part time. Full time.
Nappy style. EcoPeach pocket.
Stuff or snap. Stuff – although I lay a trifold on top of a stuffed pocket for night boosting.
Pre-stuff or lay as you go. Pre-stuff – love my night therapy.
Line or tumble dry. – Both. Mostly line, but a tumble to finish if they’re not quite dry.
Favourite cloth related product My nappy pod prototype – I can’t wait for the rest.
Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Peachy.