Diaperkind needs your help! We’ve applied for the Mission Small Business grant (of 150k!!) and in order for our application to even be considered, we need to drum up 250 votes. But before you vote for us, we want you to know what you’re voting for! (We’re all about full disclosure over here ; ) Below are our answers to the grant application questions. If you read it and like what you read, then you can click here and give us your support.
Tell us about your business and what makes it unique. Please provide a general description of your product, customers, competitive landscape, and overall performance.
Our business is pretty rare and pretty incredible. We’re a Cloth Diaper Resource; we provide cloth diapering products, services and education within New York City. We are the ONLY cloth diaper service based in NYC. We currently service over 300 customers weekly and, over our 5 years, we’ve diapered 1000s of babies. We have 5 star ratings on ALL of the ratings boards: google, yahoo, yelp, etc. Our diapers are organic, our detergents are plant-derived and have been DFE certified by the EPA, and our customer service is bar none. Our customers are from every walk of life. They understand the negative impact that disposable diapers have on the planet* and on their baby. And they’ve chosen to take the path less traveled: using cloth diapers! And loving it and never looking back.
*One baby will have over 6,000 diaper changes. When trashed, those 6,000 diapers do NOT bio-degrade. EVER! That’s a LOT of trash we’re leaving behind for…you guessed it, the very kids we’re diapering.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur? Describe both your greatest achievements and biggest challenges.
Necessity is the mother of invention: I (Sarah) gave birth to twins. Cloth diapers were important to me, but there wasn’t a (reliable/respected) cloth diaper service in NYC, so I home laundered. And, seeing how easy it was (it’s true: both parents working, twins, home laundering. and yet… totally do-able. and not crazy!) on top of seeing all of the postings on the parent message boards saying: we’d like to cloth diaper, but without a washer and dryer, how? And so, after connecting those dots, Diaperkind was born.
Greatest Achievements: launching a company that really does play a part in saving the planet.
Biggest challenges: we grew SO FAST! I know that sounds a bit like “puppies and flowers”, but it’s true. We went from 0 families to 100 families in only SIX MONTHS! After that, we put the brakes on a little bit. So that we could focus on putting the systems and people in place needed to run a successful and incredibly logistically intense business.
How is your business involved with the community you serve? Examples include: giving back to the community, sourcing locally, and/or contributing to economic development via hiring.
Community to us, of course, is everything. On our About Us page, the very first paragraph states that “the three words that resonate at Diaperkind are Community, Environment and Respect” and we take this statement to heart with everything we do and touch. Saving the planet is why we’re here! And building community is inherent to that. In addition to hosting Cloth Diapering workshops, we also host Support Groups, Open Houses, Meet-ups, And many fun and informative classes for new parents like Baby Proofing, CPR, Post-natal Pilates, etc. We’ve established a donation stream to The Rebecca Foundation (who provides cloth diapers to low income families). We source as many of our items as possible from local, organic sources. And we currently employ 14 people (!) of every race, background and gender. And we’ve been accepted into Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program as it is our intent to GROW. And, in so doing, employ more people, have a positive impact on more families and save even more planet.
What would a $150,000 grant mean to your business and how will you utilize the funds? Please be as specific as possible.
As soon as we start working on getting the word out again, we will grow. And growth requires investing in diaper stock, people and equipment. In addition to growing with our existing market, we’d also like to become more feasible to lower income markets. All that said, the $150,000 would be used for: $60,000 in diaper stock (enough for 150 new families), $40,000 in equipment (enough for 150 new families), $20,000 in infrastructure and installation, $10,000 in tools and fixtures, and $20,000 for the first 6 months of a new mentor/customer service person’s salary. (this is the only person that we’d have to hire on the front end. All other employees: laundry staff + delivery drivers, can be hired as growth demands) THEN, because the grant would have provided all of the equipment and stock, it would enable us to provide an inexpensive (cost of labor only) service option to families in need. Which would be AMAZING!
What are your short-term (1-2 years) and long-term growth plans for the business? How will this grant contribute to your plan?
The current perception of Cloth Diapers is that they’re icky, inconvenient and only for crunchy people who have lots of time on their hands. So we are launching a Cloth Diaper Image Campaign to Change the Perception of Cloth Diapers. They’re just diapers! And it’s just laundry! If you’re going to diaper your baby and if you’ve ever pressed the start button on a washer, then choose cloth! They’re better for your baby, for your pocket book and for your planet. Done. So… fast forward to when our Starbucks Effect takes hold. We will grow. A LOT. This year, we expect only a slight uptick of around 15%. BUT, from 2 to 5 years, we expect growth of 50%+ per year. And the grant will make this possible! By acquiring the stock and equipment for our first new 150 families via the grant, we’re able to reach a second, lower-income market. So the grant means wins all around: Wins for us, wins for more potential customers and wins for the planet.