#50: Don’t give up

modern cloth nappy pattern family
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Today, I introduce you to Suzi, mother of four boys, photographer and designer behind the cloth nappy pattern business, My Little Sunshine. Suzi’s journey with reusables began 10 years ago when her first son was a baby. She quickly gave up, however, because she had no idea how to correctly or care for them. Fast forward to her fourth son, add a gift from her bestie, and Suzi is now an active member of the cloth community, where she represents many brands and even sells her own nappy pattern. Suzi radiates love for her boys, finds great joy in the simple things in life, and dreams of nothing more than eliminating hatred from the world. Join us to share in Suzi’s tips for getting started with cloth and to find out more about her passion for including mothers in the family photo album. You’re sure to empathise with what she has to say about her children remembering about her, too.

Welcome, Suzi @suzi.george

Tell us a little about yourself, your family, where you live, and what you love about where you live?

There’s 6 of us! Me, Rick, and the 4 boys aged from 11-1. I was born in New Zealand but am an Aussie citizen. We live in the beautiful lakeside suburb of Valentine in Newcastle, NSW. I have two degrees, and used to be a high school/ special education teacher. I have always felt a calling to “help” people in some way and it truly brings me joy. 

How will you and your family be spending Christmas?

We are spending Christmas in our very first family home we purchased earlier in the year (in the height of COVID!). We are inviting our families, and we’ll probably open our back gates, put the sprinkler on and let the kids have an amazing day in the oval just behind our house! We’ll also share drinks and snacks with our neighbours throughout the day and spend all that wonderful time as a family.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?

In 2021, I’d love to keep following my passions and focusing on doing the things which make me happy. Creating my little pattern making business (read on for more details) has bought me so much more joy than I ever imagined it would, and I’d love to keep sharing my love of cloth and encouraging mamas to have a go at making their own nappies.

Before we dive into your cloth journey, can you tell us one mantra you like to live by?

I have one little tattoo which says “follow your heart” and I find it very important to trust my gut instinct and what my heart is telling me. I know that if I follow my heart, I will always make the best decisions.

What would people be most surprised to know about you?

I guess most people would be surprised if I told them I lived with a mental health condition which can at times be pretty all-encompassing. I usually seem so happy, because I’m great at pretending everything is ok. Don’t forget to check on the people around you, even if it looks like they’re going well.

If you could fix one thing in the world what would it be?

Oh my goodness. I would eliminate hatred. It is so very unnecessary and causes so many of the problems in the world. 

Can you describe your journey from the first cloth nappy you ever used to today an active member of the WAHM community, a brand rep for a number of WAHMs and nappy pattern creator? Is there anything I have missed?

Wow! It was way back when my 11 year old was a baby. I ordered some “Chinese cheapies” from eBay and had no idea how to fit them correctly or care for them. I gave up due to the lack of support. I desperately wanted to commit to cloth when my fourth boy came along. I still had two in nappies, so I started them both in cloth, after my beautiful bestie sent me a package of some of her fave brands including Designer Bums. The DB fit like a glove so down the rabbit hole I fell! I still have a small but much-loved stash of around 15 DBs.

What is it about cloth nappies that has you obsessed?

The prints! Oh my! They are so pretty and like most others I want them all.

What is your favourite thing about being a member of the WAHM community?

There is so much generosity and kindness among the community. Every day, I see makers working together, building each other up, and supporting one another’s businesses. That side of the community makes me so proud to be a member. 

Can you share a little about your role as a brand rep? What inspired you to become a brand rep? What do you love most about being a brand rep?

I kind of fell into repping, by posting in all the buy, swap & sell groups trying to get my hands-on Poppy + Fig nappies (which are still a firm fave here!). Hoi Yee reached out and asked me to rep and it was a huge yes. I also rep for Ruby Moon Designs and Theodore and George. I simply adore the ladies behind the brands, who have all become friends. 

Tell us about your hopes and dreams for My Little Sunshine. For those who dont know, what is My Little Sunshine? From where did your inspiration for the name come? Where would you like to see for My Little Sunshine in the future?

Ahh my little passion project. My Little Sunshine MCN is the name I’ve given to my cloth nappy sewing pattern business. My fourth babe Leo was very much longed for and wanted. I call him my little sunshine boy (even though he’s not always a ray of sunshine, haha). I decided to digitise and start selling my pattern when I realised there wasn’t a OSFM single row (of hip snaps) nappy pattern that didn’t require significant modifications in order to fit most babies well. I originally designed it for Leo, but so many people asked me to share the pattern that I decided to get it out there. I wanted the pattern to be accessible to absolutely everyone because I knew how many of my friends hoarded fabrics in the hopes of winning custom WAHM spots, but didn’t feel confident to make their own. So, I also created a step-by-step picture guide as well, and it warms my heart seeing absolute sewing newbies make incredible nappies for their babes! I have just released my newborn sized pattern, and by the time this interview is published I’ll have released (or be just about to release) my large OSFM pattern! My goal has always been to make nappy making accessible to anyone who is interested and I love that my group is such a positive, judgement-free space! You can find my pattern at www.mylittlesunshinemcn.com.au and search Facebook groups for My Little Sunshine MCN.

Tell us about your pattern what makes it shine?

It’s a really great fit on babes of all shapes and sizes, and comfortably fits kiddos from approximately 4-17kg! It’s a fuss-free fit, single row design to make it quick and easy to pop on a wriggly kid. And the pattern doesn’t require modifications for most people. After lots of requests I’ve added a mini version of my popular OSFM – a teeny tiny newborn pattern which fits babies from 2.5-7.5kg. And my large pattern is for all those bootylicious babes and bigger toddlers who need more coverage – it’s bigger than most other large OSFM patterns I’ve seen and will easily fit kiddos until 24 or more kg, depending on body shape of course.

You have received a lot of positive feedback on your pattern on social media how does it make you feel?

It honestly makes me feel so humbled. That so many people have appreciated the pattern is just such a surreal yet incredible feeling. 

What was your greatest challenge in developing your nappy pattern and how did you overcome it?

The development of the pattern itself had small challenges, but by far the biggest challenge was the criticism I received from a small amount of makers who felt my pattern would have a negative impact on their businesses. I have always believed that there is room enough for all of us, and it made me sad that people thought I had negative intentions which just isn’t me. Throughout those difficult early days I tried my hardest to remain positive and professional, while also being honest with the members of my group about what was going on. I was very relieved to receive legal advice which gave me the green light to keep going and I’m so glad I made that choice. 

Nappies arent your only love in life; can you tell us about your passion for photography?

I have always loved that photography helped me to slow down, and really focus on the positive. I love that I have been able to connect with others who also find joy in photography, and I’ve made friends all over the world. I have had a little photography business called “Moments by Suzi” for a few years now. It’s incredible to watch my clients’ families grow, and grow with them as a photographer! You can find me on insta at www.instagram.com/suzi.george and I have a Facebook business page for Moments by Suzi too but I am terrible at updating it regularly!

You are also passionate about mamas getting out from behind the camera, and getting in front of it – can you tell us why this is important to you?

As mamas we are often the ones taking the photos, and so rarely in them. Any photos of us and the kids are often selfies or phone pics taken by others. It’s crucial to ensure we are included in the family photo album too, and so photographing mamas is very special to me. All mamas deserve to feel beautiful and that’s what I aim to achieve with my “Mama + Me” sessions. 

What does being a mama mean to you?

It’s everything. My children are my world, and although motherhood can be incredibly challenging, I wouldn’t be who I am without my kiddos. I always knew I would be a mama, and I feel blessed every day to have four beautiful boys.

What is one thing you would like your children to remember about you?

I hope they remember how much I loved them. I can be tired and cranky and yell too much sometimes but if they remember the love and the hugs, nothing would make me happier.

What is the most important lesson you want your children to learn?

That kindness is everything, and so is being yourself. I hope I’m able to give them the opportunity to be their own people. I am not huge on material possessions, to me the values of family and togetherness far outweigh how fancy our house is or how much stuff we have. I also want them to grow up just being kids. We spend a lot of time outdoors and I try to limit screen time to give them the opportunity to engage in imaginative play. I love seeing the little worlds they create and the characters they become.

Everyone is going to want to know your secret – how do you manage the demands of four children, a partner, a part-time job, and achieving so much within the cloth community? How do you fit everything into your days? How do you find your me time?

Umm, that’s a great question. Most days, I do feel like there’s not enough hours, but having a fourth child really taught me how to prioritise, and also how to let go of anything that isn’t immediately important. When I’m working on my projects that is my “me time” and it also qualifies as work so win-win? I do like to keep to a routine although that has loosened up a fair bit since Leo came along. We are morning people so it’s early to bed and up early; I like to get all the important stuff done during the day. Once the kids are in bed, that’s our adult time, which we usually spend hanging out on the couch watching TV together. 

What is life going to look like for you when you have no more babies in nappies?

I plan to make the kids awesome clothes so I can continue to justify buying all the fabric.

What, if anything, concerns you more about the future than before you had children?

The world has changed so rapidly in the past 20 years, that it’s hard to visualise what our kids’ future will look like. Technology has changed everything, and we won’t really know the impact of these changes until our babies grow up. I do feel like kids these days are very switched on, and aware of the big issues and the environmental impacts of our modern lifestyle. 

What do you believe is the best thing families can be doing to protect the future of the planet?

I think we all make our own small changes in any way we can. If each of us make one small change, those changes add up to a big change! Whether it’s recycling religiously, reducing plastic waste, choosing a vegan lifestyle, buying ethically made clothing or using cloth nappies. All of those things have a positive impact on the environment, but you don’t need to do everything to help create positive change. 

Before we let you go, we need your best cloth advice if you could share only one cloth piece of advice with those new to cloth, what would it be?

Don’t give up! There is support out there. Although the use and care of modern cloth nappies may seem overwhelming to begin with, once you’re in a routine it is very simple. 

What do you consider to be the key to success with cloth?

100%, having support from others in the community. Facebook groups are a wonderful place to find judgement-free support and advice. 

What is the one common myth about cloth nappies youd like to debunk?

That they’re too difficult. Once you understand how to fit them correctly and how to care for them, you’ll never have a leak or a stained nappy again! 

What do you now know about cloth nappies that you wish you knew when you first started?

That they are not all made equally. There are SO many options and sometimes you need to try different styles to find what suits your babe best. This can be overwhelming at first and turned me off cloth nappies for years.

If people want to get started with cloth today, how do they do it?

Join a cloth nappy group on Facebook, even if just to read other people’s experiences. Many cloth mamas are incredibly knowledgeable and so happy to help out where they can. You’ll find lots of honest feedback on brands and styles, cleaning tips, fit hacks, and friendship! Oh, and you’ll probably spend more money than you planned, but you’ll have lots of fun along the way. 

Whats one thing I havent thought to ask that I should have?

Do we have any pets? And the answer is, yes, we do. A sweet and cheeky 6-year-old bunny boy named Valentino

Are there any final words of advice you would like to share?

The cloth community is an incredible place. Never before have I witnessed so many incredible acts of generosity and kindness. If cloth nappies aren’t for you, you can always consider using mama cloth (cloth menstrual pads and breast pads) which I used for a decade before finally switching to cloth nappies. They saved me so much money and waste, and are so practical and convenient!

If anyone ever has any questions about cloth nappies or cloth products in general, just reach out! My inbox is always open.

In brief

Number of bums in cloth. Only 1 now. 

Time in cloth. 18 months.

Number of nappies. The number has fluctuated a lot throughout our journey, but around 45 is a comfortable number for me personally. Not so many that they just sit there looking pretty; but enough I don’t have to fold and put them away as soon as they’re washed because as you know, time is precious!

Full or part time. Mostly full time? We have been using disposables overnight for a little while now because I have really struggled to find a cloth solution that works for us overnight, now that Leo is older and wets so much more. It’s ok to use cloth part-time, everything helps!

Nappy style. We have a varied stash, with lots of different styles and brands! My favourites are those with a single row of waist snaps, preferably with a pocket for ease of cleaning.

Stuff or snap. Stuff!

Pre-stuff or lay as you go. Pre-stuff fo sho. 

Line or tumble dry. Line!

Favourite cloth related product. Double handle wet bags are SO handy for everything!

Describe your journey with cloth in one word. Fun!

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