When I was pregnant with Natalie, we were getting ready to move to the US for Muigai to start graduate school and we were looking for ways to save money on the baby. We were living in Tanzania at the time, and many women used cloth diapers and hand washed them. I figured if women could use cloth diapers and hand wash them, how hard could it be to use cloth diapers with a washing machine?
I did some research online and was amazed at the variety of modern cloth diapers, which looked not only easy to use but also much cuter and cheaper than disposables. So we used cloth diapers with Natalie, and we loved them – we literally saved thousands of dollars by using cloth, not to mention saving thousands of diapers from ending up in the landfills.
When Natalie was about 18 months old, went to Kenya for 3 months for Muigai to do his practicum for grad school. I was introduced to a lady in my town who had a cloth diaper business, and she agreed to teach me how to make cloth diapers so that I could train some women in Kenya. My original plan was to train women how to make the diapers so that they could set up their own businesses.
Unfortunately, the materials that are needed to make quality diapers were not available in Kenya, so my original plan fell through.
When we moved to Uganda, I brought along some diaper fabrics. In January, I made a few diapers for a friend and through word of mouth, I started receiving some orders and requests for diapers.
Since January, I’ve trained two local tailors how to make cloth diapers and have been experimenting with different designs to find one that would be affordable for the local market, high quality, and relatively easy to make.
I’ve settled on an “all in two” design where
the diaper comes in two pieces – an outer
cover and an inner soaker that snaps onto
the cover. When the soaker gets wet or
dirty, another soaker is snapped onto the
cover, which can be used two or three times
until it needs to be washed. Since the cover
is more expensive to make, this design makes
the diapers more affordable. The diapers
and soakers are also adjustable, so the same
diaper will fit a newborn all the way until he/she is potty trained.
I’m so excited to see how this project is taking shape. Through word of mouth only, we have filled orders for 42 covers and 65 soakers since January! Since this is something that I am doing in my spare time, I’m planning to keep it small for now. My main focus is on training local tailors how to make the diapers in order to provide more work and income for them. My role will be to source for the necessary fabrics (some have to be sent from the US) and coordinate the orders.
Here are a few pictures of the diapers “in action” – thanks to Muigai for these great shots – it’s nice being married to a good photographer!!